Bovine colostrums: a review of clinical uses

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Author: Gregory S. Kelly
Date: Nov. 2003
From: Alternative Medicine Review(Vol. 8, Issue 4)
Publisher: Thorne Research Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 8,264 words

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Bovine colostrums are the "early" milk produced by cows during the first several days post-parturition. This "early" milk has a nutrient profile and immunological composition that differs substantially from "mature" milk. Included in the nutrient profile are higher amounts of immunoglobulins, growth factors, cytokines, and nucleosides than are found in milk. Bovine colostrums are also rich in oligosaccharides, antimicrobials, and immune-regulating factors. Available evidence suggests a beneficial effect of supplementation of bovine colostrums in improving body composition, aspects of athletic performance, diarrhea in persons with immune-deficiency syndromes, NSAID-induced gastrointestinal disturbances, and aspects of the acute phase response that occurs secondary to surgery. Specific hyperimmune bovine colostrums, produced to have high neutralizing titer activity against Cryptosporidia, H. pylori, measles, rotavirus, and Shigella sp., appear to have clinical utility in conditions associated with these infectious organisms.

(Altern Med Rev 2003;8(4):378-394)


Bovine colostrums (BC) are the "early" milk produced by cows during the first several days post-parturition. This "early" milk has a nutrient profile and immunological composition substantially different from "mature" milk. In addition to macronutrients found in milk such as protein, carbohydrate, and fat, and micronutrients including vitamins and minerals, BC contain oligosaccharides, growth factors, antimicrobial compounds, and immune-regulating constituents either not present in milk or present in substantially lower concentrations. (1) The comprehensive nutritional, growth factor, and immune support is thought to provide passive immunity to protect the newborn calf from opportunistic infections while the immune system is developing, as well as to facilitate the growth and immune maturation of the digestive tract and possibly other tissues. (1)

The use of BC as a dietary supplement has increased substantially over the past decade. Unlike some dietary supplements whose composition is precisely defined chemically, and hence could be expected to be similar in composition irrespective of the brand, BC do not have a typical composition profile. Multiple factors influence the composition of BC, including the breed and health status of the cow. feeding practices, and time collected post-parturition. For example, a product made from BC collected during the first 24 hours post-parturition would be expected to have a higher concentration of immunoglobulins (Ig) and growth factors than a product made from BC collected from the same cows during the first three days post-parturition. In much of the existing research, specifics about collection time were not described within the methodology: in other cases. collection times were precisely defined. When reviewing the literature, if specific collection criteria were utilized, it is stated when the study is described.

While all BC contain neutralizing Ig against enteric pathogens, the specific Ig and the neutralizing titer of Ig contained is less predictable and is dictated by previous immune system challenges. For example, in cows exposed to a specific immunological challenge such as rotavirus, the BC produced might contain a relatively high neutralizing Ig titer against this virus (as well as many other pathogenic microorganisms). Conversely, BC collected from cows never exposed to rotavirus, while containing similar amounts of Ig against a variety of pathogens, might...

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Source Citation
Kelly, Gregory S. "Bovine colostrums: a review of clinical uses." Alternative Medicine Review, vol. 8, no. 4, Nov. 2003, pp. 378+. Accessed 5 Dec. 2021.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A111303981