Bovine colostrum seems to be quite the rage in the SIBO community these days. In this post (and the accompanying video), I detail my personal experience using this supplement as well as some research I have examined. I discuss both anecdotal and formal evidence in addition to precautions to consider.
I point out that it is not a good idea to purchase supplements (especially colostrum) from just anywhere- minimal industry regulation means that they can contain harmful ingredients that may actually make you feel worse! Additionally, supplements are typically viewed as harmless by the general public, but some formulations may actually be more harmful than pharmaceutical drugs- so just be cautious!
Here’s the COLOSTRUM VIDEO – it’s a little dry, but has lots of great info for nerdy folks like myself. Since it was made for class, I do not include my personal experience or the information on IBS/SIBO (keep reading for that!). What I do cover in this video is the biochemistry, functions, conditions/uses, precautions, interactions, and fun facts about colostrum.
Research on leaky gut:
I was originally prescribed colostrum as a remedy for healing intestinal permeability (commonly known as leaky gut). When I went to PubMed to look at some research, I was surprised to come across one study that actually showed the opposite effect (JUST one study though- there are plenty showing it can help with intestinal permeability caused by NSAID use). I was surprised by the negative results of this study because in my personal experience, colostrum allowed me to tolerate more foods with less symptoms, which I had attributed to healing leaky gut. It is also possible that colostrum’s immune-modulating properties aided in my symptomatic improvement.
Research on SIBO/IBS:
When looking into the research behind small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and colostrum, I could not find any studies looking into its benefits. However, there has been one study conducted on the impact of bovine colostrum in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, 18 individuals ages 18-80 with irritable bowel syndrome (based on Rome III criteria) were studied. The group that was given colostrum received a Korean product called MuKoBa by mouth daily before breakfast for 4 weeks. It is unclear what dose was given. The 9 individuals in the placebo group received “artificial milk” (whatever that is!). The participants were assessed by filling out symptom and quality of life questionnaires as well as having their endotoxin levels measured. The results revealed slightly improved symptom and endotoxin levels in the colostrum group compared to the controls, but the difference did not reach a level of statistical significance. The authors concluded that colostrum had no benefit for individuals with IBS, but I would argue that the study leaves lots of questions unanswered. The sample size was very small and since we do not know the dose that was used, perhaps it was too low to have much effect. What I think we can take away from this study is that more research is needed to show whether colostrum can benefit individuals with IBS.
 Buckley JD, Butler RN, Southcott E, Brinkworth GD. Bovine colostrum supplementation during running training increases intestinal permeability. Nutrients. 2009;1(2):224-34.
 Yoon JY, Park SJ, Cheon JH. Effect of Colostrum on the Symptoms and Mucosal Permeability in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized Placebo-controlled Study. Intest Res. 2014;12(1):80-2.
Miss Bee says
Hi, do you have to get tested first & what doctor is going to do that? I am very sick from seeing a gastro doctor & from taking all their prescribed medicines that quite frankly, I don’t think are good for you at all!! I’m at a fork in the road because I can’t afford all the tests that you need two buy through the mail, like Direct Labs, they are quite expensive. I’m at the end of my rope with this gut problem every symptom points to SIBO & Leaky Gut. So, after some research, I was just going to take my chances & start taking, Colostrum just to get some sort of relief. I didn’t know if I should also Inc. L-Glutamine, along with the Colostrum or not. I’m trying to do my research I just have so many health issues. I’m also handicapped & I’m having a difficult time figuring out, how to get all this started. You seem, very experienced that I was wondering, if you could direct me in any way? If you’re interested or have the time I’d greatly appreciate it, if not I understand! Thank you for your time.
Hi Miss Bee, In regard to testing for SIBO, some gastroenterologists will test for it, but others either aren’t aware of recent testing guidelines or don’t have the equipment available. I find that more often it’s naturopaths and functional medicine doctors that know where to send you. But I will say that I don’t think SIBO testing is always that helpful (read more here). For leaky gut testing, that also would be through a naturopath or functional medicine doctor. However, it’s unlikely that insurance will cover any of this testing unless you have really good insurance. So that can be a barrier to testing. I can’t offer any personalized guidance on whether those supplements are right for you, but I do personally feel comfortable taking them without testing for SIBO or leaky gut. But I would say that sourcing of colostrum is very important to make sure it is from the healthiest cows possible. I hope that’s helpful.