Transfer factor is based on the theory that key immune information can be transferred from cell to cell. These cells then teach our immune system to recognize specific viruses or bacteria. This process has been the subject of intense research for more than fifty years, producing a wide body of knowledge about transfer factor’s contribution to immune health.
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 bodies are able to immediately recognize a pathogen, the individual is able to effectively defend against viral, bacterial, fungal, and other diseases. 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 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.
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.
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.
It is believed that transfer factor crosses mammalian species lines. The theory is that when a person absorbs transfer factor from a cow’s colostrum, the person develops resistance to the 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, chicken derived and bovine colostrum are the preferred source of transfer factor. These forms are the easiest to procure in quantity and they produce 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. In the case of chicken-sourced transfer factor, specific transfer factors are derived from healthy chickens and combined with specific growth factors derived from colostrum. 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 transfer factor are present, before it is encapsulated and bottled.
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
Transfer factor works to assist and support normal immune system functioning. At the onset of supplementation, individuals typically begin with a high dose and then eventually taper down to a minimum maintenance dose.
What to Expect
There may also 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, suggest 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.