Mini-Molecules with Major Impact - Transfer Factors
Mother Nature thinks of everything. Not only does she provide challenges to us, she also provides answers. All we need to do is look. And we sometimes need to look at minute details.
That is exactly what was done when colostrum, mother's first milk, was examined to see just why it is so vital to the good health of the newborn. It was discovered that mother's first milk, in whatever species, is naturally loaded with nutrients as well as antibodies for the newborn of that species. Colostrum kick-starts the immune system into action. This immune-stimulating effect on the newborn seemed to be understood at that time, but later studies revealed different and even more important functions of colostrum.
What are transfer factors?
In addition to nutrients and antibodies, there are tiny components of the colostrum that play the vital role of transferring immunity to the newborn. These particles are messengers that transfer the 'intelligence' of immunity to the newborn; they transfer the information about what invaders are enemies to the body and what needs to be done to fight them, thus the name transfer factors. Transfer factors are small peptides, composed of 40 amino acids, that store all of the experiences of the immune system and are the intelligence of the immune system.
Transfer factors were originally discovered and named in 1949 by Dr. H. Sherwood Lawrence while he was studying tuberculosis and found that an immune response could be transferred from a donor to a recipient by injecting an extract of leukocytes. He concluded, and it was later proven, that transfer factors, found in the blood and colostrum, are capable of transferring the donor's immunity to the recipient.
First Do No Harm
What was also discovered is that these tiny transfer factors, unlike the species-specific antibodies in colostrum, are not species specific. Transfer factors from human, equine, bovine, canine, and other mammals are alike, and are readily transferable. Therefore, where antibodies cannot be shared from one species to another, transfer factors can. The body accepts and understands transfer factors and what they have to offer, and it has been found that this can happen at any age, not just in infants. Whatever the animal, and whatever the age, transfer factors do the same thing they do for the newborn - educate the immune system about the germs before they invade they body, providing it with an advantage over the invaders.
How the immune system works
To keep the body healthy, the immune system must do three very important things each time the body comes in contact with an invader - first it must first recognize the invader as a threat to the body; second, it must attack and kill off the threat; and third, it must remember that invader so that the body can rid itself quickly of it the next time it is attacked.
A mother, throughout her life, is exposed to a multitude of germs, viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other organisms, sometimes resulting in her getting ill (a primary response). At the first sign of invaders, the immune system recognizes them and activates the antibodies (or makes antibodies if there are none, taking up to 14 days), and the battle begins. Each 'battle' that is fought by the body is remembered in the immune system where this information is kept until it is needed again. The immune system has macrophages (general purpose germ fighters) and may have more specific antibodies for this one invader. A few of these antibodies remain in the body for life - and the body is capable of recognizing an amazing 100,000,000 different types of invaders.
The next time that same invader enters the body, molecules produced from the first attack allow instant recognition of the invader, and what is called a secondary immune response takes place. An instant response is what gives one resistance, or immunity, and this response is made possible by transfer factor memory molecules. This is one of nature's little immune system miracles.
It is important to understand that any immune system is supported by good care, sound nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle. The body needs to be fed adequately, exercised, and subjected to as few unnatural stressors, toxins, and pollutants as possible to maintain health. Exposure to natural threats such as germs and other bacterial, viral, parasitic, and fungal invaders is, however, a vital part of Nature's plan to build immunity and keep it active. Without the exposure, no defenses would be put into place, or kept there. A strong, naturally built defense system also has the means to defend against new and specific invaders to some extent. It is counterproductive to live in a sterile world, and when anti-parasitics, antibiotics, and other chemicals that 'do the job' for the body are misused, the body's own defenses are weakened, not merely because these unnatural chemicals impose ill effects on the body, but more importantly because the immune system then lacks an education - "give a man a fish" versus "teach a man to fish".
This is why there are 'kept' animals that appear
to be healthy and robust but succumb readily to any invader.
When an unhealthy animal is exposed to a threat, it may be too weak or too uneducated to defend itself and will likely 'get sick' and show disease symptoms. If a healthy animal is exposed, it can mount strong defenses quickly and not get sick. Because the immune system has high priority status among all the body's systems, which are all inter-related, some systems in need of repair or attention may have to wait their turn until the immune system regroups. By taking additional transfer factors to assist immune function, it allows for the body to address the other systems in need of attention, thus minimizing recovery time.
If the immune system is compromised - overchallenged, failing, or in overdrive - then it surely can use some help. Taking transfer factors can therefore be of great benefit, moving them in to educate and modulate - to beef up the immune system's defenses, or calm the overactive immune system - whatever is needed. Transfer factors are not only safe with allergies, autoimmune diseases, and otherwise deranged immune system conditions, they are very beneficial for those conditions.
Kenneth Bock, MD, in his book "The Road to Immunity" explains, "Immune imbalance underlies many chronic illnesses. Because transfer factor can function as an immune modulator, it can help to restore immune system balance in many types of clinical situations."
Why does age affect the ability of the immune system?
The older one gets, and the more one accumulates all kinds of new transfer factors, the better the immune system gets. However, as age progresses, the mechanism by which the body recognizes an invader slows down, or makes errors in recognition, giving invaders a head start. Recognition is a key defense mechanism, and in old age or diseases where the recognition process is malfunctioning, the immune system is compromised.
Previously, there was not much that could be done in these situations, but now, transfer factors are proving to be very beneficial. Transfer factors make the immune system much better at recognizing the invaders, plus the already-created defense system can take charge rather than building a whole new army for every invader.
From what source are transfer factors extracted?
