Transfer factors are one of the most exciting discoveries in immune-system health in recent decades.
What makes transfer factors so exciting? Their powerful ability to support and reinforce the immune system.
Why do our immune systems need to be reinforced? Because they are under assault like never before. We are exposed to immune-system-damaging chemicals, toxins, pesticides and pollutants every day. According to Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton, author of Stop the 21st Century Killing You, “The number of people suffering from diseases caused or exacerbated by an imbalanced immune system is at an all time high.”(1)
Just a few of the many common illnesses associated with a malfunctioning immune system include:
|Asthma||Irritable Bowel Syndrome|
As scientific technology advances, researchers are finding that many diseases they previously thought were unrelated to infectious agents may actually be caused by viruses or bacteria that either fail to activate the correct immune system response or result in an over-active immune system that attacks healthy cells, as in autoimmune diseases. Even some cases of obesity have been linked to a virus.(2)
The good news is there are all-natural options –– called transfer factors –– available to help you fight off the daily onslaught against your immune system.
that transfer factors are capable of boosting human
immune system health on a grand scale.”
Aaron White, PhD, Biologist(3)
What Are Transfer Factors?
Dr. H. Sherwood Lawrence discovered transfer factors in 1949 while he was studying tuberculosis. He found that an immune response could be transferred from one person to another by taking an extract of white blood cells (leukocytes) from a recovered patient and injecting it into a newly infected patient. He surmised that there must be “factors” in the extract which made it possible to transfer immunity from one patient to another, so he called them “transfer factors.”
How Do Transfer Factors Work?
In order to understand how these tiny transfer factor molecules work, we first have to look at how the immune system functions. The threefold purpose of the immune system is to:
Identify disease-causing pathogens that attempt to invade your body.
Attack and destroy the invading pathogens.
Remember the pathogens it has destroyed so it can repel future invasions.
When your immune system destroys an invader, it creates what is essentially a “memory” of the pathogen so your body can immediately respond the next time it is attacked. This is where transfer factors come into play. These tiny protein molecules can transfer the immune system memories from the donor to the recipient.
In addition to enabling the recipient’s immune system to identify invading pathogens, transfer factors also boost Natural Killer (NK) cell activity. NK cells are the front line of the immune system army, leading the charge against invading pathogens.
As impressive as those abilities are, transfer factors can perform an even more amazing feat. A 1996 study led by Dr. Lawrence revealed that transfer factors seem to be able to normalize the immune system by distinguishing between the need for an Inducer Factor, which energizes the immune system and a Suppressor Factor, which helps an over-active immune system turn off when the job is done.(4)
Source of Transfer Factors
For a little over 30 years after their initial discovery, transfer factors were thought to be found only in white blood cells. Donors were human and patients received transfer factors by injection. Then in the 1980s, scientists found that transfer factors are also present in colostrum, the first milk produced by humans and other mammals after giving birth –– and they could be transmitted orally.
Another important discovery related to transfer factors is that they are not species-specific. In other words, all mammals –– whether human or animal –– produce the same kinds of transfer factors. Since the cow is exposed to many of the same pathogens as humans and produces millions of different transfer factors, it was chosen as the best source from which to extract transfer factors.
Transfer Factor Research – ME/CFS
In the 60+ years since Dr. Lawrence’s discovery, more than 3,000 research papers about transfer factor have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Two will be of particular interest to ME/CFS patients:
A 1996 article in the journal Biotherapy evaluating the use of transfer factor by chronic fatigue syndrome patients stated, “With some studies suggesting that persistent viral activity may play a role in perpetuation of CFS symptoms, there appears to be a rationale for the use of TF in patients with CFS and recent reports have suggested that transfer factor may play a beneficial role in this disorder.”(5)
A pilot study of 20 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome who were given transfer factor found, “Of the 20 patients in the placebo-controlled trial, improvement was observed in 12 patients, generally within 3-6 weeks of beginning treatment.”(6)
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ProHealth’s Transfer Factor EssentialsTM
ProHealth’s Transfer Factor Essentials™ incorporates transfer factors plus several prime immune-system-supporting nutrients designed to enhance immune system activity and provide you with optimized support:
Colostral Extract: In order to create ProHealth’s Transfer Factor, bovine colostrum, collected within 12 hours of parturition, is de-fatted, de-caseinated, and separated. Made up of tiny protein molecules, these transfer factors help boost NK cells and pass key information from cell to cell to teach your immune system to become a better defender of your health.
