Bovine colostrum
Bovine colostrum

Background

Bovine colostrum is a milky fluid that comes from the udder of cows the first few days after giving birth, before true milk appears. This fluid contains proteins called antibodies. These antibodies may fight bacteria and viruses that cause diseases. Antibody levels in bovine colostrum can be 100 times higher than levels in regular cow's milk. Researchers have created a special type of bovine colostrum called "hyperimmune bovine colostrum." This special colostrum is produced by cows that have received vaccinations against specific disease-causing organisms and is high is specific kinds of antibodies.

Bovine colostrum is most commonly used for diarrhea and other infections.
When taken by mouth: Bovine colostrum is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when taken appropriately by mouth. While most people don't experience any side effects from bovine colostrum, there have been rare reports of problems in HIV-positive people such as nausea, vomiting, abnormal liver function tests, and decreased red blood cells. There is also some concern about the possibility of catching "mad cow disease" (bovine spongiform encephalitis, BSE) or other diseases from products that come from animals. "Mad cow disease" does not appear to be transmitted through milk products. But it is probably wise to avoid animal products from countries where "mad cow disease" has been found.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if bovine colostrum is safe or what the side effects might be.

When applied into the eye: There isn't enough reliable information to know if bovine colostrum is safe or what the side effects might be.

When given as an enema (rectally): Bovine colostrum is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when given rectally as an enema.

When given in the vagina (intravaginally): Bovine colostrum is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when given in the vagina as a cream or tablets.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Bovine colostrum is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in children.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking bovine colostrum if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Allergy to cow's milk: If you are allergic to cow's milk or milk products, you may also be allergic to bovine colostrum. In that case, it is best to avoid it.

Effectiveness

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Diarrhea. Taking bovine colostrum seems to prevent infectious diarrhea in children with a history of this condition. It also seems help shorten the duration of this illness in children.
  • Airway infections caused by exercise. Taking bovine colostrum by mouth may prevent upper airway infections in people that exercise. It also might reduce symptoms of airway infections that do occur.
  • Diarrhea in people with HIV/AIDS. Taking bovine colostrum may help reduce diarrhea in people with HIV. Most research has used hyperimmune bovine colostrum.
  • Flu (influenza). Taking bovine colostrum by mouth may help prevent the flu. It seems to work in people that have already been vaccinated against the flu. It may also work in people that have a higher risk of getting the flu.
  • Diarrhea caused by rotavirus. Taking bovine colostrum seems to reduce diarrhea in children with diarrhea due to rotavirus. Most research has used hyperimmune bovine colostrum.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
  • A serious intestinal disease in premature infants (necrotizing enterocolitis or NEC). Giving bovine colostrum to very low birth weight infants doesn't seem to prevent NEC.
  • Blood infection (sepsis). Giving bovine colostrum to very low birth weight infants doesn't seem to prevent sepsis.
  • Poor nutrient absorption that occurs when part of the small intestine is missing or removed (short bowel syndrome). Taking bovine colostrum doesn't seem to improve bowel function in people with short bowel syndrome.
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions
  • Athletic performance. Bovine colostrum might modestly improve exercise performance following a previous exercise bout. But any benefit is small.
  • Autism. Bovine colostrum might improve symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation in kids with autism. Bovine colostrum might also improve some behavior problems. But more research is needed to confirm.
  • Infections in people treated with cancer drugs. Taking bovine colostrum doesn't seem to prevent infections in children taking cancer drugs for leukemia. But more research is needed.
  • Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Early research shows that taking bovine colostrum doesn't improve memory in older adults also taking part in an exercise program.
  • Critical illness (trauma). Giving bovine colostrum to a very ill patient in the hospital might help to prevent diarrhea. But it doesn't reduce the risk of blood infection or the risk of death.
  • Diabetes. Taking bovine colostrum before a meal might help to reduce blood sugar levels after a meal in people with diabetes. It may also lower cholesterol levels. But more research is needed.
  • A sexually transmitted infection that can lead to genital warts or cancer (human papillomavirus or HPV). Early research shows that applying bovine colostrum to the vagina for 6 months may help cure cervical lesions in people with HPV.
  • A condition caused by a poor diet or the body's inability to absorb nutrients. Taking bovine colostrum by mouth may improves weight but not height in young children that are not growing well.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS). Taking hyperimmune bovine colostrum might help treat symptoms of MS. But not all research agrees.
  • Swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis). Taking bovine colostrum doesn't seem to prevent sores in children with leukemia taking cancer drugs. But it might help to make them less painful.
  • Physical performance in elderly adults. Some research shows that taking bovine colostrum improves leg strength in older adults doing some weight training. But it doesn't seem to improve upper body strength or body composition.
  • Illness from a Shigella bacteria infection (shigellosis). Taking bovine colostrum might not help with shigellosis in kids who are also taking antibiotics.
  • Travelers' diarrhea. Early research shows that taking bovine colostrum may help prevent travelers' diarrhea.
  • Inflammation of the colon (colitis). There is some early evidence that a rectal enema containing 10% bovine colostrum might be helpful for treating colitis.
  • Upper airway infection. Bovine colostrum seems to reduce the number of upper airway infections in children who get them often. It also may help prevent upper airway infections in adult men. But it doesn't appear to reduce the duration of upper airway infections if they do occur.
  • Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH).
  • Thinning of vaginal tissue (vaginal atrophy).
  • Bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Building lean muscle.
  • Burning fat.
  • Dry eyes.
  • Elevating mood and sense of well-being.
  • Healing injuries.
  • Increasing stamina and vitality.
  • Repairing nervous system damage.
  • Stimulating the immune system.
  • Slowing and reversing aging.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of bovine colostrum for these uses.

Dosing & administration

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

  • For airway infections caused by exercise: 10-20 grams of bovine colostrum daily for 8-12 weeks has been used.
  • For diarrhea in people with HIV/AIDS: 10-30 grams of bovine colostrum powder has been taken 1-4 times daily for 10-21 days.
  • For flu (influenza): 400 mg of a defatted freeze-dried bovine colostrum daily for 8 weeks has been used.
CHILDREN

BY MOUTH:
  • For diarrhea: 7 grams of bovine colostrum three times daily for 14 days has been used. For preventing infectious diarrhea, infant formula containing 0.5 grams/kg hyperimmune bovine colostrum for one week has been used in infants. Also, 3 grams of bovine colostrum once daily has been used in children under 1-2 years-old, and 3 grams twice daily has been used in children 2-6 years-old, for 4 weeks to prevent infectious diarrhea or for 1 week to help treat infectious diarrhea.
  • For diarrhea caused by rotavirus: 10 grams of bovine colostrum daily for 4 days, or 20-300 mL daily for up to 2 weeks, has been used.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if Bovine Colostrum interacts with any medicines. Before taking Bovine Colostrum, talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

Taking bovine colostrum with food may decrease its effects. Food causes an increase in stomach acid and digestive enzymes, which may break down bovine colostrum.

Action

Bovine colostrum is high in nutrients and antibodies. Hyperimmune bovine colostrum is collected from cows that have been vaccinated to produce specific antibodies that fight the bacteria that cause diarrheal disease. These antibodies appear in the colostrum that is collected as medicine. The hope is that these cow antibodies will help fight human disease. However, the cow antibodies don't seem to be absorbed well. So they might not be active in humans for many infections.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 19/03/2022 00:15:40 and last updated on 27/11/2021 09:11:59. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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