Transfer factors, naturally occurring in the blood and colostrum, are produced in abundance by the mother in her first milk. Colostrum is readily collected from the dairy cow and is ultra-filtered by a patented screening process to extract the transfer factors, which are dried and made ready for consumption by another. The transfer factors are not harmed by this simple processing, or by freezing. This processing method that allows for large-scale extraction of transfer factors has only recently been perfected, but a commercial product has now become available.
Transfer factors are available from 4Life Research, the company who holds the patent on the extraction process. The quantity of transfer factors in whole colostrum is very small while the products from 4Life Research have a very concentrated amount. It would take more than a bottle of colostrum capsules to equal the transfer factor power of one capsule of Transfer Factor XF, the original 4Life product. Also, with the other components of colostrum removed, the possibility of allergic reaction is removed. Immunoglobulins found in colostrum can and do cause allergic reactions in other species, and are the source of most cow-milk allergies in humans.
4Life now has various products containing transfer factors, one of which is a new product designed especially for the horse - TF Performance and Show. In it are transfer factors, a thymus complex, a combination of glyconutrients, balanced minerals, trace elements, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and probiotics. It can be used to boost the immune systems of ill horses, horses recovering from injuries, elderly horses, horses who have had antibiotics and other drugs, horses with any immune disorder, and young growing horses as well. Feeding recommendations are given but depend on individual needs.
Tibby Hunt, DVM whose offices are located in both Buffalo and Ontario, says, "As a lifelong horsewoman and holistic equine veterinarian, I try to treat my patients without the use of drugs. Transfer Factor has helped me solve some of my most challenging cases. I have had impressive results in horses experiencing EPM, neonatal respiratory infections, and headshakers, as well as coughs, sinus infections, sarcoids, melanoma, and skin disease."
In addition to the equine TF Performance and Show product, 4Life Research has introduced TF Animal Stress Pack that is designed for use in acute or stressful situations. "Illness, travel and competition are but a few of the situations in which the stress pack should be considered," says Rob Robertson, Jr., MD, of Paducah, KY. "The stress pack is comprised of mega-doses of Transfer Factor Plus, minerals, electrolytes and probiotics. It is recommended that the Stress Pack be utilized first in the compromised horse, and then one can switch to the TF Performance and Show product once the health challenge has been met and defeated."
Raising the immune IQ
Transfer factors give the body a refresher course in immunity. Those minute but mighty particles outsmart disease, increase and enhance the body's existing intelligence, and teach the immune system how and when to activate and deactivate. By transferring information from cell to cell, transfer factors serve as teachers of new cells.
As an important part of the body's immune system, Natural Killer cells (NK) seek and destroy harmful cells through direct contact. Study results showed that 4Life Transfer Factor XF boosted NK cell activity 103 percent ABOVE normal immune response without supplementation, more than two times higher than the next highest product. 4Life Transfer Factor Plus increased the NK cell activity 248 percent, an unprecedented amount of immune boosting ability.
What transfer factors are NOT
Transfer factors alone do not provide any nutrients; they are not food. They are a small component of food apart from nutrition. They are not vitamins, minerals, herbs, or hormones. They are not cells; they are tiny messenger molecules. Transfer factors are not harmful or toxic, nor do they act upon toxins in the body, only the immune system. Therefore, toxicity of the body needs to be separately addressed. Transfer factors can be supportive in keeping a compromised immune system functioning until the toxins are eliminated, or can help the immune system to be prepared to fight cancer and other problems subject to control by the immune system that are a result of the toxins.
Transfer factors do not cure or prevent disease; the body cures and defends itself, with a strong immune system and the help of transfer factors and sound management, including complementary therapies. Transfer factors are not chemically treated or altered, just screened out of a whole product. Transfer factors are not drugs or antibiotics, though they could be used instead of them, by supporting the immune system to fight its own battles and to regulate itself. If the immune system is working properly, antibiotics are unnecessary.
How fast do transfer factors work?
The transfer factors in mother's milk are transferred from her to the new offspring through the digestive tract creating an entire immune system in less than 24 hours. Almost as soon as the transfer factors arrive in a body, the body starts manufacturing exactly the type of antibodies it needs if stressed by an infectious process.
How long do the effects last?
In the newborn, the memory markers of the transfer factors are left in the stem cells, which creates permanent immunity. When we take transfer factors, the memory markers are not left in the stem cells but are left in the blood, which regenerates every 45 days, so the immunity works exactly like our own but is borrowed, not permanent. Transfer factors provide the raw materials for fast, temporary protection while the body builds its defenses. Regular daily consumption of transfer factors provides the widest possible cross-spectrum of resistance and makes the immune system more response-able. It introduces new forces to the immune army and reinforces the existing army while the battle is fought.
Studies and papers, over 3,500 of them, document the safety and immune system benefits of transfer factors and are available at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. First do no harm is what it says in the Hippocratic Oath. It has been shown that a long-term oral administration of transfer factors is safe. They have absolutely no toxicity or side effects, even at mega doses.
Strengthening the immune system is of utmost importance to good health. The use of transfer factors is natural and safe, and can play a major role in maintaining immediate and long-term health, for horses and their people.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace veterinary care.
Natural Horse Magazine thanks Dr. Tibby Hunt, Dr. Rob Robertson, Jr., Michael Ciletti, and Kevin O'Connor for their help in preparing this article.
For more information:
"The Road to Immunity" by Kenneth Bock, MD
"Natural Immune Booster - Transfer Factor" by William Hennen, PhD
"Transfer Factors - Nature's State-of-the-Art Immune Fortifiers" by Rita Elkins, MH
Woodland Books, 866-315-2880 toll free
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