Got an Infection? Consider the Use of Lactoferrin

Got an Infection? Consider the Use of Lactoferrin

Everyone lately has been discussing the immune stimulating benefits of colostrum as one of the best supplements that can be made from dairy. 1 I do not agree with this blanket statement, because there is some research that colostrum intake may be rendered useless by stomach acid and digestion and, therefore, colostrum would not stimulate the immune system. 2

Lactoferrin ingestion, on the other hand, can survive digestion 3 and can be very beneficial for improving one’s health if they are ill. Lactoferrin is a multifunctional protein that is one of the many components of an animal’s innate immune system. 4 Lactoferrin exhibits strong anti-microbial activity and can easily be extracted from most mammals milk (mainly from cows, goats, and sheep.) Lactoferrin may also help improve bone strength and function. 5 Finally, supplementation increases tear production in people afflicted with Sjogren’s syndrome. 6

Anti-Bacterial Properties

Lactoferrin has strong anti-bacterial properties; it can destroy both opportunistic bacteria itself and the biofilm that some bacteria love to use as armor from antibacterials. Lactoferrin scavenges free iron in the body 7 and also binds to lipopolysaccharides in the bacterial cell walls. These reactions cause bacteria not to be able to use iron for respiration that is necessary for bacteria growth and function. 8 When lactoferrin binds to lipopolysaccharides in bacterial cell walls, the oxidized bonded iron scavenged, creates excessive oxidative damage, harming the overgrowth. 9 In addition, lactoferrin damages the bacterial cell membranes causing them to lose permeability. 10 Finally; lactoferrin stimulates the immune system by increasing the phagocytosis ability of white blood cells. 11

Some bacteria produce protective biofilms (one of the most common examples of a biofilm is the “film” on your teeth when you have not brushed for awhile) that make eradication sometimes with antibacterial agents very difficult. Biofilm protects the bacteria from elimination by antibiotic treatments, natural antibacterial agents, bactericides, and probiotics. 12 To eliminate the opportunistic bacteria you have to also destroy the biofilm that it is hiding behind. Lactoferrin breaks down bacterial biofilm by chelating iron out of the biofilm cell walls, so that the biofilm breaks down and dissolves. 13 The immune system and antibacterial agents are now free to eliminate the opportunistic bacteria.

Finally, lactoferrin may help prevent the attachment of H. pylori to the stomach lining, leading to its eventual elimination from the body. 14

Anti-Viral Properties

Lactoferrin is used in the treatment of Hepatitis C 15 and other viral infections because it also possesses strong anti-viral properties. Lactoferrin binds to lipoproteins in vitro and prevents viruses from entering a cell for replication. Lactoferrin may also bind to viruses, directly blocking them from being able to bind to host cells in the body for replication. 16 Viruses without a proper cell host are eventually eliminated by the body’s innate immune system. Finally, it may suppress cellular viral replication once a cell has been infected to further hinder a viral infection. 17

Iron-free apolactoferrin might be the best form to eliminate viruses because the iron binding action of standard lactoferrin is useless in combating viral infections. 18 I would use apolactoferrin for a period of time if I had a cold or the flu, to shorten the duration. Research apolactoferrin to see if its use applies to your health condition.

Anti-Yeast Properties

Lactoferrin has been shown to have anti fungal and yeast activity, but the mechanism is not yet known. 19 There is a theory proposed that it can destroy the yeast’s cell walls and bind to the plasma membrane of Candida albicans. 20 Lactoferrin have been shown to help control yeast infections in quite a few in vivo / in vitro studies. 21 22 23

Supplementation and Side Effects

Lactoferrin might be able to be supplemented on a low dose of 100 mg on a daily basis long term safely if needed. Honestly, though I would only supplement lactoferrin if I had an infection or believed that I may be getting an infection. The average dosage that would be taken if you are ill ranges from 250 mg – 1,000 mg a day, depending on the severity of the infection. Always take lactoferrin in divided doses throughout the day with food.

The only known side effect of my knowledge with supplementation is that a rare systemic allergic reaction may occur (you may be more susceptible to a reaction if you are allergic to cow’s milk, which most lactoferrin is produced from).

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  1. Very eye-opening!

    But I’m confused about something.

    It’s claimed that lactoferrin chelates iron… but it’s also claimed that lactoferrin increases iron (free iron? ferritin?)…

    Is it the case that when lactoferrin is ‘processed’ in the gut, the iron it ‘contains’ is released (and so increases serum iron, later stored as ferritin) and then whatever remains of lactoferrin then binds to iron in cells/bacteria etc (and so chelates iron)?

    I dont want to increase my iron levels but I do want the anti-bacterial and anti-viral benefits of lactoferrin. Is apolactoferrin the solution?


    • No, technically apolactoferrin would also bind to iron and increase the concentration in the body, if it is needed. The body has a negative feedback loop with iron absorbed by lactoferrin, through bile release, but this might be hindered in people with digestive issues.

