All About Colostrum

FASCINATING COLOSTRUM: An Ancient Food for Modern Times (Chapter 1)

by John Heinerman, Ph.D.

 

COLOSTRUM AND THE MEANING OF LIFE


Origins and Purposes
Of all the varied forms of life upon planet Earth, none are as unique or special as mammals. They are warm-blooded creatures. And except for egg-laying monotremes such as the platypus or spiny anteater, all other mammals give birth to live young. Land-based mammals include the horse, cow, sheep, goat, pig, camel, antelope, deer, cat, dog, wolf, bear, lion, tiger and so forth. Man, along with the monkey, ape and lemur belong to that class of mammals known as primates. Aquatic mammals include the whale, porpoise, dolphin, manatee, seal, sea lion and walrus.

Besides giving birth to live young, one other unique feature distinctive only to mammals is that all females have mammary glands, which secrete vital substances important to the health and well being of their newborns. Immediately before and right after the delivery of the young, all mammalian milk secreted by females, whether land-based or water-dwelling, contains a thin protein-rich substance known as colostrum. This "green milk", as some have been apt to call it, usually lasts for two to four days.

The highly readable two-volume work, Milk: The Mammary Gland and Its Secretions (1961) by editors S. K. Kon and A.T. Cowie, explains in a very comprehensive way the tremendous importance of this pre-milk substance. Colostrum is incredibly rich in essential amino acids, those protein building blocks that are a definite requirement for growth, development and protection against bacterial and viral infections.

As explained in this monumental study on milk in general, life really couldn't go on for very long without the introduction of colostrum into the young bodies of mammalian newborns. Regardless of whether it be a colt, calf, lamb, kitten, puppy, human boy or girl, or infant whale or baby seal, every single mammalian offspring requires that form of colostrum peculiar to its own species.

Usually within 48 to 96 hours following parturition, the colostrum in most mammals has become transitional milk. Mature milk is then secreted some ten days after delivery. An ironic twist of creation, however, makes humans dependent upon colostrum later in their adult lives; whereas no other land or aquatic mammal will require it as they grow and mature. This later need for more colostrum in man is due in large part, believe it or not, to his extremely complex system ofliving arrangements and the various stresses which such a sophisticated life style obviously imposes.

It would be fair to say, based on what we know about mammalian colostrum in general, that without it newborn life of any kind would have a very short existence - measured in a few days or weeks at the most. Zoologists, with whom I have spoken concerning the role of colostrum in Mammalia, have been unanimous in their belief that it defines the physical and mental development of life after birth better than any other substance in those first critical days upon arrival.

Colostrum Moustache?
In 1998 the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board launched with (wouldn't you know) federal tax dollars (roughly $97 million), one of the most highly successful marketing campaigns ever conducted in the history of American advertising. About 92 famous celebrities from every walk of life were featured in numerous television, billboard and print ads sporting little white "milk moustaches" on their upper lips with the two-word caption below, "got milk?" (Ironically, milk consumption didn't soar as expected and taxpayers everywhere were taken for another "ride" down that awful memory lane of wasteful government spending.)

Well, those who sell high-quality colostrum might just want to consider painting small "colostrum moustaches" on the presumed portraits of Neanderthal men and women living in the very latter part of the Pleistocene epoch (a geological time frame stretching from two million to 11,000 years ago). During the end of the ice age and when a wide variety of large mammals such as the saber-toothed tiger, woolly mammoth and giant sloth were roaming the planet, an exceptionally robust regional variant of archaic Homo Sapiens emerged. These were the Neanderthals, and they were unlike any other human being before or since their time.

Discovery of one of their skeletal remains in 1856 in the Neander Valley (Neanderthal in German) near Dusseldorf gave them their famous name by which they've become known. They've managed to intrigue the world ever since. The Neanderthal race lived during times when the climate was cooler in their habitat. They hung out mostly in Western Europe, but some did manage to wander as far as Palestine.

Neanderthals had big brains in keeping with their larger body size. However, expanded cranial capacities didn't necessarily equate to higher IQs. Besides bigger noses, larger jaws, stronger teeth, denser bones and more closely compacted muscle tendons, the women had wider pelvises and birth canals; 20% bigger than their modern American counterparts. Neanderthal females were capable of delivering heavier babies, averaging 12 to 15 pounds -- after nearly a year's gestation!

