Got an Infection? Consider the Use of Lactoferrin to Improve Your Health

Got an Infection? Consider the Use of Lactoferrin to Improve Your Health

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 digestion3 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 body7 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 C15 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.)

Recommended Brands



  1. All Lactoferrin is Apo lactoferrin we were told? Do you know if that is true! Thank you

  2. Hi! Not sure if these comments are still being read, but here it goes….

    After ten years of chronic illness, I just had my first lab to show low ferritin levels. I found a bottle of Lactoferrin in the back of my supplement drawer to start supplementing with, but noticed it “expired” just over a year ago. Would it still be safe to use in your opinion?

    Thank you! :)

  3. Thank you John, for your incite into lactoferrin. I try and make this brief, I have a tiny worm that goes throughout the body, I have tried every worm killer known to man they all helped but were cumbersome to use and you had to be vigilant in their use, most could not be used for long periods, these things were in eyes ears scalp nose,that is probably why what kills them in the gut doesn’t work elsewhere as well. I had many symptoms, animals also get them also. also they are very contagious you don’t have to come in contact with the person or animal. By accident I realized Lactoferrrin was working better than anything else,I noticed the best improvement in ears at first, I didn’t have to use peroxide in my ears maybe every 2 weeks I would feel a tickle, apposed to in the beginning 2 years ago, 3 times a day. I can also eat carbs without a setback, I use jarrow and I also started taking colostrum, once I started taking both 12 hrs apart is when I started feeling a complete cure was in sight, I am 98% better, and have stopped the other things I have been taking. The problem I am around people and pets that have it and will keep getting infected, I thought I could take this for the rest of my life, but apparently that doesn’t sound like a good Idea, I also could not make up my mind which one was working better. I would also like to pass this on to the public since I can’t see how this will not be an epidemic, I wish someone had told me about this cure 2 years ago, no one is going to talk about this, and the medical community seems to be missing. Maybe when they start getting it themselves.

  4. Thanks for your useful information and thanks to Internet.I’m from China,I’m very confused about the side-effect of Lactoferrin, so I wondering could I use Apolactoferrin? One quick question hope you could kindly reply.
    After the surgery of esophageal cancer, now metastasis of liver, I got lowered resistance to infection(HGB:102g/L PLT 146 10^9/L, nasal drip everyday ), could I use Apolactoferrin to build up my resistance? what the dosage is recommended? Thank you again

  5. I read some posts on phoenix rising where several people report that Lactoferrin helped them with certain symptoms but that it often stopped working and/or that they had huge difficulties of coming off the Lactoferrin.

    So, I wonder: Is it possible that the body stop the production of it’s own Lactoferrin or that some kind of tolerance develops over time. Because then we need to be much more cautious how we dose the Lactoferrin.

    I take about 200-400mg 2x and am on day 2. It had really weird effects for me: First seems to activate my immunse system for 1h, then I get more sinus congestion and brainfog…I am worried to continue taking it because I am afraid that I will have difficulties of coming off of it.

    Another thing 2 people reported: They got intolerant to the lactoferrin over time. I really dont know what to do.

    What are your experiences? Did it stop working for you? How should it be dosed??

    • It is possible that it could reduce the immune system’s production of lactoferrin in the gut. It also modulates the immune system, is it possible that the immune system in the colon get used to supplemental lactoferrin to keep the dysbiosis at bay?

  6. Hi John,

    what about using Lactoferrin for dysbiosis? I know there are other strategies for fighting dysbiosis but just interested: Would taking lactoferrin impact the gut microbiota directly?

    I just read one paper where they found that lactoferrin to some extend reaches the small intestine but that it will not reach the colon. So I wonder if taking lactoferrin will have any use for the colon. For example that it could help repair intestinal barrier in the colon. My main problem is in the colon and not the small intestine I found.

    • Yes, it could harm probiotic biofilm as well and harm probiotic bacteria from the sequestering of iron. That being said, when you have dysbiosis it may be important to use it because many of the opportunistic bacteria are very hardy. I wonder if lactoferrin’s benefit in fighting colon cancer is to improving colon dysbiosis as well.

