Symbiotics Colostrum Plus (http://www.symbiotics.com/)
As readers know, we are very health conscious. In part it is because we know that it is better to avoid sickness than to treat it. In part it is because we have gotten so sick so often. While we have been fortunate enough to suffer from relatively minor horrible diseases – malaria, cholera, ad nauseum (or ad nausea), rather than the more generally terminal horrible diseases like viral hemorrhagic fever – we nonetheless give a good look at anything that might help our immune system.
Our enthusiasm du jour is for immunogens is an old standby, colostrum, and a new standby, EpiCor. By odd coincidence, we get both of these at the same on-line store, http://www.iherb.com/
Colostrum is an important part of mothers’ milk. While we all know the benefits of mothers’ milk for babies, many are not familiar with the benefits to adults. They are many, including strengthening the immune system. Colostrum is extremely well researched, and there is a great deal of scientific literature available for those interested. We take a scoop with a large glass of liquid in the morning on an empty stomach (you are trying to get it into the small intestine, and Symbiotics Colostrum Plus has been designed to not be destroyed by stomach acid on its way to the small intestine), and a scoop in the afternoon or evening.
EpiCor is a new immunogen derived from brewers yeast (Sacchromyces Cerevisiae). According to the literature, it was discovered that workers in a fermentation facility had very low illness rates. From this discovery came EpiCor. The recommended dosage is one capsule per day.
Since taking these we have not gotten sick, and that includes, somewhat uncharacteristically, not getting a cold when those around us were getting them. We like to think that Colostrum Plus and EpiCor played a part in this.
Immunogens and auto immune disease
Now you may think that the purpose of this article is to extol the virtues of Colostrum Plus and EpiCor. And you would certainly be at least partially right. But the real lesson we hope you carry away is that you should speak with a physician that knows something about nutrition before taking any supplement. Particularly if you have a known health issue. If you have no health issues, and have no particular interest in nutritional mysteries, you can stop reading here, though we hope you plow through to the end.
The need to be careful in choosing supplements was made clear to us when we considered recommending Colostrum Plus and Epicor to a friend who suffers from Coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat (and similar proteins found in members of the Triticeae family, such as barley and rye). The disease causes the immune system to damage the villi of the small intestine, which prevents nutrients from being absorbed. This isn’t good!
It is very difficult to avoid gluten. You can obviously give up toast, sandwiches, pancakes, and cakes, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. A lot of products that might not intuitively seem to contain wheat turn out to have some thrown in. A product that clearly does not contain wheat may be moved on a conveyor belt on which they sprinkle flour so the product doesn’t stick, thus causing cross-contamination. The envelope you lick may use mucilage made of wheat. Soy Sauce and MSG are wheat-based, so there goes your Chinese food. And if they didn’t clean the grill well, your eggs may contain the residue of the pancakes that were just made.
So, did we want to blindly suggest looking at an immunogen to someone with an autoimmune disease? Not hardly! Instead, we spent a lot of time in communication with the good folks at Symbiotics and Embria Health Sciences, and even more time reading the literature.
Based on our conversations with the Symbiotics Colostrum Plus folk, and on what we have read, we learned three things.
First, we were told that no harm can be done by taking Colostrum Plus. Not making things worse is, of course, our primary concern.
Second, it appears that symptoms of Coeliac disease generally appear after infancy, which likely corresponds to weaning, and which, it was suggested to us, may be an additional indication that mothers’ milk is likely to be benign.
Third, a study of the literature indicates that colostrum has an immunomoderating behavior in other autoimmune diseases, apparently due to the presence of Proline-Rich Polypeptides (of which there are about 29 mg in each scoop of Colostrum Plus). It was suggested to us that this might be the case with Coeliac disease, too.
It is therefore a hypothesis that Colostrum Plus might moderate the ill effects of accidental ingestion of gluten by one suffering from Coeliac disease. The recommendation to our friend – keeping in mind that we are neither doctors nor even play doctors on TV – will therefore be that they should check with their physician, and, if there is no objection, that they might try a single scoop (about 5 grams) of Colostrum Plus. If there is no unanticipated bad reaction, a second scoop can be taken half a day later, with this being continued as long as there are no ill effects.
The case for EpiCor was less clear to our untutored eye. However, it appears that snti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies are markers for some autoimmune diseases – although there is no clear connection between these markers and clinical symptoms – and it was suggested to us that what may be a wonderful choice for those with healthy immune systems may warrant more caution for those suffering from autoimmune diseases since there are still unanswered questions.