Colostrum: A new frontier in health
There is increasing concern about the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, especially if used long term. New approaches are needed that are safe, efficacious, and backed by science. This is resulting in an ever increasing interest in the utilization of bioactives found in nature, including those in colostrum.
Bovine colostrum, or the first milk produced by dairy cows, has been used for many hundreds of years as a traditional or complementary intervention for a range of health conditions. While many natural remedies have potential therapeutic benefits, colostrum is relatively unique in that over the last two decades, there has been a concerted effort to test its efficacy and safety through the same types of rigorous studies employed for pharmaceutical candidates. As a result, multiple randomized clinical trials have shown that colostrum has a benefit in multiple settings, backed up by preclinical studies that elucidate the molecular processes involved.
This research has led colostrum to be deemed a promising new frontier in health for several reasons:
A new frontier in health
Colostrum is the milk produced by mammals during the first few days after birth. It has been used for many hundreds of years as a traditional or complementary therapy for a wide variety of ailments. Partly due to the limitations and side effects of current therapies, there is a renewed interest in the utilization of natural-based products, of which colostrum is a prime example.
While many natural-based remedies may have therapeutic benefits, colostrum is relatively unique in that over the last two decades, there has been a concerted effort to test the properties of colostrum through the same types of rigorous studies typically employed for promising pharmaceutical candidates. As a result, multiple randomized clinical trials have shown that colostrum has a benefit in multiple settings, backed up by cell culture and animal studies that elucidate the molecular processes involved.
This research has lead colostrum to be called the new frontier in gut health for several reasons:
1. Colostrum is designed by nature to modulate our gut and its microbiome
Colostrum plays an important role in stabilizing the gut to function properly during the first few weeks after birth — a role separate from being a calorie provider. During this time, the gut is naturally leaky, and bioactive molecules in colostrum signal to the gut to develop a resilient lining that is effective as a barrier, as well as enhancing nutrient absorption function. In addition, it influences the bacterial strains that will live in our bowels for our lifetime, priming our gut immune system to develop an effective, but not excessive, immune sensing system.
2. The protective matrix helps bioactives effectively reach the gut through oral delivery
Many natural products have biological effects when added to cells in a laboratory setting and based on this, claims are made about use in humans. However, if taken by mouth, these products are exposed to all the digestive processes that all food is subjected to. This results in many of these products being completely digested and inactive when taken orally, simply becoming a source of nutrients. In contrast, colostrum is naturally packaged in a matrix of protective proteins that help prevent its degradation and allows its bioactives to retain activity as they travel through the gut.
3. Multiple factors exert a synergistic effect
Drugs and biologics usually consist of a single molecule that binds to specific receptors on the cells of the patient (or bacteria). Colostrum is different; several studies have now shown that through its combination of healing factors, immune modulators and anti-bacterial agents that bind to multiple sites, colostrum can deliver an enhanced synergistic effect. Life sciences companies are now beginning to follow this approach found in nature, and multi-drug combinations are often used in treating cancer and challenging infections.
4. A critical mass of data is illuminating its benefits
The fact that there are so many studies demonstrating the beneficial effects of colostrum is leading to more research studying the pathways by which it exerts its effects. This greater understanding offers the opportunity to further refine or enhance the activity of colostrum in clinically meaningful ways.
5. Colostrum collections and processing has been standardized
As we now appreciate the roles that immunoglobulins and growth factors play in the mechanisms by which colostrum exerts its effects, the production of colostrum has been standardized to ensure consistency between batches and preservation of bioactivity.
6. Colostrum is not species specific
While the relative composition of some colostrum components have variations between species, the majority of components are similar and can be used across species. For example, the most researched colostrum for human health is bovine colostrum, or the first milk from dairy cows.
In summary, colostrum has been shown to be biologically active in multiple preclinical and clinical studies, and the molecular processes underlying these effects have also been further determined. As a result, colostrum stands out as a promising source of bioactives that can be developed into nutritional interventions and biologics to address a range of health conditions.