  7. I’m obese (used to be thin on same diet) can’t lose weight and am constantly hungry. A stool test showed no parasites but an overgrowth of klebsiella pneumoniae. I can’t seem to shift my hunger with gut strategies (herbs, food, etc). It’s been two years with this. I started taking lactoferrin recently and had extreme afternoon fatigue for the first week or two. Could this be die off and should I keep taking it? I eat HUGE meals and am still hungry. I don’t know what to do anymore. I can barely eat anything as I’m allergic (from presumably leaky gut) to most foods. The doctor can’t help, the naturopath can’t help. Excuse this rant, I’m just completely through with these BS gut and health problems.

  8. Will lactoferrin help to get rid of e-coli uti that may have a biofilm?

  9. Hi there! I’ve been on the AOR lactoferrin for two weeks now because it was recommended to me for my low ferritin and hemoglobin. I also have nasal polyps,rhinitis and was just getting over a cold when I started.the first few days I was very tired and my nasal mucous became very thick. I upped it to two pills and the mucous turned yellow and the visible nasal polyp turned a red hue.last two days I went to three pills and now I have blood in the mucous. Could this be caused from the lactoferrin? Should I stop taking it?
    Thank you

    • It maybe, yes it could be a herx reactions as well. I would mention it to your doctor. It could be irritation from the cold.

  10. Hey John,

    I’m male with quite low serum iron and I suspect that I have some bad bacteria in me that is causing my low serum iron. Is it safe for male to take lactoferrin since it contains iron? Would apolactoferrin work for raising my low serum iron and killing the bacteria?



    • Lactoferrin would probably work better. It is what has been proven in studies to raise iron. How is your ferritin levels?

      • My ferritin level is 283 ng/ml and serum iron is 67 µg/dl. So ferritin is right at the top of the range and iron is right at low end. Also my lips look a little blue all the time. I wish I knew what was wrong with me..

  11. In case of IDA, can lactoferrin be taken at same time as iron bisglycinite? Thus binding the iron for better absorption.

  12. Just wondering what dosage you would recommend for persistent UTI. Started off as e-coli infection, but last time was apparently streptococcus viridans. Have been suffering on and off for about three months. Very grateful for any advice

    • D-mannose works very well for E. coli based UTI’s, look into it.

      • I am taking D-mannose (and have been for some time), with no apparent success. Although having said that, the last infection, a couple of weeks ago, was a streptococcus viridans, not e-coli, so presumably it has cleared the e-coli, but left the path clear for something else to step in. This is month 4 now, with no previous history of any urinary infections.

        • D-Mannose only works for UTILITIES caused by e-coli. There are other causes.

          • UTIs not utilities (damn autocorrect)

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

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

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

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

  21. 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?

  22. 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.

  23. Would this help with Sinus infections?

    • Yes, very much so. Lactoferrin would help to eliminate bacterial infections that would cause sinus issues. If it is a viral infection use apolactoferrin.

      • Is apolactoferrin only superior to lactoferrin when it comes to viruses? Would apolactoferrin fight bacterial infections just as well as lactoferrin?

        • Not as well no. Lactoferrin binds to LPS and leaves the iron part of it inside the bacterial cell causing oxidative damage while chelateing iron out of the biofilm on its return to the bloodstream. Apolactoferrin does not contain the bonded iron.

          • John,

            I have a question in regards to you mentioning regular lactoferrin being better at fighting bacteria, while apolactoferrin working better for viruses, and that regular lactoferrin is the kind that keeps iron away from bad bacteria. I had emailed Life Extension with some questions on their Apolactoferrin. In their response, they had mentioned that because apolactoferrin is depleted of iron, that it is better able to bind to excess iron in the body. I know you mentioned in your Fix-Your-Gut Supplement Guide that Life Extension does more research on their supplements than any other supplement company in the United States. So I was curious what your thoughts were on their response stating they believe apolactoferrin is better than regular lactoferrin at binding to excess iron in the body?

          • I thought I stated my opinion in the above article?

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

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

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.