Beta Glucan: Beta Glucan boosts immune system cells including NK cells, macrophages, and neutrophils. These cells provide the immune system’s first line of defense, help remove cellular debris, and support recovery of damaged tissue.
TMG (trimethylglycine): TMG promotes strong and healthy immune system cells. It plays an important role in the chemical processes that maintain cell DNA and fortifies the immune system with strong T-cells.
Larch Arabinogalactan: A unique dietary fiber, larch arabinogalactan has potent immune-system-enhancing properties. It boosts the number of immune system cells present in the blood and promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
IP-6: Boosts immune system NK cells by supporting healthy absorption of minerals. It is also a naturally occurring component of plant fiber that possesses antioxidant properties.
Astragalus: A traditional Chinese herb, astragalus contains active ingredients such as saponins, flavonoids, polysaccharides and glycosides that stimulate immune system activity.
Zinc: An essential trace mineral, zinc plays a key role in nearly 300 separate chemical processes that are essential to immune system function.
Folic Acid: Plays an important role in supporting DNA in immune system cells as well as supporting nervous system health and improving energy.
Selenium: Functioning as a part of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione, selenium helps protect immune system cells from free radicals.
B-12: Working in several chemical processes, B-12 supports DNA in every cell throughout the body, produces red blood cells, and supports heart and nervous system health. In addition, B-12 is needed to manufacture ATP, the body’s energy source.
Suggested Use: 2 capsules per day. Should be taken daily –– in the morning on an empty stomach or at bedtime. Do not eat for at least one hour after taking Transfer Factor Essentials, or as advised by your healthcare professional.
Storage: Store in a cool, dry place and refrigerate after opening.
Side Effects: Most people do not notice any side effects upon starting the product. However, some patients may experience an initial reaction to transfer factor as the immune system begins to respond. This immune system activation can result in an increase in body temperature and flu-like symptoms. Clinicians experienced in transfer factor therapy recognize this as a normal reaction that usually lasts for only a few days.
Contraindications: Transfer Factor contains highly refined compounds derived from dairy sources. Because of this refinement, people who have minor dairy intolerance may be able to tolerate it, however, those with moderate to high allergies to dairy should avoid this and other dairy products. Pregnant or nursing women should consult their physician prior to taking ANY supplements.
Drug Interactions: none
Karen Lee Richards is ProHealth’s Editor-in-Chief. A fibromyalgia patient herself, she co-founded the nonprofit organization now known as the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) and served as its vice-president for eight years. She was also the executive editor of Fibromyalgia AWARE, the very first full-color, glossy magazine devoted to FM and other invisible illnesses. After leaving the NFA, Karen served as the Guide to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the New York Times website About.com, and then for eight years as the Chronic Pain Health Guide for The HealthCentral Network.
1. Baillie-Hamilton P. The Chemical Connection. Foods Matter. 2005.
2. Ponterio E, Gnessi L. Adenovirus 36 and Obesity: An Overview. Ploss A, ed. Viruses. 2015;7(7):3719-3740. doi:10.3390/v7072787.
3. White, A. Transfer Factor and the Importance of a Healthy Immune System. ProHealth. July 16, 2007.
4. Lawrence HS, Borkowsky W. Transfer factor – current status and future prospects. Biotherapy. 1996;9(1-3):1-5.
5. Levine PH. The use of transfer factors in chronic fatigue syndrome: prospects and problems. Biotherapy. 1996;9(1-3):77-9.
6. DeVinci C. Lessons from a pilot study of transfer factor in chronic fatigue syndrome. Biotherapy. 1996;9(1-3):87-90.