Furthermore, according to the book In Search of the Neanderthals (New York: Thames & Hudson Inc., 1993) by paleoanthropologists Christopher Stringer and Clive Gamble, Neanderthal bodies were built "unbelievably strong". What they didn't make up for in height (averaging 5 and 5 1/2 feet usually), they certainly compensated for in very tough and lean body mass. This short and stocky physique is somewhat reminiscent ofthat modern Inuit (formerly Eskimos), albeit more extreme. In fact, as both authors have correctly noted, we seem "very puny" in comparison to these physically overbuilt and super strong human beings.

Such facts, of course, raise the question as to how they managed to get this way in the first place.

There is enough evidence to suggest that they may have had frequent access to a variety of mammalian colostrum throughout much of their limited life spans. Neanderthals were definitely not vegetarians, as many of their common hunting sites have demonstrated. The great variety of animals they hunted included bison, giant deer, red deer, pig, ibex, antelope, wild sheep, musk ox, gazelle, wild goat and woolly mammoths. It appears from the great frequency of bones in certain locales (up to 90%) that these people had a definite preference for aurochs, or giant primitive cattle, and reindeer.

Scientists who've specialized in studying such things have interpreted these large skeletal remains in different ways. Some anthropologists (including myself) are of the opinion that these aurochs and reindeer were kept for other food purposes besides their basic meat value. Several Icelandic studies have reported that reindeer colostrum is one of the richest in the world in terms of nutrients. The same could also be inferred for auroch colostrum, though they have been extinct for several thousand years. A few evolutionary biologists have also bought into the "colostrum feeding" habits of these Neanderthals, even going so far as to insist that these people regularly consumed the pre-milk substance whenever it became available. And some paleontologists think that the fairly consistent combination of lean red meat and mammalian colostrum may have contributed to the extreme bone mass density and incredibly strong striated muscle tissue for which these people were so famously known.

Additionally, the bone marrow, brains, hearts, livers, kidneys, stomachs and other choice internal parts were highly desired and consumed with obvious relish. All of these organs are intensely concentrated with key trace elements critical to human health needs.

Muscle Growth & Energy Output
In order to better appreciate how the Neanderthals may have acquired their unusual muscle mass and high energy output through the regular consumption of various mammalian colostrum, it is necessary to look at several of the potent growth stimulators found in it. These miniature proteins or peptides promote muscle growth and energy expenditure in a really big way.

A while back, a report in the popular ultra-athletic publication Ironman Magazine (August 1992) identified what these various "revolutionary" colostrum growth components were: Insulin-like Growth Factor one (IGF-I) -- Clearly the most significant and potent of the two insulin-resembling peptides.

Insulin-like Growth Factor two (lGF-2) - The second of the pair, but not as dynamic as the first.

Basic Human Growth Hormone (bHGH) -- Better known as somatotrophin, this pituitary¬ originating protein hormone is usually lacking in those who are extremely undersized for their years as well as in those elderly people who really show their age.

Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor (bFGF) - An essential growth hormone produced in cooperation with the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which forms all of the body's tendons and connective tissues. Epidermal or Epithelial Growth Factor (EGF) - This cell transforming peptide occurs in the salivary glands and normal and pregnancy urine of most mammals. It frequently drops from the tongues of grazing cattle and results in more dynamic pasture growth. And when animals are injured in some way, they will instinctively lick their wounds with some of this EGF, thereby greatly accelerating the healing process.

There is a great deal of science involved in the explanation of how all of these various growth factors and hormones in mammalian pre-milk substance (particularly bovine colostrum) work inside the system to promote skeletal growth, lean muscle mass and energy expenditure. A more simplified version, therefore, seems prudent.

The curious and wonderful way in which any living organized body works is called by science, metabolism. This represents the sum of the many different chemical changes occurring within that unspecified body. Essentially there are two basic forms of metabolism: anabolic (to build up) and catabolic (to use up). The speed at which such changes happen is known as basal metabolism.

On the anabolic side of things, a living body converts substances generated within or delivered from without into other useful components for the construction (growth) and well being (maintenance) of itself. While over on the catabolic side, there is a constant breaking down in that body of numerous complex chemical compounds into simpler ones, which is generally accompanied by the liberation of physical energy. These "used up" substances are eventually excreted through defecation, urination, perspiration and sometimes expectoration.

Looked at another way, anabolic metabolism converts small molecules of matter into large ones, while catabolic metabolism changes these big molecules back into small ones again. Probably the very best example of such constant bio-transformations within the living body is the conversion of amino acids into proteins for energy, only to be broken down later on in the liver and excreted as urea in urine discharges.

