Colostrum 101: Everything to Know About the Trending Wellness Ingredient

Colostrum 101: Everything to Know About the Trending Wellness Ingredient featured image
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There are two types of people: those who are familiar with the magical effects of colostrum, and those who aren’t. If you fall under the user category, guess what? You’re on your way to a whole new world of health benefits.

Colostrum is the first milk produced by all mammalian mothers after giving birth. Newborn babies thrive off the nutrients from colostrum in order to grow healthily, but as it turns out, children are not the only humans in need of this “liquid gold.” Colostrum supplements are a one-way ticket to a stronger immune system, improved digestive health and potentially improved skin at any age. Scroll through to see how you can fit this health-enhancer into your life.

Colostrum for Athletes

In two studies conducted by Frontiers in Nutrition and The European Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that bovine immunoglobulins, aka colostrum, can support upper respiratory health and increased athletic performance. In the first study, raw milk consumption in the first year of life was found to be associated with a decreased risk of upper respiratory tract infections later in life.

In the second study, professional soccer players on a training regimen who consumed 3.2g of bovine colostrum a day for six weeks showed a dramatic increase in athleticism due to the consumption of the capsules. The results? The athletes exhibited increased squat jump height, increased countermovement jump height and decreased blood levels of markers related to muscle damage. If you’re looking to increase athletic performance for longer without respiratory side effects, this supplement may help.

Colostrum for Gut Health

“Bovine colostrum is also remarkable at decreasing the symptoms of leaky gut, which is a stomach issue that often develops in people who are highly athletic,” notes chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic, Michael Roizen, MD. Leaky gut is an overarching term for constant bloating, gas, food sensitivities, and aches. Taking colostrum capsules—versus applying them topically—can dramatically help with these side effects. If you have symptoms like these, you may also struggle with irritated skin.

Colostrum for Acne

When your gut is inflamed and in stress mode, this, in turn, can impair the protective role of our skin. In fact, the skin is one of the first places to show the effects of an impaired gut. Santa Monica, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD identifies this direct relationship as our “gut skin” axis. “The bacteria living in our digestive tract and intestines influences our overall health including the health of our skin. Colostrum—along with digestive enzymes and probiotics—if taken internally, may have a positive effect on our digestive health and ultimately lead to healthier and clearer skin.”

Although colostrum supplements may have a benefit for the overall health of the gut, and therefore the skin, the ingredient also comes in a topical form, which is proven to narrow its focus on specific parts of the skin we wish to heal, like eczema on the backs of the arms.

In a study published by The International Journal of Dermatology, human breast milk was shown to work just as effectively as 1-percent hydrocortisone ointment in reducing atopic dermatitis, aka eczema, in babies. What this tells us is that it’s incredibly effective at hindering inflammation, which can be beneficial for common skin concerns like wounds and rashes. Because it has been shown to work quickly in healing wounds, it may (although this is not proven) correlate to acne, too.

“I have not seen data on colostrum helping acne, but I think it may do really well because we think acne is caused by the growth of a specific set of bacteria. Because colostrum has factors that stimulate the production of normal bacteria, or acne-fighting bacteria, it might be a very useful approach at combating this skin concern. Understand the phrase ‘might be’ because we don’t have good enough data on this,” notes Dr. Roizen. 

Colostrum for Hair

“Colostrum can help to reduce inflammation for the scalp and fight off bacteria, keeping the scalp healthy which is beneficial for healthy hair growth,” notes Dr. Shamban. The secret ingredient for moisture binding? Hyaluronic acid. “Its protein lipid concentrations are certainly good for the quality, strength and elasticity of the hair strands,” she tells us. Although it might enhance growth by moisturizing the hair, “it will not actually grow or regrow hair regardless of claims on any product packaging.”

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