Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First milk (colostrum) for the enhancement of healing and recovery after an injury?

Among the supplements used for recovery is bovine colostrum. Colostrum is the breast milk produced in the first few days after the mother gives birth. This milk is higher in protein, immunoglobulins and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) than the “mature” milk. Commercial colostrum supplements are produced from bovine (cow) milk. Chronic use (few weeks) of these supplements is suggested to improve performance and recovery rate in athletes. However, not all studies show a beneficial effect of bovine supplements on performance and recovery.

In the past, colostrum has also been used for wound healing in animals (Leitzel et al., 1985). Since colostrums is high in IGF-1 it could be speculated that supplementation might help in healing after an injury. Indeed, studies in animals show that IGF-1 stimulates muscle healing and may have a considerable effect on the treatment of muscle injuries (Menetrey et al., 2000). However, these results are based on animal studies and have examined the effect of a single factor on healing process. No doubt, that there are also additional growth factors involved in tendon, muscle and ligaments healing and this should be taken into account when evaluating the results of these studies. It seems that more research is needed on the effect of bovine colostrum supplementation on the healing process after a sport injury.

For more reading
Molloy et al. Sports Med 33(5):381-94, 2003

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