The combined effect, which the foregoing growth stimulators found in ancient mammalian colostrum had in the biological systems of Neanderthals and other prehistoric humans, was nothing short of amazing! Here you have people who lived towards the end of the ice age, when the climate was mostly cool, if not downright cold, much of the time. They had to continually hunt for sufficient food to keep them alive and well. Those times were tough and the living was rough, to say the least. Meat didn't always fill the nutritional bill, but mostly satisfied hunger and gave quick energy.

That is why other food items entered the picture from time to time. Mammalian colostrum, especially that obtained from long since extinct giant primitive cattle, was an obvious backup choice. Its various growth components helped to build thick stout bones, tough muscle sinews and fuel a very rugged and robust human engine in general. In fact, had it not been for a variety of mammalian colostrum, these and similar Paleolithic races (such as the Cro-Magnon) would surely have perished well in advance of when they actually did.

It is really no different today with modem athletes who favorably compare in some of the physical activity levels that these ancient Neanderthals did. A variety of stresses, physical, social and environmental, often hastens the catabolic side of metabolism, while the nurturing anabolic reactions sometimes are unable to keep up. Mathematically speaking, the health equation during strenuous activity should be: AI=AO (Adequate Input = Adequate Output).

Some sports medicine doctors, coaches and athletes already understand this. For example, a recent study from Finland, published in a 1997 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology (83(4): 1144- 1151), demonstrated the wonderful potential of bovine colostrum in nine male sprinters and jumpers. These athletes underwent three randomized eight-day treatments separated by two weeks and one day. The volunteers were given either 25 milliliters (ml) or 125 ml of bovine colostrum, or a placebo of normal milk whey. The bovine colostrum, in both the low and increased doses, produced significant elevations in body IGF-I concentration during the period of supplementation. This showed the Finnish biologists that colostrum IGF-I isn't denatured in the gut (as formerly believed) and that athletes can actually endure greater physical challenges due to increased muscle and organ stamina during extreme energy expenditures.

Similar testing has also been going on with athletes in the land "down under." Researchers from the University of South Australia in Adelaide have had 40 athletes on daily doses of cow colostrum for up to two months with incredible results. One exercise physiologist reported to the London-based Reuters News Agency that "our boys have run longer, covered greater distances and done more work" than before supplementation began. Greater stamina is demanded during popular sports such as soccer and Australian Rules football (which permits breaks in the game that American football doesn't allow, making recovery time important). And another study by the same university has shown preliminary benefits in building muscle mass and reducing body fat in combination with a weight-training program for athletes in such power sports as discus-throwing, shot-put and sprinting.

The Meaning of Life
Quite frankly, life can be absolute boredom without frequent physical activity of some kind. The Neanderthals were more into survival than we are, but certainly had their own peculiar leisure pastimes. In any event, they were always expending great amounts of physical energy. In order to do so confidently and normally, it seems without a doubt that they turned to mammalian colostrum quite often to make such demanding actions possible.

We are no different today in our pursuit of physical pleasures that excite the human spirit and thrill the mortal heart and mind. Men and women of every age often engage themselves in some type of sport or gaming activity which will relieve for a while the incessant mental and emotional stress under which all of us must labor from time to time.

The ability to endure what we don't like and the capability to enjoy vigorous things that we do like requires a reasonably strong constitution to endure and the energetic wherewithal to carry out. But if our biological systems simply can't tolerate or even minimally perform what we enjoy, then the true purpose of our existence comes into question. And, for that matter, the entire meaning of life itself gradually moves from the sun into the shade.

Colostrum, by definition, is that substance which immediately follows birth in the mammalian mother. For a brief space of time the newborn is pumped full of different growth factors to assist in its development, maturity and maintenance! Because the human species has been so uniquely designed by an all-wise and very loving Creator, it requires constant maintenance at all phases of life with nature's "perfect food."

Thus, if colostrum can be counted on to do just one thing for you it would be this - to carry you daily from dawn to dusk with a smile on the outside and pure satisfaction on the inside that everything is going better than it did before and will continue the same way for the rest of your earthly stay. No greater promise of health can be made for a natural product so beloved as this. Indeed, it can be truthfully said that colostrum nicely maintains the physical elegance of life, which, believe it or not, also happens to be its meaning as well.

<< INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 2 >>

PDF of Dr. Heinerman's complete article available HERE.

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The Sovereign Health Initiative is committed to the belief that each person holds sovereignty over his or her body. We further support the principle that in order to take ownership of one’s health, it is necessary to make informed decisions through self-education. To this end, it is our aim to offer critical information to educate the public on how to live a lifetime in optimal health.

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