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Colostrum is a milky substance that is typically excreted from the milk-producing glands of cows and other mammals for several days after they have given birth, and its excretion usually stops when the mammary glands begin to produce true milk. The colostrum from cows, or bovine colostrum, is a natural food that some people drink for its health-promoting effects, despite the chance of colostrum side effects.
Bovine colostrum side effects do not develop in all users, but the most common colostrum side effects include mild nausea and flatulence. Some infectious agents may be passed from infected cows into bovine foods products, and the pathogen that causes bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), or mad cow disease, has also been linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans.
In some cases, children and people with weak immune systems take bovine colostrum to treat infectious diarrhea. Athletes have used bovine colostrum to enhance their performance in some instances. Rectal enemas made with bovine colostrum may be beneficial in treating colon inflammation disorders such as colitis. Bovine colostrum has been used by some people who want to improve lean muscle mass, slow the aging process or increase stamina. Researchers have generally found insufficient scientific evidence to support most bovine colostrum uses, and they continue to study colostrum side effects.
Some cows have developed bovine spongiform encephalitis from a pathogen known as a prion. Bovine spongiform encephalitis typically causes damage to the brains and central nervous systems of infected cattle. Products from cattle infected with BSE may cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, but a link between this infectious disease and colostrum side effects is not clear in many cases.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease causes several symptoms that may include rapid development of dementia or delirium, problems with coordination and muscle twitching. Hallucinations, confusion and changes in personality have been reported by some patients with this disorder. Speech impairment and sleepiness may also occur with CJD. The rapid development of symptoms makes it unlikely that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease can be confused with dementia disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease that tend to develop more gradually.
Physicians often use patient symptoms and an examination of mental functioning and motor skills as they diagnose Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain, spinal taps and blood tests may be used to confirm a diagnosis of this condition. This disease is usually not curable, although interleukin medications may slow the progression of the disorder. In some instances, custodial care can be helpful for patients with declining mental functioning from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Many people with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease become incapable of caring for themselves within six months of the onset of symptoms. Death typically occurs within eight months of the appearance of symptoms, although a few people have lived for one to two years with his condition. Heart failure, respiratory failure and infection are possible complications of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease that can contribute to a patient’s declining health.