immune system

  • The strongest case for the use of nutritional supplements can be made, even to the typically skeptical mainstream medical community, when traditional pharmaceuticals have shown to be of limited efficacy. In such cases, the use of nutraceuticals as both preventive and therapeutic agents becomes very compelling. The need to consider and employ natural bioactive compounds is particularly strong in the field of infectious diseases.

    Infectious diseases remain a significant public health threat in the U.S. and throughout the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that five to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu, more than 200,000 are hospitalized and about 36,000 die on average from flu complications every year. This year the ineffectiveness of the flu vaccine was associated with an even more severe flu season. Furthermore, the pandemic threat from mutating influenza viruses such as the H5N1 virus, better known as “avian flu” or “bird flu,” is particularly worrisome given that the virus strain which caused human illness and death in Asia was found to be resistant to two antiviral medications most commonly used to treat influenza infections. Likewise, there is currently no specific treatment for the West Nile virus, although cases were reported in 43 states last year. Another health risk relates to opportunistic and often-drug-resistant infections. Such infections tend to occur at health care facilities and among immunocomprised patients but also occasionally affect healthy patients. (As was the case with “community-associated MRSA” that made the headlines in 2007.) So in this era of continued emergence of new or increasingly common infectious agents, not to mention the increasing threat of bio-terrorism in which infectious agents could be used as weapons, natural compounds that have the potential to modify the body’s response to acute infection must be considered.

    While there are plenty of nutritional supplements claiming immune boosting properties, very few compounds have undergone rigorous research and rarely are products studied in response to actual infectious diseases. Furthermore, studies on the most popular immune ingredients, such as vitamin C, ginseng or echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold, have produced mixed results. Finally, the mechanism of action of most of the ingredients is still unclear, making it difficult to infer their efficacy for conditions more serious than the common cold.

    One exceptional ingredient in this respect is AHCC (an acronym for Active Hexose Correlated Compound), a novel bionutraceutical developed in Japan that has been extensively studied and used as a countermeasure to infectious disease. Studies on the effects of AHCC on influenza, avian flu, West Nile virus, MRSA and opportunistic infections make it one of the most researched natural compounds for stimulating the immune response to viruses and infections. Manufactured using a proprietary process that entails enzymatic fermentation of hybridized subspecies of cultivated medicinal mushrooms, AHCC is rich in oligosaccharides (74 percent by dry weight). While most medicinal mushroom extracts tend to contain mostly beta-glucans, AHCC is rich with alpha-glucans (a different type of a complex sugar molecule) which have a low molecular weight of under 5,000 Daltons (as compared to >200,000 for most other well-known immune support ingredients).

    The body of research supporting the immuno-modulating properties of AHCC is vast and growing. Supported by over 80 studies, AHCC has been extensively studied by researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the affiliated Faulkner Hospital, Yale University School of Medicine, Drexel University Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, and SUNY Binghamton’s Department of Biological Sciences, among many others.

    In addition to drawing significant interest in the academic community, AHCC has gained an impressive level of adoption in the medical community. Over 700 hospitals and medical clinics throughout Asia prescribe AHCC to patients as part of an immune enhancement maintenance regimen. Hundreds of doctors throughout the world have also used AHCC as an adjunct alternative therapy for cancer, hepatitis C and other chronic conditions. Consequently, AHCC has become the number one selling specialty immune supplement in Japan and has gained broad acceptance in the U.S., where it is available in most health food stores nationwide.

    Both human and animal studies have pointed to AHCC’s ability to enhance the activity of natural killer cells (“NK cells”). These cells provide a crucial first defense for the body, launching a rapid attack while the other cells of the immune system are still mobilizing. Researchers believe that although the ability of NK cells to destroy tumors and virus-infected cells is present at birth, NK cells have to be activated. Thus, agents that stimulate NK cell activity might be expected to enhance the control of tumors and virus replication.

    Activated NK cells are believed to help the body through two modes of action. First, they promptly secrete cytokines— chemical messenger proteins that “awaken the artillery” of the body’s immune system. Second, NK cells secrete substances that directly induce the destruction of tumors and virus-infected cells.

    It has also been shown in numerous studies that NK cells play a significant role in controlling virus infections, and the correlation between NK cell activity and the frequency of the common cold has been well established. So the clinical evidence that AHCC increases NK cell activity and the fact that NK cell activity helps the immune system fight viral infections suggests that AHCC is a potential agent to boost the NK cell response to viral infections. However, while this inference is compelling, direct research on the effect of AHCC on viral infections is required. And fortunately such research exists. AHCC has been the subject of several studies, which investigated its potential as a countermeasure to various infectious diseases, including the H1N1 influenza (flu) virus, the H5N1 avian influenza (bird flu) virus, West Nile virus, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and several other opportunistic infections (Klebsiella pneumoniae, Candida albicans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa).

    The challenge of researching infectious diseases is there are no ethical, practical or reliable means of evaluating the human response to infectious agents, forcing researchers to rely on animal models. Therefore, the research strategy for AHCC has been to show efficacy in infectious diseases using animal models while conducting human clinical trials to demonstrate its ability to stimulate NK cell activity in immune compromised patients.

    Two published peer-reviewed human clinical studies (on 269 and 40 subjects respectively) evaluating advanced liver cancer showed extended survival, lower recurrence and improved quality of life among patients taking AHCC. Several other studies demonstrated the ability of AHCC to significantly increase NK cell activity in immune compromised patients.

    While these clinical studies support the efficacy of AHCC in humans, animal studies have been used to examine whether AHCC can be effective in fighting specific viruses and explore the mechanism or mechanisms for the observed effects. The most recent study published in the prestigious Journal of Nutrition examined the effect of AHCC on the influenza (flu) virus. The research found that mice supplemented with AHCC showed increased survival and maintained body weight during the infection compared to controls (indicative of a less severe infection). Supplementation with AHCC also resulted in enhanced NK cell activity in the lungs and spleen and rapid virus clearance from lungs. So the data clearly suggested that AHCC supplementation enhanced NK cell activity in response to influenza infection, which was associated with a decrease in lung virus titers, a less severe infection and increased survival.

    Another study looked at the effect of AHCC supplementation against infection with H5N1 avian influenza virus (bird flu). Mice were infected with 100 times the 50 percent lethal dose of the H5N1 influenza virus. The control mice that did not receive AHCC demonstrated 100 percent mortality at 12 days post-infection. In contrast, the group that was fed AHCC prior to infection demonstrated a 30 percent survival through 28 days post-infection. In a second study utilizing the same protocol, the effects of AHCC supplementation alone were compared to H5N1 vaccination (the flu vaccine) alone as well as the combination of AHCC supplementation and the flu vaccine administered together. Vaccination alone resulted in approximately 80 percent survival, while AHCC supplementation combined with vaccination resulted in 100 percent survival. This data suggests while AHCC supplementation alone offers some protection against mortality associated with highly-virulent avian influenza virus infection in mice, supplementation with AHCC may be even more effective as an addition to the flu vaccine.

    In another study, mice infected with a lethal dose of West Nile virus showed that mice supplemented with AHCC prior to the infection exhibited an increase in survival and a decrease in virus load in the blood at four days post-infection.

    Looking at “opportunistic” or hospital-acquired infections, the effects of AHCC supplementation on the resistance to Klebsiella pneumoniae (principally associated with bacterial pneumonia and urinary tract infections) was studied in both infected and stressinduced mice. Again, the AHCC-supplemented mice demonstrated increased survival, increased mean time until death, decreased susceptibility to infection and increased bacterial clearance from the blood. Studies on other types of opportunistic infections including methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Candida albicans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa provided similar results: AHCC overwhelmingly increased survival in immune compromised mice in response to infectious challenge.

    Given the abundance of preliminary positive results across different infections, AHCC supplementation demonstrates valuable and clinically-relevant potential as an immune-enhancing compound. Furthermore, since AHCC supplementation was shown in one study to be even more beneficial when used in conjunction with the flu vaccine, studies are underway to further evaluate the use of AHCC as a preventive during flu season. Finally, AHCC boasts a strong safety profile supported by a Phase I study conducted at Harvard, a 20-year history of use in Japan, its adoption by over 700 clinics and use by an estimated 70,000 people worldwide (including 20,000 in the U.S.). Thus, there is a strong case to be made for adding AHCC to a daily supplement regimen to support the body’s immune system, not only during the apparent times of increased infectious threat such as the flu season, but also all year long.

    Dr. Fred Pescatore, M.D., MPH, is the Medical Director of Partners in Integrative Medicine and an author of several best-selling books on health and nutrition.

    Barry Ritz, Ph.D. is the Professor of Bioscience and Biotechnology at Drexel University, whose paper on AHCC and influenza was recently published in the Journal of Nutrition.

  • Solving the Puzzle of Maximizing the Immune System

    I have conquered multiple personal cancers. I am here and I am healthy. I have been on this challenging health journey a few times, forging my own path to maximize my immune system. It IS possible to address cancer without seriously damaging an already challenged immune system.

