Colostrum (kulos'-trum), sometimes called "mothers' milk," is a thick yellow fluid produced from the mammary glands during the first hours after birth. This fluid is so important that without it, many newborn mammals would simply die. It is not only a source of nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals, but it also contains several biologically-active molecules which are essential to the body's immune and growth functions.
For obvious reasons, human colostrum is not an option. So researchers had to look elsewhere for supplies. After nearly 10 years of research, scientists now believe that bovine (buffalo) colostrum is the only safe alternative for human consumption. Not only are the immune and growth factors found in bovine colostrum virtually identical to those in human colostrum, the immune factors are reportedly four times richer.
Moreover, bovine colostrum contains special glyco-proteins and protease inhibitors, which are found extremely effective in protecting colostrum's active components from the destructive forces of the human body's digestive system.
Since colostrum is only available during the first hours after calving, and the needs of the newborn calf must be met first, supplies are obviously still very limited. And when you consider colostrum should be taken from only buffalos that are free of antibiotics, pesticides and synthetic hormones, supplies of the highest-quality colostrum are even more limited. (We'll discuss the processing of high-quality colostrum and where you can find it later in this article.)
The two most important components found in colostrum are immune and growth factors. Immune factors provide immunity and protection against infections during the first weeks of life, while growth factors stimulate the growth and eventual development of a newborn.
Because of medical advances during the fifties and sixties, many doctors recommended against breastfeeding. Thousands of babies never received the natural immune factors colostrum provides — that initial boost to our immune and digestive systems. After humans reach puberty, the amount of immune and growth factors present in our bodies begins to decline. We become more vulnerable to disease, our energy level and enthusiasm lessens, our skin loses its elasticity, and we gain unwanted weight and lose muscle tone. We also live in a toxic environment, with pollutants and allergens all around us.
Research* has shown that Colostrum has powerful natural immune and growth factors that bring the body to a state of homeostasis — its powerful, vital natural state of health and well being. Colostrum helps support healthy immune function; it also enables us to resist the harmful effects of pollutants, contaminants and allergens where they attack us.
Plus, the growth factors in Colostrum create many of the positive "side-effects" of a healthy organism — an enhanced ability to metabolize or "burn" fat, greater ease in building lean muscle mass, and enhanced rejuvenation of skin and muscle.