So my last post about How I Healed My Leaky Gut generated the most overwhelming (and much welcomed) response from you all.

I received several comments on the blog, Facebook, Instagram, e-mails and even text and phone calls from friends who have reached out to me about experiencing similar GI distress.

As much as I wouldn't wish what I've dealt with on anyone, I found a lot of comfort to hear from you and to know that I wasn't crazy, that it wasn't all in my head and that, most importantly, I wasn't alone. So thank you for that...

So with all of the above being said, there was obviously a ton of questions regarding colostrum.

What is it? How does it heal a leaky gut? How much should I take? How do I pick out a good quality brand? What about dairy allergies/intolerances?

This post is intended to clear up all those questions for you. Ideally, I would have written an informative post like this first, but I really felt the urgency to share my success with others. I had no idea it would generate so much traffic on this site. Glad it did though.

What is Colostrum?

Colostrum, aka "pre-milk", is produced by all mammals (including humans) during late pregnancy for their newborn to drink in the first few days of life, just before the breast milk comes in. The purpose of colostrum is to act as a form of passive immunity and provide a hefty dose of anti-bodies, such as IgA, IgG and IgM, which help to build the newborn's immunity. It also contains antimicrobials and several growth factors.

Growth factors for what, you say? Glad you asked.

You see, when a newborn comes into this world, he/she has holes in their gut to allow for the colostrum and the large proteins (anti-bodies) to easily pass through the intestinal wall and enter the blood stream to make it's way around the body. So while essentially this makes the newborn's gut "leaky", it's a physiological (completely normal) process unlike the pathological leaky gut that I, as well as many others, have suffered from.

Growth factors (such as epithelial and epidermal) stimulate the gut to develop and essentially patch up the holes within the first 2-3 days of birth. Really think about how incredible that process is. Then consider what a colostrum supplement could do for your damaged gut.

I sense an "aha" moment coming on about now.

I had several tests done earlier this year and one thing my doctor was concerned about was the value of my IgA levels. This was a measurement of my mucosal gut lining, and is the bodies first line of defense against pathogens (what the body views as an invader). Normal ranges were 51-204mg/dL-- mine read 57.2mg/dL aka pretty stinking low.

Now keep in mind, I was not breastfed. I initially thought this might be the cause of my life long ailments with GI problems. However, regardless of whether or not you received colostrum within your first days of life or not, several other factors (including diet, Rx meds and stress) can contribute to the development of leaky gut later on down the road.

While this post is not intended to judge those who don't (or can't) breast feed their kids, I can say from personal experience that there was a major downfall to having not been-- I was always sick. I can clearly remember having temperatures so high they threatened to dunk me in a bath of ice. On top of countless colds, the flu, bronchitis, pneumonia x2, strep throat, and the chicken pox 3 times.... all before the age of 9!

In fact it wasn't until I was in my mid 20's that I finally stopped getting sick every year around my birthday. I highly doubt it was a coincidence, considering this was about the same time I adapted a real food based, Paleo lifestyle.

How To Spot a High Quality Colostrum

Before antibiotics became the go-to bandaid for every ailment you went to the doctor for (yes, I'm exaggerating-- but if you too are an 80's baby you know this routine well), it was actually colostrum that was commonly used to fight infection.

In the 1950's it was a popular Rx for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease) as well as being used by Albert Sabin (developer of the polio vaccine) in his first oral vaccine against polio.

Now a days, it's most commonly marketed as a supplement to boost immunity. My friend (who is a Sheriff and who introduced me to this supplement) decided to start taking colostrum when his work schedule began to increase in chaos, demand and stress. He knew that his immune system would need a little extra boost to prevent him from getting sick during this time. What he didn't realize would happen was that his IBS would clear up within 3-4 days of taking it. Mind you he had already switched to a Paleo diet, which helped to significantly reduce his symptoms, but not take care of his problem completely. It was when he accidentally discovered the benefits of colostrum for his chronic GI issues, that he insisted (and insisted, and insisted) that I give it a try. I am so thankful he did because I would still be suffering from constant flare ups had he not.

The uses of colostrum for leaky gut and various autoimmune diseases are becoming more and more popular again as people are beginning to realize that the foods we put in our body directly affect it's ability to heal itself. The links I've provided below, and especially the ones located in my original post on this topic {found here}, provide some remarkable information that I highly recommend you read through.

Here is a piece from an article (found here) that sums up the link between leaky gut and disease very well:
"Leaky gut syndrome is directly associated with many autoimmune diseases, including allergies, alopecia areata, Alzheimer's disease, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn's disease, depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, food allergies and sensitivities, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, polymyalgia rheumatica, Raynaud's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Sjögren's syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and vasculitis. (17-27) The connection between leaky gut syndrome and these autoimmune conditions is the antibodies created by the body in response to the toxic substances and undigested fats and proteins that leak into the bloodstream and attach themselves to various tissues throughout the body, create an allergic response, trigger the destruction of tissues and organs, and create inflammation. As toxicity increases, autoantibodies are created, and the destruction and inflammation become chronic. There is a tipping point at which the body cannot recover from chronic inflammation, and pathological (disease) diagnosis follows."

Comment: There's also a connection between latent pathogens and autoimmune disorders. See the thread on our forum: AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES CAUSED BY AN INFECTION?

Diabetes, depression, cancer, asthma, autoimmune disease, skin disorders, heart disease, inflammation, and even athletic performance are among the many reasons people are supplementing with colostrum. The list goes on and I personally have experienced it heal my gut, reverse nearly all my food allergies/intolerances (still healing-- but I'm about 95% there) as well as improve the quality of my hair, skin and nails.

