I am conscious of what goes into my body, and I greatly believe that nature in all her wisdom is capable of providing us with all the protective, nourishment, and remedial substances the body could ever need. One example of natures magic substances is Aloe Vera. Aloe, or Aloe vera (Latin), has been used medicinally for over 2,000 years. Ancient Egyptians used aloe to treat skin problems, and modern research has proven that aloe is effective as an anti- inflammatory. Natures list of beneficial substances is extensive to say the least. Information on this subject is bountifull on the internet, and is there for the health conscious to utilise as they see fit.
So, we are aware of natures wonderous creations and how their functions when used to treat the body can be of great benefit, and this leads me to the star of this article, a lesser known substance named Lactoferrin.
Lactoferrin is an isolated protein derived from milk. Studies have shown that Lactoferrin has amazing properties, that benefit our health when used both internally and externally. Currently commercial lactoferrin is derived from bovine (Cows) milk, however it is also present in greater levels in human milk (breastmilk). Although largely unknown, Lactoferrin is being used in infant formulas, food preparations, a small amount of cosmetics and as a general immune boosting supplement.
Lactoferrin is bio-logically active. Defined this means, having an effect upon a living tissue, organism or cell. The real appeal of Lactoferrin has to be its bio-active functions upon the body. Recent research points to the following suprising attributes of this natural substance.
Used Internally - Supplement form
The strong affinity for iron is the key to understanding lactoferrins beneficial properties. Since it binds readily with iron, it improves the body's uptake of iron (bioavailability of iron) and so helps prevent iron deficiency and anemia, which are nutritional disorders affecting around 20 per cent of the world's population. In binding with iron, it also deprives harmful bacteria of this essential resource and so inhibits their chances of surviving and multiplying. Apart from this antibiotic property, the binding with iron reduces the chances of the formation of free-radicals and so helps prevent cell damage that is part of the aging process.
Studies have also revealed the beneficial effect of lactoferrin on gut health. This protein helps maintain optimum levels of beneficial bacteria such as bifidus in the intestinal tract and so prevents gastrointestinal inflammations. Lactoferrin does not target specific types of bacteria. This nonspecific nature has proved to be a blessing in disguise (Many antibiotics are designed to counter specific bacteria. They can become less effective over time because bacteria are capable of developing strains that are resistant to the antibiotic. This is not the case with lactoferrin).
Lactoferrin has exhibited significant activity against Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Staphyloccocus aureus, Candida albicans, HIV, herpes simplex type 1, hepatitis C, cytomegalovirus and other pathogens in vitro (in a lab dish) studies. Anti-Oxidant Its ability to carry iron without generating free radicals is one form of antioxidant activity. This antioxidant activity helps protect the body.
Anti-mricrobial, Anti-bacerial, Anti-fungal
Lactoferrin helps protect the body against bacteria, viruses, fungi and other infectious microorganisms, which explains its presence in mucosal fluids. Lactoferrin sequesters iron, leaving little available for the propagation of microorganisms. It can also inhibit the binding of bacteria or viruses to host cells, thus preventing infections.
Lactoferrin has been shown to reduce inflammation both in the skin and in the gut. It does this by inhibiting the production of the cytokine mediators that lead to inflammation. It has also been shown to upregulate the proliferation of polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs). PMNs are the first responders to inflammation and are responsible for clearing up any exudates associated with inflammation.
Perhaps one of the most promising uses for lactoferrin may be in its potential as a non-toxic, anti-cancer agent. Extensive in-vitro and in-vivo research with animals has shown lactoferrin to be a powerful anti-cancer agent. Multiple studies using both rats and mice exposed to a toxic chemical (azoxymethane) known to cause tumors throughout the gastro intestinal tract, administered concomitantly with lactoferrin, showed a large reduction in intestinal polyp development throughout the intestinal tract. One study found lactoferrin to be very effective at suppressing the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells. So much so the researchers concluded that lactoferrin “…might become one of the new drugs of choice for the adjuvant therapy against pancreatic cancer.”
There it is then, one of natures secrets is being slowly utilised and is showing massive promise in many areas of health and wellbeing. The properties of this natural milk protein are greatly beneficial. Used as a supplement to benefit general health and protect against bacteria, used on the skin to delay the aging process of cells, provide bacterial protection and a reduction of any inflammation. More so used as an agent to combat more serious health conditions. Nature gifts us in many ways and Lactoferrin is yet another blessing.