    Cancer is not who we are. It is a transitory episode in our lives, a health challenge. It comes, it can go and it may come again.

    Two very important questions are: "How do we maximize our immune system's abilities so we can live quality healthy lives, no matter how many times cancer appears?"

    "How do we remove the interferences from our bodies, so our cells can communicate and our bodies can continually gently detoxify and regenerate?"

    That is the puzzle to solve: to be healthier living with—and beyond—cancer.

    "Holistic Healthier Approaches to Cancer," is the focus of my consulting practice. With referrals around the world from doctors, I focus on the basics first...the cause, not the symptom. If you Band-Aid the symptom, it will exhibit elsewhere. We must address cause.

    Even though they may have value, no drug, no doctor and no surgery is smarter than your own body in knowing how to be healthy, when given the support it needs.

    Detoxification and addressing the root cause pathways of cancer is critical. The objective is to maximize your body's ability to activate its healing mechanisms. Those mechanisms are on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. They are straightforward for you to employ on your behalf. You just need to know what they are.

    FIRST, REMEMBER TO DETOXIFY DAILY AND GENTLY. Although research varies and percentages are changing, the general belief is that environmental toxins are contributing significantly to cancer. These toxins impede the body's abilities to be healthier by interfering in the cellular communications and detoxification pathways. Be careful, do not overdo this puzzle piece. Too much detoxification, too quickly, stresses the liver's ability to cleanse the body. We want to support the liver and don't want toxins reabsorbed rather than eliminated. I detoxify while I sleep, every night.

    It is my passion to help guide people through the process of achieving a healthier life, through all kinds of challenges. I've provided some of the cornerstones to support you in this remarkable healing and immune system journey. It is important to realize that every step is a step forward. Perfection does not exist. There will always be more to know. You're here; you're reading now; you're learning. Take one step at a time and trust by acting on this information, you are improving your immune system.

    Now activate your immune system: Close your eyes and hug yourself. Take a deep slow breath. Hum as you exhale (because the internal vibration of sound is physically beneficial). Envision the health you want as if it exists right now. Be grateful for that health and feel the relaxation as the stress leaves your body.

    Smile.

    SECOND, I OFTEN RECOMMEND SPECIFIC GENOMIC TESTING. Genetic predispositions do not have to express, or manifest. With cancer, and health in general, knowledge of our personal genetic blueprint allows us to support our immune systems by mitigating our genetic deficiencies.

    THIRD, A CORNERSTONE PUZZLE PIECE IS TO TRULY EMBRACE...to feel on every level, that Cancer is NOT a death sentence. CANCER IS A WAKE-UP CALL TO LIVE YOUR LIFE IN HEALTHIER WAYS! When you have the tools, the puzzle pieces, you can construct your healthier life.

    FOURTH, BREATHE—DEEPLY AND SLOWLY. Breathe in slowly to a count of six or eight...hold it equally...and breathe out slowly. Stress is so harmful to the immune system, and breathing is the natural antidote.

    Make it a habit. Every time you answer the phone, every time you go to the bathroom, every time you stop at a stoplight...BREATHE.

    Gift yourself this priceless relaxation and oxygenation tool. It costs nothing but mindfulness. Drop your shoulders, take another breath. Feel how good that feels. Mother Nature is working on your behalf and you only have to breathe.

    FIFTH, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Determine what your objectives are and where your compromises lie. You must be congruent with the choices you make and the path you follow. The mind and body must work together or else every step you take will be undermined by your own inconsistency.

    SIXTH, BE A CRITICAL THINKER. If you have estrogen positive breast cancer, how can you achieve a healthier estrogen ratio, without taking drugs that have serious side effects? I did it in healthy ways, without drugs. I also had a basil cell skin cancer. After my three day protocol, and no surgery, it disappeared, as verified by the department head MD at UCSF dermatology surgery. One of my prostate cancer clients saw his markers fall to half in less than six weeks. It is important to believe in the ability of the body to heal, when the interferences are removed and given the support.

  • In mid-2012, Nestlé Health Science acquired a stake in Accera®, the U.S. maker of Axona®, a medical food targeted at people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Aside from the fact that the purchase shows that Nestlé is placing a strategic bet on the future direction of medical food demand, this acquisition also is interesting for its potential validation of a tropical oil that alternately has been damned and praised for its role in health: coconut oil.

    On the one hand, there are those who still maintain that coconut oil, a source of more saturated fat than butter, lard or beef tallow, is the devil incarnate for brain and heart health. On the other hand, current science is in the process of validating the high regard that the coconut oil enjoys in the Ayurvedic and Chinese traditions of healing.

    Indeed, coconut oil bears a striking overlap in its metabolic implications, in this case for Alzheimer’s disease, with medical foods designed to provide the brain alternate fuel sources. A nice introduction to this topic is Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure? by Mary Newport, MD.

    The scientific backtracking regarding coconut oil recently was put in a nutshell in a New York Times interview of Thomas Brenna, a professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University.1 Dr. Brenna observed that coconut oil’s bad reputation for cardiovascular health rested mostly on partially hydrogenated coconut oil, oil designed specifically to raise cholesterol levels in the rabbits being used in experiments. Virgin coconut oil differs dramatically in a large number of ways from the trans-fat laden partially hydrogenated item. Even the health dangers of the saturated aspect of coconut oil currently are being debated. As Dr. Brenna remarks in the interview, “I think we in the nutrition field are beginning to say that saturated fats are not so bad, and the evidence that said they were is not so strong.”

    Coconut Oil—A “Good” Saturated Fat
    Coconut oil is saturated (it is solid up to 76° F), consisting of 86.5 percent saturated fatty acids and 5.8 percent monounsaturated fatty acids.2 Lauric acid makes up approximately 46 percent of coconut oil and generally is considered to be the villain in terms of serum cholesterol. However, in clinical trials, the effects of dietary supplementation with coconut oil usually have been found to be either no effect or a small increase in LDL cholesterol and a significant increase in HDL cholesterol, meaning that the ratio—and cardiovascular risk—improves with supplementation.3,4

    Moreover, extra virgin coconut oil consists mostly of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), with 50 percent being lauric acid. Medium-chain fatty acids have been used for many years for special health purposes. They have attracted attention as part of a healthful diet because they are absorbed and transported directly into the liver via the portal vein and thereafter metabolized rapidly by beta-oxidation, thus increasing diet-induced thermogenesis.5

    One derivative of coconut MCFA is medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which is 75 percent caprylic and 25 percent capric acids, fatty acids very similar to lauric acid and present in virgin coconut oil in smaller amounts. MCT oil often is found in the hospital nutrient mixtures for bedridden patients who are dependent upon intravenous nutrition. These fats were developed in part because they do not require the action of bile for digestion, but rather are absorbed directly through the walls of the small intestine and transported to the liver to be used immediately as fuel.

    The special characteristics of coconut MCFA mean that the body prefers to burn it for fuel rather than to store it. You might say that the body treats coconut fatty acids more like it does carbohydrates, but without getting involved with insulin. Scientists know this because of experience with MCT oils. In my book Anti-Fat Nutrients (revised 4th edition, Basic Media), I discuss MCT oil at length. In seriously catabolic patients, MCT oil was found to help prevent the body from depleting lean and muscle tissues. Again, MCT fatty acids are not readily stored as body fat, but rather they are preferentially burned in the mitochondria of the cells to provide energy.6 For some athletes and bodybuilders, this quality has proved useful since excess training depletes the glycogen stores of the muscles, and continued training after that point can only take place partially through the break down of muscle protein for fuel.7 Coconut oil medium-chain fatty acids have properties similar to those of MCT oil, but not as pronounced.

    Does this mean that coconut oil can help dieters? Yes, as long as there are not too many expectations. Indeed, the nutrition author Ray Peat, PhD, has remarked that in the 1940s farmers attempted to use coconut oil for fattening their animals, but they found that it made them lean, active and hungry instead! The fatty acids found in coconut seem to promote the burning of fat for fuel and, as already noted, have a pronounced thermogenic effect. However, the thermogenic and fat-burning qualities of medium-chain fatty acids seem to be more significant for healthy subjects of normal weight and for those moderately overweight than for those who are clinically obese (fortunately, a category that excludes most of us). Moreover, medium-chain fatty acids serve to protect the body’s protein in the lean tissues during the use of low calorie and low carbohydrate diets.8

    Immune and Digestive Benefits
    Coconut oil has many other benefits. Two names are closely associated with the research in this area. These are Jon J. Kabara, PhD, one of the primary researchers into the benefits of lauric acid, and Mary G. Enig, PhD, the great researcher in the area of fats and one of the first (literally decades before the mainstream medical researchers) to point out the health dangers of trans-fatty acids.

