Immune GI Health
Category: Colostrum & Immune Health
Theory: Bovine Colostrum May Have Novel Uses for Food Allergy Relief, Autoimmune Disorders, and Immune Defense
More than two centuries ago, Hippocrates wrote, “All disease begins in the gut.” His bold statement is perhaps even more profound today. Scientists and medical professionals have discovered the influential role that digestive (“gut”) health plays in many chronic conditions and diseases related to the function (or dysfunction) of the immune system. Just as gut health may contribute to modern-day ills, it may also help in management or prevention of these conditions. Hippocrates also said, “Let food be thy medicine.” And that’s a great place to start, but we first need to understand the conundrum of modern life.
Aside from unhealthy lifestyle habits (poor diet, inactivity, stress, smoking), there are a bevy of environmental factors that we have very little control over. Most places on the planet are inundated with glyphosate and other pesticides in the food supply, toxins in the water and air, and chemicals in household cleaning products and topically-applied products (shampoo, shaving cream, skin lotion, makeup). Exposure to these dangerous substances is nearly unavoidable and over time, an accumulation of exposure leads to leaky gut (intestinal permeability) and an imbalance in the gut and skin microbiomes, soon to followed by unpleasant and many times, serious health issues.
Food sensitivities and G.I. discomfort are often the first sign of a leaky gut. Other symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, brain fog, or mental health issues, can often be vague, so laboratory tests which evaluate the amount of glyphosate exposure or the degree of leaky gut are recommended. Some of these tests are available direct-to-consumer and others can only be ordered by a physician. These tests provide a baseline from which you can reduce exposure and/or make efforts to remediate leaky gut.
- Glyphosate: exposure can be measured by analysis of either a urine or hair sample. This is a key factor in assessing how badly the gut has been affected and serves as a theoretical correlate of intestinal permeability.
- Zonulin: can be measured in either a stool or blood sample. Zonulin is a protein which is a key indicator of the degree, or amount, of intestinal permeability.
- Food Sensitivities Test: detecting antibodies in a blood sample means that a specific food(s) has crossed the gut barrier into the bloodstream. Is a proxy for intestinal permeability.
Leaky Gut in More Detail
The term leaky gut, or intestinal permeability as it’s referred to in the medical community, identifies an increasingly pervasive health condition in which the lining of the small intestine is more permeable than it should be and is affected by various irritants. The normally tight junctions between the epithelial cells separate to allow entry of toxic material into the bloodstream that would, in healthier circumstances, be repelled and eliminated. The gut becomes “leaky” in the sense that bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and their toxins, and undigested food particles, chemical toxins, and waste normally not absorbed into the bloodstream in the healthy state, pass through a damaged, hyperpermeable, lining.
When foreign substances enter the bloodstream, the immune system reacts by creating antibodies against these substances. This is the immune system’s normal function, so it’s doing its job. However, ongoing leakiness leads to overstimulation of the immune system which, if not corrected, eventually leads to the creation of antibodies against one’s own tissues (autoantibodies). This vicious cycle is believed to be a contributing factor in allergies, autoimmune conditions, and a gateway to serious health concerns. Read More…
Repairing the Gut with Colostrum
Supplementing one’s diet with powdered bovine (cow) colostrum may be the ideal food to act as a “medicine” in remediating leaky gut and improving overall gut and immune health. A mother’s own colostrum functions to heal her newborn’s leaky gut within the first few days of life, and because bovine colostrum does the same for newborn calves, it offers the ideal solution for humans of all ages.
Research to support the use of bovine colostrum in repairing leaky gut has been of great interest since the earliest animal studies in the late 1990s. One of the earliest studies involved pigs who received feed mixed with hydrochloric acid (HCL), intended to caused G.I. damage, which simulated human ulcers. One group of pigs received bovine colostrum; they recovered from the damage and experienced even greater improvements in their gut health, more so than either the pigs who did not receive colostrum, or the pigs who did not receive HCL-laced food.
Human studies followed (although, not with HCL) in individuals who had G.I. damage caused by NSAID use. Colostrum remedied the existing damage and prevented further damage when pain medication was taken simultaneously. After bovine colostrum was identified as a potentially valuable nutritional treatment of ulcerative bowel conditions, later research showed that it could help attenuate leaky gut which frequently occurs due to intense, prolonged exercise.
Here are some of the more formidable studies on bovine colostrum and G.I. health:
Playford RJ, Floyd DN, Macdonald CE, Calnan DP, Adenekan RO, Johnson W, Goodlad RA, Marchbank T. Bovine colostrum is a health food supplement which prevents NSAID induced gut damage. Gut. 1999;44:653-658.
Playford RJ, Macdonald CE, Johnson WS. Colostrum and milk-derived peptide growth factors for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jul;72(1):5-14.
Playford RJ, MacDonald CE, Calnan DP, Floyd DN, Podas T, Johnson W, Wicks AC, Bashir O, Marchbank T. Co-administration of the health food supplement, bovine colostrum, reduces the acute non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced increase in intestinal permeability. Clinical Science (London). 2001. Jun;100(6):627-33.
Marchbank T, Davison G, Oakes JR, Ghatei MA, Patterson M, Moyer MP, Playford RJ. The nutriceutical bovine colostrum truncates the increase in gut permeability caused by heavy exercise in athletes. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2011;300:G477–G484.
Davison G, Marchbank T, March DS, Thatcher R, Playford RJ. Zinc carnosine works with bovine colostrum in truncating heavy exercise-induced increase in gut permeability in healthy volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Aug;104(2):526-36.
Hałasa M, Maciejewska D, Baśkiewicz-Hałasa M, Machaliński B, Safranow K, Stachowska E. Oral Supplementation with Bovine Colostrum Decreases Intestinal Permeability and Stool Concentrations of Zonulin in Athletes. Nutrients. 2017 Apr 8;9(4):370.
Eslamian G, Ardehali SH, Baghestani AR, Vahdat Shariatpanahi Z. Effects of early enteral bovine colostrum supplementation on intestinal permeability in critically ill patients: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutrition. 2019 Apr;60:106-111.
Playford RJ, Weiser MJ. Bovine Colostrum: Its Constituents and Uses. Nutrients. 2021 Jan 18;13(1):265.
Supplementing with Bovine Colostrum for Better Gut & Immune Health
If you decide that taking powdered bovine colostrum will be part of your gut-healing journey, you’ll need to recognize that colostrum works best when you also “do all the other right things.” That means improving your diet, getting regular exercise, managing stress, not smoking, and avoiding the factors that antagonize or irritate the delicate gut lining and microbiome. Top of the list is avoiding glyphosate and not eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), followed by removing unnecessary antibiotics, pain killers, and other gut-irritating medications.
The human body is quite good at healing itself, once the “bad actors” are eliminated. Symptoms of leaky gut don’t go away overnight, though. The remediation process can take weeks to months depending on your unique situation and the state of your immune system. And because environmental toxins are always a threat, supplementing with bovine colostrum is a lifetime, lifestyle commitment. Adding it to your daily diet should be a priority, regardless of whether or not you undergo professional testing for leaky gut.
The Path to Wellness Never Ends
Staying abreast of the current research is important to your continued understanding of colostrum’s health benefits. Take charge of your life by making a commitment to better health, more energy and vitality, less physical and mental pain, and longer healthspan.
If Hippocrates were alive today, he’d probably say, “All disease begins in a leaky gut.” He might even say, “Let colostrum be thy medicine.”
Start Your Gut-Healing Journey Today with Bovine Colostrum!