The use of transfer factor represents one of the most exciting advances in immune system health. Transfer factor is based on the observation that key immune information can be transferred from cell to cell. These cells then teach our immune system to recognize any specific pathogen including viruses, bacteria and yeasts. This is particularly exciting given the therapeutic role transfer factors may play in activating and enhancing cell-mediated immunity in individuals suffering from chronic illness. This theory has been the subject of intense research producing a wide body of knowledge about transfer factor’s contribution to immune health.
Transfer Factor – Immunity through Memory
The immune system’s job is to recognize potentially harmful invaders, called pathogens, and then to destroy or neutralize them. If our body is unable to immediately recognize a pathogen, the individual is able to effectively defend against pathogen caused disease. Transfer factor molecules are the key to the immune system’s memory of past pathogen exposure, and thus, are an integral component for maintaining immune system integrity and effectiveness.
Transfer factors are tiny protein molecules, which are produced by immune cells called T cells. Transfer factors allow the immune system to remember conditions for which immunity has already been established.
When a person has been infected with chickenpox in childhood, for example, the body develops a memory of that illness which prevents the person from becoming re-infected later in life. In the future, the specific immune transfer factor molecule for chickenpox will endow the immune system with the exact “blueprint” of what chickenpox looks like, and the body will be able to quickly recognize and respond to any possible re-infection before it can cause disease.
There are several million naturally occurring different types of transfer factors circulating in the human body. However, a healthy body can still function even though it may be missing about 50,000 different transfer factors.
Many of these immune memory molecules were introduced to us from our mother’s colostrum. This first milk as it is called, is the richest source of concentrated transfer factors known to scientists. Transfer factor in colostrum has the sole purpose of transferring immunity from the mother to the baby’s immature immune system. This imparts the mother’s immunity to the baby to help ensure survival while the baby’s immune system matures.
For individuals challenged by specific pathogens, whether known or unknown, supplementation with the appropriate transfer factor molecule may provide the ‘missing link’, thereby allowing the immune system to target and destroy the offending pathogen and mitigate the symptoms of the disease.
What is the source of Transfer Factor?
All mammals produce transfer factor, however scientists prefer to work with bovine (cow) colostrum. A healthy cow already produces millions of different transfer factors, but when the cow does come into contact with a pathogen such as a virus, it produces a new transfer factor for that specific virus or pathogen.
Because of its small molecular size transfer factor is able to pass through the stomach unharmed by digestive enzymes and stomach acids. The calf is then able to easily absorb this immune memory molecule, which gives it immunity to all the same pathogens as the calf’s mother. This inherited immunity will protect the baby from the same disease-causing organisms the mother was protected against.
Transfer factor crosses mammalian species lines. When a person absorbs transfer factor from a cow’s colostrum the person actually develops resistance to the same pathogen to which the cow was exposed.
How is Transfer Factor Produced for Human Consumption?
Due to practical considerations in the manufacturing and processing of transfer factor, bovine colostrum is the preferred source of transfer factor. It is the easiest colostrum to procure in quantity and it produces significant amounts of various transfer factors.
Colostrum from healthy, organically-fed cows is filtered and purified to provide a mixture of pure transfer factor molecules. Numerous rigorous techniques including further purification and isolation result in pure transfer factor. Every lot produced undergoes rigorous testing, to ensure that the appropriate and effective levels of each desired transfer factor are present, before it is encapsulated and bottled.
Also, people who are lactose intolerant or who have allergies need not be concerned about a reaction since all traces of milk proteins and lactose are removed during the extraction and concentration process.
When to Use Transfer Factor
How will a person know if transfer factor will be beneficial for him/her? It is important to be tested for a variety of different pathogens, to determine potential causative factors. If the test comes back positive, the patient should discuss the use of transfer factors with his/her physician. Certain conditions, for example, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, may be triggered by a variety of pathogens.
Research has indicated that several viruses may be playing a causative role. These include several members of the herpes virus family, all known to establish life-long residence in the infected individual. Many published clinical and research studies have indicated that the Human Herpes Virus Six (varients 6A and 6B), Epstein Barr Viruses and Cytomegalovirus may have some relationship or involvement in CFS.
Transfer factor will not remove or cure the problem in itself; rather transfer factor works to assist and support normal immune system functioning. At the onset individuals typically begin with a high dose and then eventually taper down to a minimum maintenance dose.
What to Expect
There may be an initial reaction to transfer factor, as the immune system begins to recognize and respond to pathogens that it was formerly unable to recognize. This will cause immune system activation that 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 is characteristic of other products that can impact the immune system, such as whey protein.
Over Fifty Years of Research into Transfer Factor
Over fifty years of research, producing more than 3,000 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, confirms transfer factor’s ability to support the body’s immune system response mechanism.
Transfer factor’s significance as immune system support is underscored by the fact that an independent committee of researchers, scientists and doctors, formed a professional organization dedicated to the study of transfer factor. The International Transfer Factor Society (ITFS) is comprised of world-renowned medical experts such as Giancarlo Pizza, M.D. of Italy, Dimitri Viza, M.D. of France, and Paul H. Levine, M.D. of the United States. HW