    Dr. Enig was the keynote speaker in 2001 at the 36th Annual Conference of the Asian Pacific Coconut Community. There she gave her talk on the benefits of the coconut as a functional food. She noted that approximately 50 percent of the fatty acids in coconut fat are lauric acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human body. Monolaurin is a monoglyceride used by the human metabolism to destroy lipid-coated (that is, fat-coated) viruses and a number of other undesirable organisms.

    Approximately 6–7 percent of the fatty acids in coconut fat are capric acid. Dr. Enig points out that capric acid is another medium-chain fatty acid that has a similar beneficial function when it is formed into monocaprin in the human or animal body. Monocaprin has beneficial effects similar to those found with monolaurin.

    The work of Dr. Jon Kabara and others shows that coconut oil components exert their health benefits in a way that is very safe to humans. In general, it is reported that the fatty acids and monoglycerides produce their inactivating effects by destabilizing the membrane that surrounds pathogens, for instance, by causing the disintegration of the virus envelope. Despite such sometimes quite potent actions against unwanted microbes, there is no evidence of any negative effect on probiotic organisms in the gastrointestinal tract.

    In his accessible, yet thoroughly researched book, The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil (HealthWise), author Bruce Fife, ND, ranges across a number of health topics for which coconut oils has proven to be effective. He notes that coconut oil is so stable that it helps to preserve other oils, thereby reducing antioxidant requirements. Populations that eat large amounts of coconut and coconut products, such as the oil, are characterized by low rates of heart disease. Lauric acid and other medium-chain fatty acids are found in mother’s milk, where among other things, they improve the uptake by the baby of nutrients such as amino acids, calcium and magnesium. Similar effects upon nutrient assimilation have been found in the very ill and in the elderly. Moreover, these health benefits do not even take into account the long accepted uses of coconut oil to nourish the skin and the hair.

    Benefits for Brain Health?
    Let’s return to Nestlé Health Science acquired a stake in Accera, the U.S. maker of Axona, a medical food targeted at people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. The basic argument for this medicinal food is that in Alzheimer’s disease, the brain is starved for energy because it has a reduced ability to metabolize glucose. Reduced energy means reduced levels of cognition and memory. Fortunately, there is an alternative to glucose known as ketone bodies. Axona is a proprietary formulation of caprylic triglyceride that is converted by the liver into ketone bodies.

    Recall that coconut oil is a good source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), the fatty acids that are converted in the liver to ketones. Ketones can provide energy to cells without the need for insulin. This is important for several reasons, not the least being that Alzheimer’s is related to insulin resistance and the attempt to get glucose to the brain with a high carbohydrate diet is counterproductive.9 Moreover, access to ketones may more generally promote neurologic health—several neurologic conditions have shown promising results with ketogenic diets. Ketogenic diets may help treat difficult cases of epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease as well as other neurological disorders, indeed perhaps improve cognition and health in general.

    The use of coconut oil with the conditions above at this point is promising, but hardly proven. Moreover, there are not yet much in the way of set rules or recommendations. Dr. Newport was giving her husband as much as 11 tablespoonsful per day, with four to eight tablespoonsful seeming to be a regular recommendation. At 115 calories per tablespoon, a coconut oil supplemented diet should not otherwise continue to be the standard American diet built upon a foundation of refined carbohydrates. Those wanting to add serious amounts of coconut oil to their everyday diets, as opposed to merely switching to it as a cooking oil, might find it useful to explore high protein/low carbohydrate options more generally. The chief warning to those who would try such diets is that Paleolithic-type diets need to include plenty of vegetables and reasonable amounts of whole fruit (avoiding fruit juice).

    Summing Up
    In his book, Bruce Fife asks the rhetorical questions, “If there was [sic] an oil you could use for your daily cooking needs that helped protect you from heart disease...other degenerative conditions, improved your digestion, strengthened your immune system, protected you from infectious diseases, and helped you lose excess weight, would you be interested?” Surely this is a good question. Aside from the record of traditional use, numerous research papers and United States Patents argue for the health-promoting benefits of coconut oil. Now that organic coconut oil/extra virgin coconut oil is readily available in health food stores, perhaps it is time for health-conscious shoppers to give it a try.

    References

    1. Melissa Clark, “Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World.” New York Times March 1, 2011.
    2. “Nutrient database, Release 24” (http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/) . United States Department of Agriculture. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov
    3. Assunção ML, Ferreira HS, dos Santos AF, Cabral CR Jr, Florêncio TM. Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids. 2009 Jul;44(7):593-601.
    4. Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB. Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 May;77(5):1146-55.
    5. Aoyama T, Nosaka N, Kasai M. Research on the nutritional characteristics of medium-chain fatty acids. J Med Invest. 2007 Aug;54(3-4):385-8.
    6. Babayan VK. Medium chain triglycerides and structured lipids. Lipids 1987 Jun;22(6):417-20.
    7. Nosaka N, Suzuki Y, Nagatoishi A, Kasai M, Wu J, Taguchi M. Effect of ingestion of medium-chain triacylglycerols on moderate-and high-intensity exercise in recreational athletes. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2009 Apr;55(2):120-5.
    8. Dias VC, et al. Effects of medium-chain triglyceride feeding on energy balance in adult humans. Metabolism 1990;39:887-891.
    9. Seneff S, Wainwright G, Mascitelli L. Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: the detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet. Eur J Intern Med. 2011 Apr;22(2):134-40.
  • Garlic's potential as a remedy to prevent and combat a wide range of diseases has been lauded and practiced for thousands of years. By the 21st century medicine has confirmed many of the medicinal benefits of garlic. Among the wide range of remedial and preventive properties, garlic has shown the ability to boost immunity. Other effects that are linked in some ways to immunological mechanisms including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, cancer, and overcoming fatigue.

    The pungent taste of garlic is not to everyone's liking, as its odor may remain on the breath and skin for days; moreover, large quantities of ingested garlic, potentially needed to boost immunity may cause gastrointestinal disturbances. The supplement Aged Garlic ExtractTM (Kyolic® AGETM) that is odorless, has become a most popular preparation that provides the benefits of garlic, including boosting immunity, without the unpleasant side effects. Moreover, its efficacy and reliable standing as the preferred garlic formulation for research on the health benefits of garlic, has yielded over 700 peer reviewed research publications in scientific and medical journals.

    Aged Garlic Extract
    The manufacturing of AGE, by Wakunaga of America, consists of harvesting organically grown garlic, and carrying out a procedure of extraction and aging, at room temperature, for 20 months The process converts harsh volatile compounds such as allicin to stable substances, thereby increasing antioxidant levels in AGE above levels found in fresh garlic.

    Among the many components in AGE the major ones are organosulfur antioxidants, largely water soluble, and highly bioavailable including S-Allyl cysteine and S-Allyl mercaptocysteine. Also present are lipid soluble organosulfur compounds, carbohydrates, including fructans, which are immuo-boosters, micronutrients such as selenium and other antioxidants such as fructosyl arginine and alixin. The high antioxidant level in AGE prevent the damage induced by free radicals that are generated in metabolism and enhanced by environmental factors, such as radiation of different types including UV light from the sun and UV machines. Free radical damage plays a role in inflammation, and various pathological conditions including heart disease, dementia and cancer, so that the inhibition of free radicals by AGE is part of its action in helping prevent these pathological conditions, in part by boosting immunity.

    Our Immune System
    A healthy immune system is the secret to good health, protecting against infectious bacteria, viruses, fungi and helping block the development of cancer. A weak immune system exposes us to the damaging effects of infectious bacteria and viruses around us, from direct contact, exposure to a cough or a sneeze, from contaminated food and a wide range of sources that trigger serious illnesses, that may lead to death.

    The immune system is complex and multilayered. Inflammation is one of the first responses of the immune system to infection and involves the release of substances called prostaglandins and leukotrienes that attract white blood cells (leukocytes) and interferons, that have anti-viral effects.

    Among the white cells, the leukocytes there exist B and T lymphocytes. There are subtypes of T cells: killer T cell that kill cells infected with pathogens and helper T cell that regulate the immune response. Killer T cells kill cells that are infected with viruses (and other pathogens), or are otherwise damaged or dysfunctional. Helper T cells regulate the immune responses directing other cells to perform various tasks. Natural killer cell (NK) have in their power to kill tumor cells. Another group of lymphocytes are ãä-T cells that share the characteristics of helper T cells, killer T cells and NK cells.

    AGE Enhances Immunity
    Aged Garlic Extract has been shown in preclinical and clinical studies to enhance the immune response, mitigate infectious diseases, and kill cancer cells. AGE intake has been shown to increase the phagocytic (cell-killing) activity of macrophages, the activity of the T lymphocytes and increase the number and action of natural killer cells (NK) and antitumor action; AGE also was found to inhibit the allergy-causing histamine release and have anti-inflammatory effects, suppressing prostaglandins and enhancing interferon.

