Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ok, so what's colostrum, and why is it so cool?

What is colostrum exactly?

Colostrum is the first pre-milk produced by a mother when a baby is born. All mammals produce colostrum, including humans. The colostrum we’re going to be talking about in this blog, however, is bovine colostrum - the stuff derived from cows.

Ok. So what’s so great about that?

Colostrum is one of nature’s finest foods - in fact, it’s nature’s ‘first food’. It is rich in immunoglobulins - a flash word for antibodies - which are formed against various pathogens (‘bad bugs’ like viruses, bacteria, etc) by the mother and passed on in colostrum, and other immune factors to boost your immune system, plus growth factors to help you grow and repair. The whole point of colostrum is to prepare a baby’s immune system for all the little goodies and baddies it will encounter in its first few years and beyond.

Think it of like a computer download - the mother encounters all the bacteria and viruses, gets sick, fights them off, and retains a memory of what they are so next time they come along, it recognises them and defends itself before there’s a chance to get sick again. So when she’s born, the baby ‘downloads’ this information through the colostrum, so when the baby comes across these bad bugs it already has the information on what they are so it won’t get sick too.
All this is well and good, but it gets even better.

Colostrum has been shown to boost and stimulate production of adult stem cells.

Stem cells? Aren’t they those things they get from unborn babies?

Not quite! The controversial ones you’re thinking of are embryonic stem cells. The stem cells produced when you take colostrum are adult stem cells.

Alright, so what’s the difference? And what’s a stem cell?

Adult stem cells are produced in the bone marrow throughout your life. They’re like ‘blank canvas’ cells that can turn into any part of the body. So while normally a kidney cell will only become part of a kidney, and an eye cell will become part of an eye, a stem cell could become a kidney OR an eye - or pretty much any other cell in the body, for that matter. Your body uses these cells for repairing itself when something gets broken or damaged, and for growing bigger and stronger.

As you get older, your body produces less and less, and this leads to the ageing process and all the age-related illnesses associated with it.

Embryonic stem cells, on the other hand, are only produced in utero, when a baby is developing in its mother’s womb. These are stem cells too, so can turn into any cell, but after a child is born they are no longer produced. These are the controversial stem cells used in research and about which the ethical debates rage.

The information on this website is for guidance only, and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. If you have any symptoms that are concerning you, please seek a proper diagnosis, and if you are taking any medication please check with your GP before taking colostrum. I can not and do not promise any cures for anything.

PubMed: Colostrum 3x More Effective Than Flu Vaccine

So, thankfully we're out of the depths of winter and into the heat of the summer here in the Southern Hemisphere, but for our Northern cousins the season of flu is once more upon them. A lot of people - myself included - are for various reasons extremely wary of vaccinations in general, and in particular the flu vaccine. And with the impending rollout of the new H1N1 'swine' flu vaccine across the US, a lot of people are looking towards safer methods of prevention. As a student naturopath, I'm aware of the issues many people have with this particular form of prophylaxis, and that people are on the lookout for things that are less invasive and more natural to help them avoid the lurgie. Which is why, besides the standard hygiene principles of washing your hands, covering your coughs and sneezes, etc etc, I'd recommend taking colostrum."Colostrum over the flu jab?" I hear you ask. "But why?!"Well, because a recent Italian study published in PubMed found bovine colostrum supplements three times more effective in preventing the flu than the vaccine.

The efficacy of a 2-month treatment with oral colostrum in the prevention of flu
episodes compared with antiinfluenza vaccination was evaluated. Groups included
healthy subjects without prophylaxis and those receiving both vaccination and
colostrum. After 3 months of follow-up, the number of days with flu was 3 times
higher in the non-colostrum subjects. The colostrum group had 13 episodes versus
14 in the colostrum + vaccination group, 41 in the group without prophylaxis,
and 57 in nontreated subjects. Part 2 of the study had a similar protocol with
65 very high-risk cardiovascular subjects, all of whom had prophylaxis. The
incidence of complications and hospital admission was higher in the group that
received only a vaccination compared with the colostrum groups. Colostrum, both
in healthy subjects and high-risk cardiovascular patients, is at least 3 times
more effective than vaccination to prevent flu and is very cost-effective.

This is most likely because colostrum contains high levels of several antibodies. They effectively grab hold of the pathogens - in this case the flu virus - and surround them, meaning they aren't able to multiply and spread in your body. Instead, they're either destroyed by macrophages, and/or 'kindly escorted' from your body in your normal waste, and you're left healthy and happy.You can read the study here.


Hello everybody!!

This blog has been created as a side-project to my main blog, Colostrum For Me, and as a partner to my other secondary blog, Colostrum Loves Me.

Here you can find research, studies, and information related to 'nature's first food', colostrum, and the health benefits it can confer.

I hope you enjoy finding out more about this amazing substance.

- Erin