If you want extra protection against colds and flu this season, try one of these seven super supplements
1. Wellmune WGP. According to recent research, the proprietary ingredient Wellmune WGP (beta-glucan from baker’s yeast) has been shown in a double-blind study to prevent colds and flu. Subjects were treated with either 500 mg of Wellmune WGP or a placebo for 90 days. The Wellmune WGP group reported:
- No missed work or school due to colds, compared with 1.4 days missed in the placebo group.
- No incidences of fever, compared with 3.5 incidences in the placebo group.
- An increase in physical energy and emotional well-being, as measured by a clinically validated health questionnaire.
- Wellmune WGP is available in foods, beverages, and supplements.
2. EpiCor. Found in several brands of dietary supplements, EpiCor is a proprietary ingredient derived from baker’s yeast processed by a patented fermentation process, during which nutrients are added. The supplement contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and special nutrients found in cell walls.
EpiCor helps balance the immune system, enabling it to work more accurately and efficiently. Evidence from human, animal, and lab research supports the efficacy of EpiCor:
Colds and Flu: A 12-week study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine tested the supplement on 116 people who hadn’t received any flu vaccination. Compared to placebo, those taking EpiCor had fewer episodes of colds and flu-like symptoms.
Rapid Response: A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that antioxidant levels increased within one hour of taking the supplement. And within two hours, there was a significant rise in the activity of natural killer cells. Previous research shows that the full benefits may be realized after taking EpiCor for two to four weeks.
3. Larch, from the wood of the Western larch tree (Larix occidentalis), is high in arabinogalactan, a polysaccharide that enhances immune response to viral and bacterial infection. In studies, larch helps defend against the common cold, and it also shows promise as a preventive therapy for cancer. Find it in capsules, powders, or liquids, or as a flower essence.
4. Selenium, a mineral found in high concentrations in Brazil nuts and seafood, is a powerful antioxidant that’s been shown to improve immune response.
Studies have found that selenium increases the activity of natural killer cells, and deficiencies have been shown to hamper immune response. Look for it in tablets or capsules, as a single supplement, or in combination with zinc, vitamin E, and/or immune-supportive herbs.
5. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). NAC, from the amino acid L-cysteine, is used by the liver to form glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that’s critical for immune health. NAC is especially important for anyone who has liver problems, since a compromised liver is unable to produce adequate glutathione. Studies have demonstrated NAC’s ability to regulate and enhance immune-system activity. Look for it in capsules and tablets, alone or in combination with antioxidants, herbs, and other immune-supportive ingredients.
6. Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa). Maitake contains polysaccharides called beta-glucan, a powerful antiviral agent and immune system modulator that stimulates the production of T-cells and macrophages (white blood cells) and helps the body fend off colds and flu. Other mushroom extracts including reishi and shiitake are also high in beta-glucan. Recent studies suggest that mushroom extracts inhibit tumor growth and protect against cancer. Look for them in capsules that contain combinations of several varieties of mushrooms, as well as other immune-supportive ingredients, or go traditional and brew a tea from whole mushrooms.
7. Olive leaf extract—from the leaves of the olive tree (Olea europaea)—has been used for many years as a traditional treatment for colds, flu, and infection. It contains a compound called oleuropein, which has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Olive leaf extract may also inhibit replication of HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS. Look for it in capsules or as an extract.
By Vera Tweed
With antibiotic overuse leading to resistant bacteria, it's more important than ever to look for natural substitutes
Caught a bug despite your best efforts? You may not want to immediately reach for an antibiotic. Antibiotics are life-saving drugs, but because of overuse—in agriculture and medicine—their effectiveness is decreasing. This enables harmful bacteria to evolve into resistant superbugs that are difficult to destroy.
This overuse stems from several reasons. In the United States, 80 percent of antibiotics are fed to animals that provide meat and dairy products, largely to promote growth. Antibiotics are also often misused in medicine. Although antibiotics treat only bacteria, many patients demand—and receive—antibiotic prescriptions to treat viral infections such as colds, flu, coughs, and sore throats. Harvard researchers found that doctors prescribed the drugs unnecessarily in 53 percent of visits for sore throats, and in 73 percent of visits for bronchitis.
Reducing Side Effects
Common side effects of antibiotic use include diarrhea and fungal infections in the mouth, digestive tract, or vagina. For one class of antibiotics, fluoroquinolones (such as Cipro, Floxin, and Levaquin), the FDA requires warnings of potentially permanent nerve damage, tendinitis, and tendon rupture.
When antibiotics destroy harmful bacteria, they also kill off beneficial bugs in the digestive tract, leading to diarrhea and other adverse effects. Probiotic supplements can help, according to a review of 82 human trials covering a total of 11,811 people, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Probiotics also enhance immune function to fight infections naturally.
In addition to probiotics, many natural remedies help improve the immune system’s ability to ward off bacterial and viral infections and may also directly kill bugs without damaging beneficial bacteria or causing adverse effects. They include vitamin C, Aged Garlic Extract, turmeric, olive leaf complex, oregano oil, echinacea, and goldenseal, as well as topical tea tree oil for skin infections. Here are some versatile remedies to keep on hand:
Andrographis: Can be taken alone or in combination with other herbs for infections, including colds, flu, and sore throat. A study of 223 adults, published in Phytomedicine, found that andrographis was more than twice as effective as a placebo in reducing the duration of cold and flu symptoms, including cough, runny nose, headache, fever, sore throat, earache, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. It also effectively treats ulcerative colitis.
Elderberry: Blocks bacteria and viruses from invading. An Israeli study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found that 90 percent of people who took Sambucol elderberry extract recovered from the flu in 2–3 days, compared to 6 or more days for those who took a placebo.
Cranberry: In many cases, urinary tract infections can be prevented with 500 mg daily of Cran-Max, a proprietary cranberry extract, or 1,000 mg daily when symptoms first appear, according to research involving more than 600 women. Studies were published in The Gynaecologist’s and Obstetrician’s Journaland other journals.
STAY WELL WITH CRANBERRIES
What holiday meal would be complete without cranberry sauce? But there’s plenty more reason than tradition to add a healthy dose of these little gems to your table. Cranberries possess anticancer and antibacterial properties, and they inhibit the growth of common pathogens and microbes. They’re also well-known for their usefulness in the treatment of urinary tract infections. (See “Antibiotic Alternatives,” above). And studies presented at the 223rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society show that cranberries contain some of the most potent antioxidants of any common fruit, including cold-busting vitamin C. Cranberry is also available in capsules and liquid concentrates.
This jazzed up version of traditional cranberry sauce is sweetened with coconut nectar instead of sugar. Plus, the cranberries in this recipe are raw, a way they’re rarely eaten. And the orange provides just an extra hint of sweetness. —Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
CLICK HERE FOR THE FRESHEST RAW CRANBERRY SAUCE RECIPE PICTURED RIGHT.
OUR PRODUCT PICKS
BARLEAN'S Olive Leaf is made with freshly picked leaves that are immediately fresh-pressed, ensuring maximum potency and immune support.
BRICKER LABS ResistAid is a safe, natural larch tree extract, shown in clinical trials to enhance the body's ability to fend off the cold virus.
IMMUNE HEALTH BASICS Wellmune WGP has been shown to strengthen key immune responses, as well as help to maintain energy and mental clarity.
MUSHROOM WISDOM Maitake D-Fraction Pro 4X is a concentrated tincture standardized to contain 1,800 mg of active maitake beta-glucans (D-Fraction) per bottle.
RENEW LIFE Ultimate Flora Advanced Immunity combines EpiCor and larch with 10 billion probiotic cultures, all known to offer powerful immune protection.