    AGE Increases NK Activity
    In a random double-blind clinical trial, Ishikawa and colleagues found that AGE given to patients with colorectal, liver or pancreatic cancer resulted in a significant increase in the number and activity of the NK cells, killing cancer cells.

    Advanced-cancer patients with a decline in immune functions and quality of life, with inoperable colorectal, liver, or pancreatic cancer were recruited for the study. In a randomized six month double-blind trial, AGE was given to one group and a placebo to another. The patients consisted of 42 with liver cancer (84 percent), seven patients with pancreatic cancer (14 percent), and one patient with colon cancer (two percent). The study showed that both the number of NK cells and the NK cell activity increased significantly in the AGE group; showing that the administration of AGE to patients with advanced cancer of the digestive system has the potential to improve the anti-tumor NK cell activity.

    AIDS patients show lower levels of NK cells. Abdullah and colleagues showed that a six week intake of AGE at 1800 mg/day increased the levels of NK cells to that of healthy individuals; Helper T cells were also increased and patients showed an improvement of several pathological conditions, including herpes virus infection, yeast infections and diarrhea; Comparing the efficacy of AGE to that of fresh garlic, investigators found that AGE was more effective as an immune-stimulator than fresh garlic; NK activity was increased by 160 percent with the intake of AGE capsules compared with an increase of 140 percent in patients taking the fresh garlic preparation.

    AGE Helps Reduce Colds And Flu
    A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study recruited 120 healthy subjects (60 per group between ages of 21 and 50) and evaluated the effect of AGE supplementation (2.56 g/d) on the proliferation of immune cells and cold and flu symptoms.

    After 45 days of intake of an encapsulated Aged Garlic Extract, NK and £^£_-T cells rose in number, compared to placebo. Following 90 days of supplementation, diary entries of illness showed that though the incidence of colds and flu, were not statistically different, the group consuming Aged Garlic Extract showed a reduced severity of both colds and flu noted by a reduction in the number of reported symptoms (21 percent fewer) and by a reduction in the number of days (61 percent fewer), and incidences (58 percent fewer) where the subjects¡¦ function was sub optimal.

    The investigators concluded that supplementation of the diet with AGE may enhance immune cell function and potentially reduce inflammation, resulting in a reduced severity of colds and flu.

    AGE Blocks Ultraviolet-Induced Immunosuppression.
    Studies on human volunteers in Australia found that exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) causes immunosuppression resulting in an increase skin cancer frequency. There was a gender difference. UV doses that caused immunosuppression in men were three times lower than those causing immunosuppression in women. The investigators concluded that this phenomenon might underlie the higher incidence of skin cancer and mortality observed in the male population.

    In a preclinical study, where the immune response as measured by contact hypersensitivity, Reeve and colleagues found that immunosuppression of 58 percent induced by a moderate exposure to UVB radiation was reduced to 19 percent by a diet containing AGE, at 4 percent of the diet. The preclinical studies suggest that AGE may help protect humans against immunosuppression induced by exposure to UV, and therefore have a potential to reduce the risk of UV induced skin cancer, for example by lengthy exposures to the sun.

    AGE Reduces Inflammatory Prostaglandins
    Oxidative damage by free radicals and immune-inflammatory activation are considered important factors in the development of cancer, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. Prostaglandins are substances associated with inflammation in that the release of local pro-inflammatory prostaglandins takes place, accompanied by the destruction of tissue. Rahman and colleagues have shown that dietary supplementation with AGE for 14 days reduced the plasma and urine levels of prostaglandin 8-iso-PGF (2 alpha) by 29 and 37 percent, respectively in nonsmokers and by 35 and 48 percent, respectively in smokers.

    By stopping the intake of AGE, they found that in both groups, smokers and non smokers, the plasma and urine concentrations of prostaglandins reversed to values that were no different from those before ingestion of AGE, within fourteen days after cessation of the dietary supplementation. The study shows that a continuous intake of AGE is required to maintain the reduced levels of inflammatory prostaglandins.

    The Bottom Line
    Aged Garlic Extract is a powerful wide ranging health supplement that plays a role in helping enhance immunity and thus helping protect against diseases and conditions that involve inflammation and weakening of the immune system; such conditions have been reported to be associated with cancer development, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disease as well as aging. In over 700 medical and scientific studies in both preclinical and clinical studies, AGE has shown its capacity to help reduce disease and maintain health.

    References
    1. Nantz MP, Rowe CA, Muller CE et al Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and Υδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. J Nutr. 2012; 31:337—44.
    2. Borek C. Dietary antioxidants and human cancer. Integr Cancer Ther. 2004;3:333—41.
    3. Reeve VE1, Bosnic M, Rozinova E, Boehm-Wilcox C. A garlic extract protects from ultraviolet B (280¡V320 nm) radiation-induced suppression of contact hypersensitivity. Photochem Photobiol. 1993;58:813—7.
    4. Dillon SA, Lowe GM, Billington D, Rahman K. Dietary supplementation with aged garlic extract reduces plasma and urine concentrations of 8-iso-prostaglandin F(2 alpha) in smoking and nonsmoking men and women. J Nutr. 2002 ;132:168—71.
    5. Ishikawa H, Saeki T, Otani T, Suzuki T, Shimozuma K, Nishino H, Fukuda S, Morimoto K. Aged garlic extract prevents a decline of NK cell number and activity in patients with advanced cancer. J Nutr. 2006;136:816S—820S
    6. Abdullah TH, Kirkpatrick DV, Carter J. Enhancement of natural killer activity in AIDS with garlic. J Oncology. 1989;21:52—3.
  • Written by Suzanne M. Diamond, M.Sc.

    Four humble herbs with an impressive history for helping people to improve their health and overcome disease include burdock root (Arctium lappa L.), sheep sorrel herb (Rumex acetosella L.), Indian rhubarb root (Rheum officinale L.) and slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra Muhl.). A traditional herbal formulation made with these four herbs is gaining recognition as a good remedy for treating a wide range of health problems. The below information covers some of the impressive research on these four herbs and helps to shed light on how this synergist blend can afford so many profound health benefits.

    BURDOCK ROOT(Arctium lappa L.) Not far from your doorstep, if you look, you can usually find the soft green leaves of burdock, common in most neighborhoods— and based on much scientific and historical data, the root of this plant can dramatically enhance your health by boosting your immune system, improving digestion and thwarting cancer in many different ways. Regularly incorporating burdock root in your daily regime may even be able to increase your lifespan based on anti-aging results found with animals. There are many other documented and accepted health benefits of regularly drinking burdock root tea based on the German Pharmacopoeia, including the relief of gastrointestinal complaints and bone and joint conditions.

    Burdock root, also known as gobo or Poor-man’s potatoes, is an important food in Japan known for its many healing properties. Burdock root can safely be eaten as a root vegetable and is popularly eaten by Japanese people and sushi lovers of all nationalities. When grown in loamy soil, the root grows into a very long, creamy colored tap root similar in appearance to a carrot but much longer. It can grow deeper than most root veggies and is known as a good source of trace elements and minerals accessed from deeper soil layers. Unlike carrots and potatoes, burdock root does not contain starch it contains complex carbohydrates called fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) including 27–45 percent inulin. When people eat starchy roots, this causes a sharp rise in blood sugar and blood insulin levels. But burdock root provides the body with soluble fibers that do not affect blood sugar or blood insulin levels. This makes burdock root and FOS particularly beneficial for diabetics. FOS and inulin have many scientifically documented health benefits including acting as a beneficial prebiotic by feeding beneficial intestinal microflora (BIM) while also eliminating potential gut pathogens, optimizing colonic pH, boosting bone strength through increasing calcium and mineral absorption from food, supporting serum enterolactone and enterodiol concentrations, helping to control blood sugar levels and reducing cholesterol. Other foods that contain inulin include chicory root, onions, Jerusalem artichokes and bananas.

    According to Bengmark (2005), researching out of the Institute of Hepatology, University College, London Medical School, U.K., inulin has prebiotic qualities and can affect intestinal immune cells and potentially repair the gut wall and thereby improve overall immune function. Several recent scientific studies have documented significant immune-enhancing effects of inulin and oligofructose.

    Taking herbal formulas that contains burdock root, rich in natural oligofructose and inulin, have been found to afford many digestive benefits and favorable results have been shown with a number of digestive disorders according to Tamayo and colleagues (2000).

    SHEEP SORREL (Rumex acetosella L.) Sheep sorrel is a common herb found abundantly at roadsides and is otherwise known as sour grass because of its tart leaves. The leaves are popularly used in herbal teas for rejuvenating health and cleansing toxins from the body. Sheep sorrel has powerful phytoestrogen activity (phytoestrogen means plant-estrogen) based on in vitro studies conducted by U.S. hormone researcher, Dr. David Zava in 1998. Sheep sorrel came in tenth out of 150 herbs tested for phytoestrogen activity; the list was headed by soy beans, licorice root and red clover herb, all legumes wellknown for their phytoestrogen activity.

