What Are the Benefits of Bovine Colostrum?

by Megan Ashton

About Megan Ashton

Megan Ashton began writing professionally in 2010. When she isn’t writing, she works with clients as the owner of Total Health & Hypnotherapy. She graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Arts in communications then continued her education at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, where she became a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Megan is also a Clinical Hypnotherapist.


Bovine colostrum is the milk secreted during the first few days after a cow gives birth. A thin, yellowish fluid, it carries immunities that are transferred from mother to calf. Bovine colostrum, with an identical chemical structure to human colostrum, is consumed fresh or in supplement form by some people for a variety of health-promoting purposes.

Mechanism of Action

Colostrum has immune-stimulating, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. The exact mechanism of action of bovine colostrum is unknown, according to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Bovine colostrum contains high levels of protein and growth factors and an abundance of nutrients, including cytokines and immunoglobulins -- antibodies used by your immune system to identify and destroy harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. The colostrum present in cow milk after birth prevents the calf from contracting opportunistic infections or getting sick.

Immunity, Athletic Enhancement and Gastrointestinal Health

Bovine colostrum is used as a human dietary supplement to stimulate the immune system and to treat diarrhea and a variety of infections. Colostrum is also used to enhance athletic performance; its usefulness as an athletic aid may stem from the insulin-like growth-factor hormones found in colostrum. Colostrum is used for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders; bovine colostrum may help to treat colitis and prevent gastrointestinal damage caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Additional Purported Benefits

According to the website NaturalNews.com, bovine colostrum supplements are used to increase energy, prevent and treat upper respiratory tract illnesses and influenza, increase the body’s ability to burn fat and increase muscle mass, enhance bone growth and development, accelerate healing of injuries and increase overall vitality and stamina. Bovine colostrum also may contain anti-aging properties and promote longevity. The use of bovine colostrum supplements for these purposes is primarily anecdotal, not based on scientific evidence.

Choosing a Bovine Colostrum Source

No significant side effects are reported from colostrum supplementation. You can purchase fresh colostrum from your local dairy farmer; it should be kept refrigerated. For the best results, according to NaturalNews.com, choose a bovine colostrum source or supplement that is pesticide-, antibiotic- and rBST-free and comes from pasture-fed cows, because they have a higher range of immunities. If you buy a processed bovine colostrum supplement, choose a powder or capsule form instead of tablets for maximum effectiveness. Take bovine colostrum on an empty stomach because food can interfere with the activity of the supplements. Individuals who are allergic to dairy should not supplement with colostrum.

Photo Credits:

  • cow. cow in farm/field image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.