Bovine Colostrum

Bovine Colostrum

Bovine Colostrum

Common Names

  • Hyperimmune Bovine Colostrum
  • Bovine Immunoglobulin
  • Cow milk Colostrum

For Patients & Caregivers

Bovine colostrum has been shown effective in treating diarrhea and infections. There is no evidence that it can be used to treat cancer.

Bovine colostrum is the milk produced by cows for the first several days following birthing. It is rich in antibodies, growth factors, cytokines, and protects the newborn calf from infections. Bovine colostrum has been used as a dietary supplement since last decade. Studies in humans have shown that it has several beneficial effects. Bovine colostrum may contain high levels of estrogen. Individuals with hormone-sensitive cancer or who are allergic to dairy products should avoid bovine colostrum.

  • Athletic performance
    A few studies in humans suggest that bovine colostrum improves exercise performance.
  • Diarrhea
    Specially produced bovine colostrum has been used in clinical trials with postive results.
  • Infections
    There is evidence from human studies that bovine colostrum increases immune responses.
  • NSAID-associated gastrointestinal disorder
    A few studies showed that bovine colostrum prevents the intestinal damage due to NSAID intake.
  • Cancer
    There is no evidence that bovine colostrum can be used to treat cancer.
  • You are allergic to dairy products.
  • You have hormone-sensitive cancer.
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For Healthcare Professionals

Bovine colostrum is cow’s milk secreted during the first few days following calving. It is rich in immunoglobulins, growth factors, cytokines, and confers immune protection to the newborn calf from opportunistic infections. Bovine colostrum has been used as a dietary supplement to treat diarrhea, infections, colitis, and to improve athletic performance. In vitro studies suggest that bovine colostrum has anti-inflammatory (16) and chemopreventive (17) properties.

Results from clinical trials indicate that hyperimmune bovine colostrum, prepared by immunizing cows with the causative agent, is effective in treating diarrhea caused by rotavirus (2), by E. Coli (12)(18), and by Cryptosporidium parvum (3)(4). Preliminary data also suggest that oral administration of bovine colostrum may reduce postoperative endotoxemia during abdominal surgery (5) and postoperative C-reactive protein (CRP)-plasma levels in patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery (6). There is some evidence that bovine colostrum can prevent gastrointestinal damage caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (7)(19) and is effective in treating distal colitis (8).

Bovine colostrum may contain high levels of naturally occuring estrogen (20). Patients with hormone-sensitive cancer and patients who are allergic to dairy products should avoid this product.

Cow’s milk (from the first few days after calving).

  • Colitis
  • Diarrhea
  • GI disorders
  • Immunostimulation
  • Infections

Although the high concentration of immunoglobulins may account for bovine colostrum’s effects, the exact mechanism is not known. Studies suggest that bovine colostrum improves exercise performance (9)(10) by increasing serum insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and may enhance immune response in humans (11). Others have shown that colostrum derived from cows immunized with C. parvum was effective in the treatment of diarrhea induced by C. parvum in AIDS patients (3)(4). Similarly, colostrum from cows immunized with rotavirus alleviated symptoms of rotaviral diarrhea in children (2). Colostrum also reduced diarrhea associated with E.coli (12). Preliminary data from some studies indicate that oral administration of bovine colostrum may reduce postoperative endotoxemia during abdominal surgery (5) and postoperative CRP-plasma levels in patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery (6). There is also some evidence that bovine colostrum prevents NSAID-associated gastrointestinal damage (7)(19) and is effective in treating distal colitis (8).

  • Allergy to dairy products

  1. Kelly GS. Bovine colostrums: a review of clinical uses. Altern Med Rev 2003; 8(4):378-94.

  2. Greenberg PD and Cello JP. Treatment of severe diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium parvum with oral bovine immunoglobulin concentrate in patients with AIDS. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol 1996; 13(4):348-54.

  3. Buckley JD, Brinkworth GD, Abbott MJ. Effect of bovine colostrum on anaerobic exercise performance and plasma insulin-like growth factor I. J Sports Sci 2003; 21(7):577-88.

  4. He F, et al. Modulation of human humoral immune response through orally administered bovine colostrum. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol 2001; 31(2):93-96.

  5. MICROMEDEX(R) Healthcare Series. 120. 2004. Thomson MICROMEDEX (last accessed on 3/28/05).

  6. Masuda C, Wanibuchi H, Sekine K, et al. Chemopreventive effects of bovine lactoferrin on N-butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl)nitrosamine-induced rat bladder carcinogenesis. Jpn J Cancer Res. 2000 Jun;91(6):582-8.

  7. Otto W, Najnigier B, Stelmasiak T, Robins-Browne RM. Randomized control trials using a tablet formulation of hyperimmune bovine colostrum to prevent diarrhea caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli in volunteers. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2011 Apr 1. [Epub ahead of print]

  8. Farke C, Rattenberger E, Roiger SU, et al. Bovine colostrum: determination of naturally occurring steroid hormones by Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Feb 23;59(4):1423-7.

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