    Sheep sorrel is an important component of ESSIAC® tea and products, together with three other herbs, burdock root, slippery elm bark and Indian rhubarb root. Early research on sheep sorrel herb by famed Canadian nurse Rene M. Caisse and R.O. Fisher, M.D., in Ontario in the 1920s and 30s, found that sheep sorrel liquid extract given to mice with artificially induced tumors caused cancerous tumors to markedly regress and disappear. The other herbs in ESSIAC were said to help with cleansing and eliminating the dead cancer cells and other toxins from the system. Nurse Rene Caisse also reputedly had success with treating cancer patients with ESSIAC together with sheep sorrel extract—including one case cured and two cases improved accepted by a Cancer Commission set up by the Canadian Government in the 1939. There are many more anecdotal reports and some well documented cases of success with ESSIAC for dramatically improving people’s health very quickly.

    Human clinical studies with other phytoestrogen-rich foods and herbs, such as flaxseed and red clover, have also produced profound anti-cancer results. For instance, clinical studies with breast cancer patients given muffins containing 50 grams of ground flaxseed daily (flaxseed contains phytoestrogens called lignans in its seed coat) versus placebo muffins (without flaxseed) conducted by Dr. Paul Goss, Dr. Lilian Thompson and colleagues in 2000 at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and a further clinical study conducted by these same researchers with post-menopausal breast cancer patients taking 25 grams of flaxseed daily documented significant anti-cancer effects within 30 to 40 days. A study done with a prostate cancer patient in Australia reported by Dr. Fredrick O. Stevens (1997) and a further randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study with prostate cancer patients conducted by Dr. Jarred and colleagues in England (2002) using red clover isoflavonoid extracts (160 mg/daily for only seven days in the case study and for 30–40 days in the clinical trial) have documented strong anti-cancer effects for red clover isoflavonoid phytoestrogens within days/weeks based on tumorectomies. There were no serious negative side effects noted in any of these studies.

    Foods and herbs rich in phytoestrogens, such as flaxseed (lignans), burdock root (isoflavones), burdock seed (lignans), milk thistle seed (lignans), red clover (isoflavones), soybean (isoflaonves), kudzu root (isoflavones), etc., once eaten, are metabolized within the gut by beneficial intestinal bacteria and the isoflavonoids and lignans that they contain significantly increase serum enterolactone and enterodiol concentrations. According to research conducted by the Australian company, Novogen, certain phytoestrogen metabolites function to inhibit anti-apoptosis proteins in cancer cells thereby causing cancer cells to go through apoptosis or programmed cell death without harming normal cells. Simply put, phtoestrogen-rich foods and extracts can cause cancer cells to simply die and be cleansed from the body without causing terrible side effects. Many phytoestrogens have also been shown to stimulate beneficial anti-cancer enzymes. The powerful and safe anti-cancer activity of phytoestrogen-rich foods and herbs may help to explain the myriad anecdotal reports of spontaneous remissions in cancer patients and miracle cancer cures documented over the centuries with various herbs and herbal combinations. More research is needed in this area to clearly define the anti-cancer activity of different phytoestrogens.

    Many foods, herbs and supplements contain beneficial phytoestrogens and other natural anti-cancer compounds that help to balance hormones in different ways. Sheep sorrel appears to be one that may have great promise for cancer patients. Further human clinical studies with sheep sorrel are needed to confirm the beneficial estrogen modulating and anti-cancer activity of its phytoestrogens and other active ingredients.

    SLIPPERY ELM INNER BARK
    (Ulmus fulva Michx. and U. rubra Muhl.) Slippery elm bark has a long history of use as a medicine and also as a food that can be eaten like gruel and is commonly made into lozenges for sore throats and coughs. The inner bark of this tree has been used as folk remedy for treating cancer and other conditions including: respiratory problems, throat irritation, fever, abscesses, dysentery, urinary and kidney inflammations.

    Choi and colleagues (2002) at Pusan National University in Korea studied slippery elm bark and found that it exhibited dose-dependent peroxynitrite scavenging activities. According to Langmead and colleagues (2002) at the Academic Department of Adult and Paediatric Gastroenterology, London, U.K., slippery elm bark also exhibited potent antioxidant activity using in vitro tests based on chemiluminescence used to detect herbal effects on generation of oxygen radicals by mucosal biopsies from patients with active ulcerative colitis. These researchers concluded that slippery elm and other herbal extracts merit formal evaluation as novel therapies in inflammatory bowel disease.

    Lans, Turner, Khan and Bauer (2007) report the use of Ulmus fulva Michx. in ethnoveterinary medicines used to treat endoparasites and stomach problems in pigs and pets in British Columbia, Canada. The authors note that Ulmus fulva, along with other plants used for this purpose, have mid- to high-level validity for their ethnoveterinary use as anthelmintics (deworming agents).

    Five case studies of patients with psoriasis following a dietary regimen including a pinch of slippery elm bark taken daily with meals found relief of symptoms according to Brown and colleagues (2004) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, U.S. The five psoriasis cases, ranging from mild to severe at the study onset, improved on all measured outcomes over a six-month period.

    INDIAN RHUBARB ROOT
    (Rheum officinale L.)
    Michael Castleman in his book, Medicinal Herbs describes rhubarb (medicinal rhubarbs, Rheum officinale and R. palmatum; and garden rhubarb, R. rhaponticum noted as having similar but less powerful action) as an odd plant: its roots are medicinal; its stems make tasty pies but its leaves are poisonous. He also notes that Chinese physicians have used rhubarb root since ancient times prescribing it externally as a treatment for cuts and burns and internally in small amounts for dysentery while large amounts have powerful laxative action. Formerly, the root was an important drug in many army camps, said to stop dysentry in its tracks. The active ingredients of Indian rhubarb root include emodin and aloe-emodin, rhein and other anthracene derivatives.

    Conclusion: According to many studies, adding a time-tested herbal formula with these humble herbs to your daily menu may bring a boon to your health resulting in many immediately noticeable benefits to your well-being.

    Formal clinical trials are warranted to evaluate the real anticancer effects of formulas containing these four herbs. Such clinical studies need to be carefully designed, placebo controlled clinical trials with cancer patients scheduled for tumorectomies but not receiving chemo or radiation, in order to avoid confounding variables from these treatments (i.e. similar in design to studies assessing the anticancer effects of flaxseed and red clover).

    For references send a S.A.S.E. to totalhealth.

  • Face it. Life is a balancing act. Between work, relationships, parental duties, staying fit, academic efforts, maintaining friendships, community involvement and personal fulfillment, it’s a wonder most of us can even find time to catch our breath. Yet we soldier forward with all our obligations and commitments because we have to, and in most cases, we want to. But when life gets so hectic the stress of it all impacts our mental and physical well-being, it’s time to take action.

    Becoming familiar with the ways different types of stress can affect our minds and bodies, specifically our immune system, as well as learning about the available tools that have been clinically proven to manage the impact of stress on the immune system, are proactive steps toward keeping healthy. Lessening the impact of harmful invaders on our immune system entails not just strengthening it to combat the bacteria and viruses that cause common illnesses, but also ensuring that our immune system’s response to such external stimuli as allergens is not too strong—as asthma and other long-term health implications can result. In short, keeping our immune systems in check, but more importantly, in balance, is imperative to our overall health.

    How Stress Affects the Immune System
    While many aspects of our daily lives can negatively impact our immune systems—a less-than-optimal diet, travel, pollution, changing seasons, overexertion during exercise, lack of sleep and even the normal aging process—stress can also interfere with a healthy immune system.

    Certain physiological changes occur to help an individual cope with stress. Chronic activation of the neurological pathways associated with stress result in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters/ chemicals, which then alter the function of certain cells of the immune system. These altered cells cause the immune system to respond improperly, either by over-responding or under-responding, to bacteria, viruses, allergens, fungi and parasites.

    In addition to impacting the human immune system, stress that is mismanaged and remains too high for prolonged periods of time can lead to a variety of symptoms associated with very serious illnesses, including heart disease, anxiety disorders, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, respiratory disorders, accidental injuries and cirrhosis of the liver. Stress has been linked to all of these illnesses, all of which are leading causes of death in the United States.

    Types of Stress
    There are certain types of stressful events and situations called “stressors” that our bodies react to in different ways. Surprisingly, not all types of stressors negatively affect us. “Acute stressors” are time-limited and temporary. Public speaking and academic testing are examples of short-term stressors that temporarily boost, or over-stimulate, the immune system. The body quickly adapts itself to respond to short-term stressors through the “fight or flight” response by releasing such chemicals as adrenaline that enable our pupils to dilate, our awareness to intensify, our sight to sharpen, our impulses to quicken and our immune system to mobilize and increase activation. Much of the time increased immune system activity is a benefit to us, as it helps to ready the body for challenges, but in some cases an over-reactive immune system can result in allergies, asthma, chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

    “Sequential stressors” include major events that give rise to a series of related challenges, such as the loss of a spouse or a natural disaster. “Chronic stressors” are ongoing, persuasive demands that force people to restructure their identity or social roles and have no end in sight. Examples of such stressors include caring for an aging spouse or elderly parent, being victim of an event that leads to a permanent disability or fleeing a third-world country because of violence or war.