  2. Hi …HELP I Had a huge REACTION to lactoferrin!
    I took Eden lactoferrin 250mg (it read active ingredients 250mg lactoferrin..& vegetable capsule) later perhaps a couple of hrs or so.. I took one sachet of spa natural mountain iron source (which if taken previously on and off certain periods but cant say I have felt better on ever and perhaps a little unwell but no vomiting or anything severe)
    Anyway The next day I developed a funny chest and began violently vomiting and felt like in was poisoned and dying it went on for hours and next couple days after felt nauseous.

    I have lowest ferritin levels near my menstral cycle I’m really struggling ..more… yet on high side for iron in blood (red hemoglob) so what do you suggest pls?

    I have a history of gastro issues originally I had quite antibiotic resistant helocobacter pylori which I finally killed using bismuth as part of my quadrupole therapy with docs .I’ve continued to have gastro issues …..and recently it’s gotten worse …
    Been diagnose with chronic fatigue as I’m struggling fifty percent of the time to do my daily tasks…
    I saw lactorferin as my answer and feel a bit traumatised by the day after I tookit and now afraid ….what to try again…was it the the brand ..unlisted inactive ingredients ..pls help

  3. Hi John,

    What would you suggest. If a person have both viral and bacterial infection. Should he/she takes both drugs – lactoferrin and apolactoferrin. What can you say about dosage and treatment duration? Also one important queistion – it is necessary to take lactoferrin before bed in night?

  4. Hi John,

    Do you recommend suspending the intake of lactoferrin prior to a GI stool test and to a SIBO breath test? The lactoferrin was added to the protocol due to low ferritin levels caused by bacterial overgrowth (diagnosed by organic acids testing).

    I was aware that one should stop taking probiotics and herbal medications, such as oregano oil, once the protocol is over, for at least two weeks before (or maybe more time?) testing to confirm progress, but now I am wondering about other supplements such as lactoferrin, spirulina, propolis and prebiotics. What’s your take on this? Anything else worth suspending before those tests to avoid false negatives? Many thanks!

    • Of course discuss it with your doctor, but I think lactoferrin would interfere with a stool test and breath test. I would also stop propolis (antimicrobial properties) and prebiotics. Spirulina should be ok.

  5. Side note: I also purchased Galactoimmune to replace the probiotics as mentioned in the Candida Protocol.

  6. Good morning John,

    First of all: thank you for your time to provide all the information in the book and elsewhere on the web.

    I just purchased Lactoferrin, but my ferritin levels are on the low side. Do I have to use the lactoferrin with caution to not deplete the levels any further?

    One more question: I’ve got a yeast overgrowth existing of both candida glabrata (5.0x10fourth) and another undeterminable yeast (4.0x10fourth) AND SIBO. Would you advice in my case to use, apart from the antifungals/microbials, Lauricidin as mentioned on the Candida Procotol together with Lactoferrin as mentioned in the SIBO Protocol?

    Thank you in advance for your response!

  7. Hey, that was a really great article, thank you for that! I had a quick question. I’m trying to break down the biofilm of a chronic blastocystis hominis infection, which form should I take APO or the regular Lactoferrin? I bought the AOR Brand of Lactoferrin at my local health food store before reading your article, it was the only one there. I’m also taking doses everyday of Saccharomyces Boulardii, Florastor brand, will this cause issues some Lactoferrin is anti fungal? Taking S. Boulardii since so far is the only thing that works to show no blasto in stool.. I stopped for a while on a Period Piece on stage and the next stool testing it was chronic…. Let me know if I should stop while on Lactoferrin and the dose and duration may try the Jarrow. Xo

    • Regular lactoferrin, you want to bind iron away from the parasite.

      S. boulardii rarely colonizes, it does however upregulate the immune system and increases SIgA levels in the gut. This is why Blasto is reduced while you are taking the probiotic. It is near impossible to rid ones self of Blasto once they get it but if you can make the parasite behave as normal flora, it shouldn’t cause you any issues.

      I need to change the link of the article recommend Jarrow. Jarrow is half APO, half regular. Symbiotics seems to be full lactoferrin.

  8. Can Lactoferrin be take on an empty stomach? Why is it suggested to be taken with food?

  9. Interesting quote from New Scientist on lacoferrin:

    “However, the team also found that lactoferrin did not break down existing biofilms. “This means it would have to be used early in infections, before biofilms form,” says Singh.”

    This goes against what this article says about lactoferrin breaking down biofilms. Do you have a reference to support that claim?

  10. I read a couple of comments over on WebMD where it helped with sinus infections, but caused constipation.

    In reply to Benplanet, lactoferrin has no lactose in it. Google for more info.

  11. Would this help with Sinus infections?

  12. There is supposed to be no lactose or casein in lactoferrin, therefore someone with lactose intolerance should have no issues with taking lactoferrin supplements.

  13. What if you can’t tolerate lactose? do you still recommend taking this supplment?

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