Bovine Immunoglobulins…Who Knew?! (Or should that be, who moo?)

As you all know, I’m always on the lookout for natural products that can improve immunity and the health of the biome.  Today I devoted myself to reading about bovine IgG and was truly amazed at how much research has been done on it.  There’s a lot unknown at this point (like the best kind, dosages, etc.) but what is not in contention is that this stuff really, really works.

The article I read today is from this past June, and was a summary of the clinical studies (both animal and human) that have been done thus far.[i]  The results are more than encouraging.  And by the way:  for those of you who, like me, are looking for more effective ways of combating flu as the season gets underway (than the uninspiring flu shots that have been exceptionally bad these last couple of years)  – pay particular attention to this post.

First, a quick explanation.  IgG (immunoglobulin G) is one type of antibody humans and animals produce – the main one circulating in our blood. Just as humans pass on antibodies to their infants when they breast feed, providing immune protection to babies who have undeveloped immune systems, so do other milk-producing animals.  It turns out that the antibodies purified from cow milk not only successfully pass through the stomach acid, but provide excellent immune benefit to people:  “…bovine IgG can be functionally active throughout the gastrointestinal tract.  Indeed, a large number of studies in infants and adults have shown that bovine IgG (or colostrum as a rich source thereof) can prevent gastrointestinal tract infections, upper respiratory tract infections, and LPS [toxins from bad bacteria]-induced inflammation …Mechanistically, bovine IgG binds to many human pathogens and allergens, can neutralize experimental infection of human cells, and limits gastrointestinal inflammation.”

I have heard of these products, which can be bought commercially, but have not as yet given them a try.   I currently am in a flare up of my IBS, and yesterday, my doctor told me to try one for the next few months.  His recommendation was Igg Protect by Ortho Molecular Products .

You all know me though – before starting anything, I want to know more about it.

The article I read has so many high points, I am going to struggle to make a top-10 list but…here goes!  (These are not in any particular order. Sorry this is so long but – I didn’t want to leave out anything that really floored me!)

  1. “Bovine IgG can not only bind to a wide range of pathogenic bacteria and viruses, but also to many allergens.”  Studies have shown it to be effective against bacteria ranging from rotavirus to E.coli, to Klebsiella pneumoniae, to Samonella, to Streptococcus, to H.pylori.
  2. Studies also show it to be effect against allergens like rye grass pollen, house dust mites, and even wheat allergies.
  3. In some of the studies, “hyperimmune colostrum” was used. This special product is obtained by vaccinating the cows to a specific pathogen, so that the IgG product will be especially rich in those antibodies.  In an uncontrolled human trial against Clostridium difficile (C.diff), just such a product was used.  It did prevent relapse after antibiotic treatment.  A double-blind study was also done testing the effectiveness of bovine IgG versus the antibiotic, metronidazole.  The colostrum IgG was as effective in preventing C.diff-associated diarrhea as treatment with the antibiotic.  A hyperimmune IgG product rich in antibodies to H.pylori also showed, (in a double-blind trial) effective clearance of this pathogen.
  4. Some studies have been done looking at whether or not bovine IgG can infer prophylactic protection. This was tested in healthy volunteers who were given E.coli. (They’d have to pay me a lot to volunteer for this study!) None of those who received the hyperimmune colostrum against E.coli developed diarrhea while 9 out of 10 of those in the control group did.
  5. Studies done in immune-compromised patients with HIV are incredibly promising. Bovine IgG not only protected them against a variety of infections but also decreased fatigue, helped them gain weight, and improved T-cell counts.
  6. “…bovine immunoglobulins from non-immunized cows [not hyperimmune IgG] have been shown to be able to bind to…influenza virus.” One study showed reduced “…severity of influenza infection, by reducing viral load…”
  7. “Five studies have shown a reduced incidence or severity of upper respiratory tract infections in children that received colostrum from non-immunized cows.”
  8. Bovine IgG improves intestinal barrier function, thus reducing leaky gut.
  9. It is highly anti-inflammatory and has been tested in models of diseases including irritable bowel and inflammatory bowel diseases. For example, in a mouse model of colitis, those receiving bovine colostrum had reduced weight loss, better blood test results and increased levels of IL-10 and T-regulatory cells.  In humans, it’s been shown to improve symptom score in those with irritable bowel with recurrent diarrhea.
  10. In fact, that ability to boost the regulatory system (the off-switch to inflammation), also seems to prevent excessive immune response to commensal bacteria, such as is seen in inflammatory bowel disease: “Oral IgG enhanced the expression of IL-10 producing Treg, decreasing Th1 and Th2 cytokines…These studies indicate that oral immunoglobulins may help to regulate immune response to the microbiota as well as allergens – on the one hand promoting immune exclusion of pathogens, and on the other hand preventing excessive immune responses to commensal bacteria.”

So not to make a really bad pun…but HOLY COW!

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[i] Ulfman, LH, Leusen, JHW, Savelkoul, HFJ, Warner, JO, Joost van Neerven, RJ. Effects of Bovine Immunoglobulins on Immune Function, Allergy, and Infection. Frontiers in Nutrition. 2018;5(52). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2018.00052


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