    Both sequential and chronic stressors suppress, or under-stimulate, the immune system, leaving the body open for attack and more vulnerable to illness. Other manifestations of these types of stress include: fatigue and exhaustion; headaches or migraines; neck and back pain or stiffness; gastrointestinal problems (nausea, diarrhea, constipation or colitis); chest pains or palpitations; sleep disturbances; family conflicts; job tensions; and a change in sexual energy.

    A Tool for a Balanced Immune System: EpiCor
    While we may be able to employ various proven tactics to reduce our stress level, such as exercise, meditation, acupuncture and/ or massage therapy, the fact remains that certain amounts of stress will be present in our lives; especially in today’s increasingly over-scheduled society. So, if escaping our stressors is not an option—and for most of us it’s not—we may need some extra help in keeping our immune system in balance while we deal with daily stress.

    One such all-natural tool that can be used in this capacity is a product called EpiCor™, which is comprised of metabolites that nourish and balance the body’s immune system. EpiCor strengthens resistance and maintains wellness before immune health issues develop by helping the body modulate its immune response.

    Just like the medical breakthroughs penicillin and X-rays, EpiCor was discovered by accident! When the parent company experienced minimal health insurance premium rate increases several years in a row and the incidences of employees using sick days were rare, a series of scientific studies were conducted. Findings confirmed that production workers who had been exposed to the ingredient experienced significantly higher immune activity than those workers who had not been exposed. EpiCor is unique in that just one 500 milligram capsule per day helps the immune system stay strong and healthy through balance. A strong immune system is not one that has only been stimulated or boosted. Those actions can certainly be helpful at specific times, but as we have just learned, there are times that the immune system can over-respond, leading to health issues. A strong immune system is one that is balanced and can respond appropriately, depending on the situation at hand. These two actions—boosting and suppressing—constitute EpiCor’s proven methodology known as “immune balance.”

    Research on EpiCor and What it Means to Us
    Unlike so many other immune health supplements, a bevy of scientific research supports EpiCor’s effects on the immune system. Favorable efficacy profiles have been observed for Epi- Cor in clinical trials, and studies at the cellular (in vitro) level have suggested its mechanisms of action. Multiple toxicological studies have been performed that prove the safety of EpiCor. In addition to finding that EpiCor has no contraindications, ongoing research has also confirmed EpiCor fights free radicals through its high antioxidant activity and helps to manage inflammation.

    Most recently, a published study found that EpiCor has a significant impact on the incidence and duration of the common cold and flu. Specifically, this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that taken once a day, a 500 milligram EpiCor capsule significantly decreased the incidences of cold and flu symptoms as well as observable symptom duration. These results translate into fewer sick days for people taking EpiCor, which is of great importance to American businesses dealing with health care costs, employee sick days and lost revenue.

    Now think of what this research on EpiCor means for our personal overall health which, as we have learned, is directly affected by our stress levels. If we are healthy, we are not staying home sick from work and falling behind. If we are healthy, we are more likely to be fully engaged when interacting with our partners, children and friends, thus strengthening those relationships instead of aggravating them by being over-stressed and irritable. If we are healthy, we have more physical energy to participate in personal fulfillment activities that interest us and allow us to decompress, such as gardening, cooking, exercising and reading. And finally, if we are healthy, we are not spending money on medial deductibles, treatments or unnecessary prescriptions, which is a major concern according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) recent national survey reporting that money is the leading cause of stress for 75 percent of all Americans. The APA also found that 77 percent of people suffering from stress reported physical symptoms including fatigue, headache, upset stomach, muscle tension, change in appetite, teeth grinding, change in sex drive and feeling dizzy.

    Sound familiar?

    Isn’t it time we broke this vicious stress-illness cycle? Keeping our immune system balanced is the first step. In addition to giving our immune system the very basic things that help to keep it healthy—good nutrition and plenty of sleep—there are other things we can do to support it as well. One such thing is EpiCor. As an all-natural, safe and economical way of supporting the immune system, EpiCor just may be the key to a balanced and healthy life.

    References:
    • Jensen, G, et al. An anti-inflammatory immunogen from yeast culture induces activation and alters chemokine receptor expression on human natural killer cells and B lymphocytes in vitro. Nutrition Research (2007), 27:6, 327–335.
    • Moyad, M, et al. Effects of a modified yeast supplement on cold/flu symptoms. Urologic Nursing (2008), 28:1, 50–5.
    • Padgett, DA, et al. How stress influences the immune response.
    • TRENDS in Immunology (2003), 24:8, 444–8. Segerstrom SC, et al. Psychological stress and the human immune system: a meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological Bulletin (2004), 130, 601–30.
  • Over the years life expectancy has risen, with a parallel increase in age-related conditions and chronic diseases, of the cardiovascular, brain and immune systems, increases in cancer and bone fragility. Many of these pathological states are linked to the action of free radical reactions. In order to try and combat oxidant free radicals damage, antioxidant-rich herbs and natural products have gained popularity. Among these, garlic that is rich in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds and was used for thousands of years to treat age-associated ailments, is a most popular choice. Modern medicine and scientific research have confirmed many of the medicinal properties of garlic and its anti-aging potential, including the ability to boost immunity, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, protect the brain and increase bone density.

    While we enjoy garlic in small quantities as an excellent condiment, ingesting large amounts of fresh garlic to achieve its anti-aging benefits is not for everyone. Garlic’s strong odor lingers on the breath and skin and ingesting large quantities may lead to gastrointestinal problems, including flatulence and diarrhea. KyolicTM AGE, (aged garlic extract), an odorless supplement provides the benefits of the fresh bulb without the unpleasant side effects. AGE has been the choice garlic preparation in scientific and medical research on the health effects of garlic and its benefits have been documented in over 700 peer reviewed publications.

    Aged Garlic Extract
    Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), is manufactured by Wakunaga of America, from organically grown garlic by a lengthy procedure of extraction and aging, at room temperature. The process converts harsh unstable substances such as allicin to stable compounds, increasing the antioxidant content of AGE above the levels found in fresh garlic.

    AGE is rich in highly bioavailable organosulfur compounds with antioxidant activity, largely water soluble, including S-allyl cysteine and S-allyl mercaptocysteine. Also present are lipid soluble organosulfur compounds, carbohydrates, including fructans which are immune-boosters and micronutrients such as selenium and other antioxidants such as fructosyl arginine and alixin.

    AGE had been shown to enhance immunity, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and help reduce the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, help maintain bone density as well as prevent cell damage by free radical-producing drugs and radiation, including UV.

    Protecting Immunity
    Our immune system is the path to good health and longevity. A vigorous immune system protects against infectious bacteria, viruses, fungi and helps fight the development of cancer. Our goal is therefore to maintain a fortified immune system to protect us from colds and flu, fight invading disease-causing microorganisms, prevent cancer growth and combat inflammation, now known to play a critical role in cardiovascular disease as well as in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. In most cases our immune system can handle an amazing variety of pathogens and microbes and overcome inflammation, but as a battle between a pathogen and the immune response takes place, the result can be sickness, when immunity is weak, or health, when the immune cells are winning.

    The immune system is complex. Inflammation is one of the first responses of the immune system to infection and involves the release of prostaglandins and leukotrienes that attract white blood cells (leukocytes), and interferons that has anti-viral effects.

    Leukocytes include a wide range of immune cells that include macrophages, neutrophils, that engulf foreign invaders and natural killer cells (NK) that destroy cancer cells and cells infected by viruses.

    AGE Enhances Immunity
    Aged garlic extract has been shown in a wide range of preclinical and clinical studies to enhance the immune response, mitigate infectious diseases, reduce inflammation and kill cancer cells. AGE intake enhances the phagocytic (cell-killing) activity of macrophages, the activity of the T lymphocytes that direct the immune system to combat invaders, increases the number and activity of natural killer cells (NK) and their anti-cancer action; AGE also was found to, suppress inflammation—related prostaglandins and enhance interferon.

    AGE Increases NK Activity
    A random double-blind clinical trial showed that AGE administered to patients with inoperable colorectal, liver or pancreatic cancer resulted in a significant increase in the number and activity of the NK cells.

    A study in AIDS patients, who are found to have lower levels of NK cells showed that AGE enhanced NK cells and helper T cells. After a 6-week intake of AGE at 1800 mg/day the levels of NK cells rose to that of the healthy individuals. Helper T cells were also increased with patients showing improvement of a variety of conditions, often increased in aging, including herpes infection, yeast infections and diarrhea; when compared to the efficacy of fresh garlic, the investigators found that AGE was a more effective immune-stimulator than fresh garlic, and observed NK activity was up by 140 percent with the fresh preparation and by 160 percent with AGE capsules.

