In Fascinating Colostrum: An Ancient Food For Modern Times, John Heinerman writes:
“Colostrum was used in ancient times by different cultures for both nourishment and remedial purposes. In an apocryphal work entitled "The Book of Sirach" (written sometime between 300-275 BC), this "first milk" from a female animal who had just given birth, was ranked up there with wheat, honey, salt, water, fire and iron as being some of the "necessities of life." (R.H. Charles' The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of The Old Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976; I: 459).”
Fast-forwarding two millennia or so ...... In 1950, a physician by the name of Dr. Albert Sabin made the discovery that colostrum contained antibodies against polio, and recommended to his at-risk patients that they consume colostrum, as an inoculation against the debilitating disease. Building upon the results of his initial studies with colostrum, Dr. Sabin went on to become the inventor of an oral polio vaccine.
The interest in colostrum as a natural remedy, which had been active up until the time of Dr. Sabin’s discovery, was rendered largely dormant (at least in western cultures), for a period of forty years or so (1950-1990) -- as sulfa drugs, cheap antibiotics and other synthetic pharmaceuticals became more readily available, and were promoted as being superior to more natural or “folk” alternatives. As a result, the remarkable benefits of colostrum as a natural supplement and support for the immune system faded, for this period of time, from public view.
The good news is that, in more recent decades, there’s been a renewed upsurge of interest in the healing powers of colostrum. This has included thousands of articles (published in peer-review scientific journals) which establish the wide-ranging health benefits of colostrum, with its potent spectrum of immune and growth factors, vitamins and other bioactive compounds.
Though in certain western cultures (e.g. the United States) the interest in bovine colostrum as a health supplement has waxed and waned, in other parts of the world it has been more consistently honored, and even revered, for its rejuvenating capacities:
* Images in heiroglyphic texts offer evidence that colostrum was used by the Ancient Egyptians. For instance: on a stela within a temple dedicated to Hathor -- the cow goddess and symbol of rebirth -- archeologists discovered an image of the goddess suckling the Pharaoh, offering her colostrum as an elixir of immortality for the new king.
* In India, where cows are considered sacred, Ayurvedic physicians have, for thousands of years, used bovine colostrum in the treatment of skin conditions, eye infections and a host of other maladies. It is also, to this day, consumed by India’s Rishis (spiritual teachers) -- as part of their vegan diet, for its spiritual blessings as well as physiological benefits.
* For centuries in England, Sweden and The Netherlands, colostrum has been a traditional folk remedy and tonic, consumed by all members of the family -- children and adults alike -- for year-round health. The “first milking” of a cow (i.e. of the colostrum, also known as the “beestings”) following the springtime birth of a calf is traditionally made into a pudding, to celebrate the birth and promote good health.
* Masai tribesmen in Kenya are known to drink bovine colostrum by the liter, as a tonic to increase their strength and vitality. And indeed, they have a reputation for being extremely healthy, and able to withstand adverse conditions and extreme physical challenges. As in India, cows for the Masai are revered -- considered their most important form of wealth -- and the tribesmen sing songs of praise to colostrum, to honor and celebrate the great benefits they derive from it.
As you can see from this cursory review, the benefits of colostrum -- its capacity to support healing and vitality -- have been known to diverse cultures, for hundreds and thousands of years. And there now are reams of scientific evidence in support of these claims. Bovine colostrum truly is a magnificently potent substance, a gift and blessing from our cow-friends!