As far as how much to take goes, you should always start out with the recommended dosage. Kids will take less, and there is usually instructions on that as well. There is a possibility of side effects when you start supplementing with colostrum due to the release of toxins in the body. Head aches, low grade fever, GI discomfort and nausea are the most common and usually only last a day or two, but if you start with a low dose (like I did) you can decrease your chances of experiencing any side effects all together. It's been reported that you can keep increasing the dosage to effect, but that will vary from person to person and is up to the individual to decide. Always take it on an empty stomach for best results.

It's important to note that colostrum may contain traces of lactose and casein. The higher the quality, the lesser the chance of this so it is important to research the company and product before adding it to your regimen. Personally, I have had IgG blood tests done that show extremely high allergic reactions to lactose, casein and whey, as well as digestive intolerances. Yet I have had ZERO issues taking the product I recommend. Now that I've been taking colostrum for some time, I have been able to slowly reintroduce pasteurized dairy without any adverse reactions. Use caution if you have intolerances to dairy, but also do not be immediately discouraged as it often reverses the issues that make it difficult to digest dairy to begin with.

Supplementing with Colostrum

Not all colostrum products are created equal and there are several factors you want to keep in mind when shopping for it. The one I currently use was the best I could find at this time. It has worked remarkably well for me, but it is not sourced from 100% grass fed cows-- I'll explain more about why I'm okay with that in just a moment. However, after reading through all the considerations I've listed below, should you find one better than the brand I currently use, I remain open minded to any suggestions.
  • The source of the colostrum: Colostrum supplements come from many sources. Goat and sheep colostrum are available, but the most common is bovine. Bovine colostrum has been scientifically studied and shown to be nearly identical to that of human colostrum, only 100-1,000 x's higher in potency. The most important thing is to purchase 100% colostrum and not "colostrum-whey" which contains transitional milk.
  • Sustainability of the colostrum: It's also important to consider the calf who also needs their share of colostrum, too! Colostrum should be responsibly sourced only after the newborn calf receives a minimum of 2 quarts so that their needs are fully met.
  • Harvesting time: In order to bottle up the highest concentration of immune and growth factors (the good stuff that repairs the gut), colostrum must be harvested within 8 hours of the birth of the calf. The first brand I tried harvested within 12, and many are up to 18 hours. The brand I currently use not only will harvest their colostrum within 6 hours after the calf has received it's share, but is also third party verified true 6-hour colostrum.
  • Processing of the colostrum: If the product you purchase is minimally processed using a spray-drying method called "flash-pasteuriztion" then it is only heated to approximately 115*F to convert the liquid into a powder. This low heat is not the same as standard pasteurization and only 1% of the nutrients are lost during the drying process, while also giving the product a very long shelf-life.
  • Diet of the source: Colostrum from grass fed and organic sources are best, but I am skeptical when a company merely states that their product is from "grass fed" cows because grass isn't always available 365 days of the year. Of all the products I have found that say they are "grass fed", none of them claim to be 100%. I went with the brand I currently use because they do no advertise as being "grass fed" even though their cows are primarily pasture raised, grass fed and supplemented with grain feed that is organic, soy free and non-GMO.
What form of colostrum is best?

While pills are the easiest form to take, I personally prefer the loose powder form in terms of cost effectiveness. I simply place the amount I want to take in a small shaker and shake shake shake! Only thing is, due to the fat content, it doesn't very mix well. Some readers have shared that using an immersion blender or hand held frother seems to do the trick well. Another option is to buy the loose powder and purchase empty 00 capsules and make your own pills. Regardless, all forms that colostrum come in are thought to be equally effective.

Why aren't more people talking about it?

When my Sheriff friend first recommended the idea of using colostrum to help with my GI woes, I hit the Google search to see what my trusted gurus were saying about it. Crickets.... there wasn't anything. Or at least nothing I could find. Not one person who's blogs I followed or books I read discussed the healing benefits of colostrum for those suffering from leaky gut, or any other ailment for that matter. The reason? I don't know.

I continued to search for any material that linked leaky gut and colostrum together and initially I found nothing. At first this discouraged me from trying it all together. I mean, I was already tied down to several daily supplements and regimens (refer to photo above), was I really up for adding one more?

As I shared in my last blog post about this, it took my Sheriff friend calling and texting me several times before I finally went to my local health store and picked up my first bottle of colostrum. And to my surprise, it worked.

After I realized that there was something to this whole colostrum deal, I decided to Google search again and I finalllllly found one article that supported the idea that colostrum could heal a leaky gut. Then another, and another, then several more. And now they are all rounded up and neatly presented to you in these two blogs. You're welcome ;)

So while I don't know why colostrum isn't being discussed more in the Paleo community (could it be the dairy component?) I really feel that it needs to be. That's why I'm writing this post. People who decide to try Paleo often times show up for the weight loss and stay for the healing. That's how it was in my case anyway. A lot of us were once sick or still are sick and desperately trying to find relief of our ailments and disease through the foods we eat. Could it be that colostrum is the answer, or at the very least, a very large piece of the puzzle that's still missing from your efforts?

Hippocrates All disease begins in the gut
As you finish off this post and reflect on whether or not healing your gut may be the first step towards relieving what ails you, I want to leave you with this final thought; a quote by the Father of Medicine, himself, Hippocrates-- All disease begins in the gut.

Hippocrates said this more than 2,000 years ago.

It's remarkable to think how we are just now realizing how true this statement just may be.

Related posts:
How I Healed My Leaky Gut