    AGE Prevents UV induced Immunosuppression
    Ultra violet radiation (UV) has been linked to cancer, largely skin cancer; one of the effects of UV is to decrease immunity. Studies in Australia on human volunteers have shown immunosuppression by exposure to UV irradiation and that this immunosuppression increases the incidence of skin cancer. Men were immunosuppressed by UV doses that were three times lower than those required to immunosuppress women. They concluded that this may be an important cause of the higher skin cancer incidence and mortality observed in men.

    In a preclinical study, using contact hypersensitivity as the immune response, Reeve and colleagues found a 58 percent immunosuppression following moderate exposure to UVB radiation, direct DNA damage was reduced to 19 percent by intake of AGE as four percent of the diet. The pre-clinical studies offer the possibility that AGE may also help protect humans against UV induced immunosuppression, and have the potential to reduce the risk of skin cancer a condition that is more prevalent in aging.

    AGE Reduces Inflammatory Prostaglandins
    Oxidative damage and immune-inflammatory activation play a role in cancer, neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease and in depression. Prostaglanding, are associated with inflammation and release of local pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and cytokines, accompanied by the destruction of tissue. Rahman and colleagues have found that dietary supplementation with AGE for 14 days reduced plasma and urine concentrations of the prostaglandin 8iso-PGF(2 alpha) by up to 37 percent in nonsmokers and up to 48 percent in smokers. Fourteen days after cessation of dietary supplementation, prostaglandin levels returned to similar levels as those before ingestion of AGE, showing that in order to maintain protection a continuous intake of AGE is required.

    AGE Protects The Heart And Brain
    Aged garlic extract has been shown to modulate cardiovascular risk factors in over 700 scientific and medical publications. The AGE protective action also reduced risk factors for dementia. AGE increases, by 30-40 percent, the production of nitric oxide (NO), a regulator of blood pressure and lowers blood pressure, thus protecting both the heart and the brain. AGE inhibits platelet aggregation and adhesion that play a role in atherosclerotic plaque formation, it lowers LDL and prevents its oxidation, reduces triglycerides and homocysteine. AGE elevates HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), and reduces smoking related oxidative damage.

    The major effect of AGE in lowering cholesterol is by blocking an enzyme involved in the production of cholesterol (3 hydroxy 3 methylglutaryl CoA) by as much as 41 percent. The effect is additive with statins, the cholesterol lowering medications. Breakthrough clinical studies at the University of California Los Angeles, found that AGE significantly inhibits the progression of coronary artery calcification, a marker for atherosclerosis, thus reducing the risk of plaque formation and a heart attack. The same studies, authored by Dr. Budoff and colleagues also showed that AGE lowers homocysteine triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and increases HDL.

    Protection Of Blood Vessels
    One of the age related cardiovascular problems is the narrowing of blood vessels due to calcification of the lining. AGE protects the lining of blood vessels (endothelial cells) from oxidative damage and increases microcirculation; an important factor in cardio-protection, notably in diabetes, where the disease damages microvasculature and the risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia is high.

    The Bottom Line
    Kyolic aged garlic extract (AGE) is a natural, odorless antioxidant-rich garlic supplement, manufactured by Wakunaga of America from organic garlic. It is the most popular garlic supplement and being the most standardized is the preferred form used in medical and scientific research. AGE has consistently shown an ability to act as an effective health promoting supplement with anti-aging activity, boosting immunity, reducing inflammation, lowering risk factors for cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer as well as helping maintain bone density, an important consideration in aging as bone fragility increases with age.

    References

    1. Zeb I, Ahmadi N, Nasir K, Kadakia J, Larijani VN, Flores F, Li D, Budoff MJ, Aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 have favorable effect on inflammatory markers and coronary atherosclerosis progression: A randomized clinical trial. J Cardiovasc Dis Res. 2012 :185¡V90.
    2. Borek C. Garlic reduces dementia and heart disease risk J Nut. 2006;136:810¡V812.
    3. Nasser A. et al Aged garlic extract with supplement is associated with beneficial effects on bone mineral density and predicts lack of progression of atherosclerosis: a prospective double blinded randomized trial 2015; Int J. of Cardiovascular Research 4:3 http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2324-8602.1000206.
    4. Dillon SA, Lowe GM, Billington D, Rahman K. Dietary supplementation with aged garlic extract reduces plasma and urine concentrations of 8-iso prostaglandin F(2alpha). J Nutr.2002 Feb;132 :168¡V71.
    5. Tanaka S, Haruma K, Yoshihara M, Kajiyama G, Kira K, Amagase H, Chayama K. Aged garlic extract has potential suppressive effect on colorectal adenoma in humans. J Nutr. 2006 Mar;136 :821S¡V826S.
    6. Ishikawa H, Saeki T, Otani T, Suzuki T, Shimozuma K, Nishino H, Fukuda S, Morimoto K. Aged garlic extract prevents a decline of NK cell number and activity in patients with advanced cancer J Nutr.2006 Mar;136 :816S-820S.
  • Moducare® is a patented blend of plant sterols and sterolins, and the only sterol/sterolin product clinically proven to be effective in immune modulation. Moducare can be considered an adjunct to help shift immune responses to a more balanced state. It enhances the activity of various immune cells and increases the killing ability of specialized cells, called Natural Killer cells, responsible for immune surveillance. Moducare also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce the effects of stress on the immune system by managing the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Moducare is well-tolerated, with no known interactions with either prescribed medications or natural supplements. Plus, long-term studies have found that it has no significant negative side effects.

    Human Research Proves Plant Sterols Action
    We call sterols the forgotten nutrient because although thousands of research studies have been preformed on this nutrient, it has not been given the recognition it deserves.

    Over 4,000 published studies to date have examined phytosterols and 140 of these studies are double-blind, placebo-controlled human trials. Rheumatoid arthritis, cervical cancer, diabetes, immune function, prostate problems, HI V, herpes, hepatitis C, allergies, stress-induced immune suppression, chronic fatigue, tuberculosis, breast cancer, and high cholesterol are only some of the diseases where sterols and sterolins have been shown to be extremely effective.

    Plant sterols and sterolins are essential for modulating (balancing) the immune system, enhancing it if it is under active, and reducing it when it is over stimulated. They perform the balancing act very effectively. Patrick J.D. Bouic, Ph.D., has shown in his research that plant sterols and sterolins are effective in enhancing an under active immune system and/or decreasing an overactive one. This happens without the side effects associated with pharmaceutical substances such as interferon, prednisone or methotrexate. Sterols and sterolins have been evaluated in a 25,000-person safety study and found to have no side effects, no drug interactions, and no toxicity. It is safe for children, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers. Only those who have had an organ transplant cannot take plant sterols because they may stimulate rejection.

    Plant sterols and sterolins also increase the number and action of natural killer cells (our cancer fighters) and increase our DHE A levels naturally. They are also able to reduce the stress hormone cortisol and the proinflammatory immune factor, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TN F-a). Interleukin-6 and (TN F-a) are increased in autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis, over exercising, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis. Reduction of this inflammatory agent is the key to halting symptoms and pain. This is exactly what plant sterols and sterolins do.

    Sterols—Great Stress Busters
    Chronic stress is so negative that it can promote and exacerbate most disease. Numerous studies have linked our ability to deal with stress to our susceptibility to the common cold as well as more serious diseases such as cancer. Adults who have recently lost a loved one or have been divorced or separated tend to have the highest cancer rates. Unrelieved stress gradually weakens and suppresses our immune system, causing disease. Stressful situations promote the release of cortisol, the stress hormone which in turn causes the secretion of a negative immune factor interleukin-6. Abnormal levels of IL-6 are associated with osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, asthma, inflammatory diseases including arthritis, and more. We know that phytosterols are effective in reducing IL-6, cortisol and other negative immune factors. They also improve DHEA, a hormone known to help fight the effects of stress.

    An overview follows of a few of the outstanding studies published.

    Sterols Lower Cholesterol
    The rapid cholesterol-lowering effects of phytosterols have been reported in over 400 studies. Beta-sitosterol is very similar in structure to cholesterol except that it has an extra ethyl group on the side chain. Due to this similarity, it interferes with the absorption of the cholesterol found in our foods as well as the cholesterol produced by the body. By including phytosterol-rich foods or supplements containing sterols, we can normalize cholesterol much faster than with the common cholesterol-lowering drugs.

    Sterols Halt Hepatitis C
    Hepatitis C is now occurring in epidemic proportions. Over four million North Americans are infected with hepatitis C. Liver specialists are overwhelmed as they struggle to deal with the increase in the incidence of this disease. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants in North America. Physicians using sterols and sterolins to treat hepatitis C have already shown that with 90 days of the sterols and sterolins treatment liver enzymes and viral load normalize.

    Sterols, Heart Disease and DHEA
    A team of Canadian researchers discovered that an error in the regulation of certain immune cells that fight bacterial infections may be implicated in heart attacks and strokes. In a study published in the International Journal of Immunopharmacology, plant sterols and sterolins are shown to improve the ability of the immune system to fight bacterial infections. Sterols and sterolins, not antibiotics, may be the way to treat bacterial-induced heart disease.

    Prostate Problems Eliminated
    Urologists in Germany have been using plant sterols and sterolins for over two decades for the treatment of enlarged prostate. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 200 patients with an average age of 65 and with BPH, subjects were given sterols and sterolins for six months. The treatment group showed a rapid reduction of the symptoms mentioned above and an increase in peak urinary flow and a decrease in inflammation. When does a health food product become mainstream? Do 4,000 medical studies constitute good scientific evidence of a nutrient’s effectiveness? We believe plant sterols and sterolins will change the way we treat disease in the future. Instead of treating symptoms, we will get directly to the source of the symptoms and repair the cause of the disease.

  • Olive leaf complex is quite simply one of the most useful natural compounds I’ve ever encountered. It’s a powerful health tonic that’s fantastic for general well-being and enhanced immunity.

    Let me explain.

    The olive plant is a rich source of such beneficial plant compounds as tocopherols, flavonoids, anthocyanins, sterols and polyphenols. “The real benefit of olive oil is that it delivers these amazing polyphenols,” says David Rubin, MD, MSc, an Israeli researcher and biochemist.

    What are Polyphenols, Anyway?
    Polyphenols are a group of valuable chemicals found throughout the plant kingdom primarily in berries, walnuts, olives, teas, grapes and other fruits and vegetables. They have a wide variety of health benefits. And the fresh leaves of some olive trees are loaded with them.

    These polyphenols also have antimicrobial activity against a wide variety of viruses, bacteria, yeasts and fungi.

    Scientific advances have shown there are at least 30 distinct polyphenols in fresh-picked olive leafs and that the full spectrum of these polyphenols in fresh-picked olive leaves gives a synergistic effect greater than any individual isolated compound alone. This is why the most bioeffective olive leaf products on the market today are always made directly from fresh-picked, whole olive leaves which provide the whole spectrum of natural polyphenolic antioxidants just as nature intended. This also enables them to work together in natural synergy to maximize the health benefits.

    How is Your Immune System Functioning?
    Immunity is one of the keys to good health. Think for a moment about the last time something was “going around” your office. Some people got really sick but others probably didn’t. And even among those who did, whatever “bug” was going around probably laid some people out for two weeks while others were back to work after a day or so.

    The difference? The performance of the Immune System.
    We can’t do much about the bugs and microbes we’re all exposed to—but what we can do is strengthen and support our immune system.

    Olive Leaf Complex Can Help.
    Here are some of the questions you might ask yourself if you’re interested in evaluating just how well your immune system is functioning:

    • Do you get infections frequently?
    • Do you have frequent colds?
    • Do you get the flu?
    • Do you experience inflammation or infection in the
    • upper respiratory tract?
    • Do you suffer from bronchitis frequently?
    • Do you have recurrent skin infections?
    • Have you ever suffered from recurrent infections of
    • Candida or “yeast infections”?
    • Have you been diagnosed with Epstein-Barr or chronic fatigue syndrome?
    • Do you experience a reduction in stamina and resistance, especially when under stress?
    • Are your energy levels less than you would like them to be?

    Any or all of these can be symptoms of compromised immunity.

    What about Olive Leaf for Bacteria and Viruses?
    Your best defense against the potential damage of bacteria and viruses is to have a strong, robust immune system that will prevent them from taking root and doing harm in the first place.

    Fresh-picked olive leaf complex can be a powerful weapon in the battle between your immune system and invading microbes. The bitter substances in olive leaves—since identified as the polyphenols we’ve been talking about throughout this article (oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, caffeic acid, verbascoside, etc.) have been found to be particularly helpful in resisting bacterial damage. In fact, early research by the drug company Upjohn found extracts from olive leaves to be effective in treating infection caused by a large number of viruses as well as bacteria and parasitic protozoans.

    According to James R. Privitera, MD, these are some of the unique properties possessed by the olive leaf compound for the broad killing power:

    • Olive leaf has an ability to interfere with critical amino acid production essential for viruses.
    • Olive leaf has an ability to control viral infection and/or spread by inactivating viruses or by preventing virus shedding, budding or assembly at the cell membrane.
    • Olive leaf extract has the ability to directly penetrate
    • infected cells and stop viral replication.
    • Olive leaf can stimulate a process called phagocytosis, an immune system response in which cells act like little Pac-Man, ingesting harmful microorganisms and foreign matter.

    In vitro studies have found olive leaf extract is effective against over 50 common disease causing organisms including viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa such as herpes, influenza A, Polio 1, 2, and 3; Salmonella typhimurium, Candida Krusei and Coxsackie A21.

    Biochemist Arnold Takemoto, talking to the Townsend Newsletter for Doctors and Patients put it this way: “(I have) yet to discover another herbal substance that accomplishes antimicrobially what this substance achieves.”

    But not just any old olive leaf…

    One brand I particularly like is Barlean’s olive leaf complex. It’s made 100 percent from fresh-picked leaves; it’s never reconstituted, it has no artificial preservatives, no added sugar and it comes in a fast-acting, great-tasting liquid. Every batch has been thoroughly analyzed using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), the global standard to scientifically identify and measure the healing compounds in herbal medicines. In Australia, consumers already spend up to three million dollars a month on this incredible olive leaf product.

    Barlean’s olive leaf complex comes from trees that have been farmed naturally on virgin land in Australia. Organic vermiculture (worm created) fertilizers and pristine irrigation water are coupled with early morning harvesting and immediate transfer of the freshly harvested leaves to the processing plant.

    What dosage is best?
    Though there is really no “official” recommended dose for taking olive leaf complex, many experts recommend a basic maintenance dose for general use and a “therapeutic” dose for special cases. Generally, the consensus is one tablespoonful (15ml) one to two times a day taken right before eating is ideal for maintenance.

    For conditions such as the common cold, flu, sinus infections and basic respiratory tract infections, the recommended dose is 2 × 5ml teaspoons every six hours, says naturopath Jack Ritchason, ND. For acute infections such as sore throat, swollen glands or fever, Ritchason recommends three teaspoons (15ml) every six hours.

    On a personal note, I take a capful of olive leaf complex on a daily basis as a general tonic and immune system booster. Although this is hardly a scientific statement, I can tell you I rarely get sick and on the few occasions I do, it’s very mild and I’m back to my routine in record time. Apparently, I’m not alone in being a fan of olive leaf complex. Experts agree taking this wonderful supplement can be a valuable part of anyone’s health routine.

    Says Ritchason: “From all indications—research, case studies and widespread use—olive leaf extract appears to be an extremely safe supplement that can effectively aid the body in improving immune function and fighting infection by various microbes.”

  • It looks like we're not the only ones who like the new line of Probium probiotics. In 2014, the 3rd Annual SupplySide CPG Editor's Choice Awards have announced Probium Probiotics Pro-Cran Blend 6B as a finalist with the winners to be announced Oct 6th at SupplySide in Las Vegas.

    Not having spoken with the SupplySide Editors I can only guess why they have chosen Probium Probiotics Pro-Cran Blend 6B as a finalist. D-mannose, an ingredient in Probium products, won the Better Nutrition 2010 award for Best of Supplements.

    Probium Probiotics Pro-Cran Blend 6B is a terrific supplement for women. With the combination of the timed-release capsule, very high quality of probiotics, D-Mannose and Cranberry extracts you will love the benefits it offers your gut health, digestive system, immune system and urinary tract health.

    Key points:

    • Contains 6 Billion CFU per Serving of a Proprietary Blend of Lactobacillus acidophilus La14, Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04, Bifidobacterium bifidum Bb-06 and Bifidobacterium longum Bl-05 along with a Proprietary Blend of Cranberry Fruit Extract, Sunfiber®, FOS and D-Mannose which contains the Equivalent of 752mg of Fresh Cranberry Fruit per Serving
    • Other Ingredients - Sunfiber® (Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum), Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), Vegetable Powder, Silicon Dioxide and Vegetable Cellulose (Delayed Release Capsules)
    • 6 Billion Active Microflora per Serving (1 Veggie Capsule)
    • Two Year Shelf Life at Room Temperature
    • No Wheat, No Eggs, No Yeast, No Soy, No Sugar, No Salt, No Animal Derivatives, No Maltodextrin, No Magnesium Stearate, No Artificial Flavors or Preservatives
    • Gluten Free, Non-Dairy, and Non-GMO
    • Kosher Certified
    • Made in Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
    • Digestive Health**

    Suggested Use

    As a dietary supplement, take 1 capsule per day, preferably in the morning on an empty stomach or as directed by a healthcare professional.

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