10 Best Immune Boosting Supplements - Part 1
To stay healthy our bodies need a robust defence system, to ensure we are protected from stressors and pathogens.
Our day-to-day life exposes us to many damaging molecules & microorganisms, both in the environment and from others.
Pathogens & microorganism include:
To tackle this challenge, our immune system protects our body from these dangers, utilising a complex network of cells, tissues and organs – to ensure we can combat what comes our way.
Without a robust immune system, the body becomes susceptible to infection & illness.
Optimizing immune health to ensure we have the maximum protection is essential to ensure we keep fit, healthy & live the best quality of life. In some circumstances, our immune system may be weakened or unable to overcome these challenges.
As we age, our immune response is also compromised, leading to a higher risk of infection and age-related conditions.
This increased risk may be due to:
- Thymus (where T cells mature) deteriorating leading to a T cell decline
- Bone marrow becomes less efficient at producing stem cells – which turn into immune cells
- Nutrient deficiencies, which are common in the elderly, such as zinc, vitamins A, B, C and E, iron and folate
Preventing and correcting these deficiencies with nutraceuticals help the elderly maintain a strong immune system.
Other Factors That Weaken Your Immune System:
- Poor Diet
- Smoking & Alcohol
- Poor Sleep
- Lack of Exercise & Obesity
It is best to consider a multi-modal approach to supporting your immune system.
Combining a healthy lifestyle, tackling nutrient deficiencies and enhancing the body’s defences with essential compounds is the best way to optimize wellness and combat illness.
Understanding Your Immune System
Humans have 3 types of immunity:
- Passive / Borrowed Immunity are the antibodies passed on from mother to child providing initial protection
- Innate / Natural Immunity is the natural protection we are born with and is nonspecific to different pathogens
Acquired / Adaptive Immunity develops throughout life when we are exposed to different pathogens
Regulating the Immune System
When antioxidants and free radicals are out of balance, the normal immune response can be disrupted.
It can become overly sensitive and overproduce immune cells & cytokines.
An up-regulated immune system is unhealthy and can lead to more severe problems.
A cytokine storm is the result of an immune system gone wild - Immune cells go into overdrive and flood into infected areas.
Ensuring our immune system is optimized but regulated is essential to ensure we stay healthy.
Part of how we do this is with phytochemicals that help regulate healthy cytokine production.
The immune system relies on cell-cell communication to function.
Damage to this signalling system would result in impaired immunity.
The immune system is extremely sensitive to oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Many immune cells produce Reactive Oxygen Species as part of their defence against pathogens.
Neutralizing these ROS’s with antioxidants is required to prevent further damage to immune cells themselves.
1. NAD & NMN
NAD+ plays a crucial role in innate and adaptive immunity with a combined approach of both stimulating and regulating immune response.
A decline in NAD+ during aging is believed to be a major cause of age-related immune system deficiency.
Is an essential protein & enzyme which regulates immune cell production. It is NAD+ dependent and requires NAD+ to function.
In the bone marrow, Sirt1 tightly regulates stem cell maturation into active immune cells.
This ensures we have a mature & healthy pool of circulating immune cells.
Sirt 1 also modulates the activation and proliferation of T cells to enhance our adaptive immunity and ensure we can recognise and destroy invaders.
NAD+ helps Sirt 1 differentiate stem cells into immune & T Cells.
NAD+ also regulates immune cell signalling protein expression, optimizing cell messaging systems for protection.
*Deficiency of NAD+ leads to poor stem cell differentiation and immune cell production.
Echinacea is a popular immune-boosting supplement that has been used for centuries and was used by native Americans to treat a plethora of ailments.
It is sold widely across pharmacies & supermarkets worldwide.
There are 9 species but only these 3 are actually used:
- Echinacea Purpurea
- Echinacea Angustifolia
- Echinacea Pallida
The plant contains active compounds such as caffeic acid, alkamides, phenolic acids, rosmarinic acid and polyacetylenes.
Here are the benefits of Echinacea:
- High in Antioxidants - flavonoids, cichoric acid and rosmarinic acid helps combat oxidative stress and alkamides renew worn-out antioxidants
- Immune-Boosting Effects - review of 14 studies found that taking echinacea may lower the risk of developing colds by more than 50%
- Lower Blood Sugar Levels – test-tube studies showed that echinacea can lower blood sugar by suppressing enzymes that digest carbohydrates
- Anti-Inflammatory - in a mouse study, echinacea compounds helped reduce important inflammatory markers and memory-loss caused by inflammation
Recommended Daily Dosage: 300–500 mg of Echinacea purpurea, three times daily.
3. Beta Glucans 1,3 & 1,6
Beta-glucans are both soluble dietary fibre & sugars.
They are found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens & plants, such as oats and barley.
They have been shown to stimulate & boost the immune system to help the body fight off infection more efficiently & effectively.
Beta Glucan shows the following benefits:
- Linked to Improvements in Cholesterol
- Controlling Blood Sugar Levels
- Maintains Healthy Gut Bacteria
- Helps with Weight Control
- Boosts Hearth Health
In a human trial to study the effects on the common cold, 100 subjects received yeast-derived B-glucan (900mg/day) or placebo for 26 weeks.
B-glucan group had significantly less incidence of infection and reduced the typical cold symptoms.
In a second study on 162 participants, the number of cold episodes was reduced by 25%.
Progression of the severe common cold was also milder.
Recommended Daily Dosage: Under 50 years Men 38g Women 25g per day orally 51+ over Men 30 g Woman 21 g per day.
4. Tumeric / Cumin
A staple in many Indian dishes and the reason why your curries are yellow in colour.
Used for thousands of years as a spice but also a medicinal herb, turmeric contains compounds called curcuminoids.
The best one of these is Curcumin.
Curcumin has a poor bioavailability which is why it is best to consume it alongside black pepper - it helps increase the absorption rate by 2,000%!
Here are 5 benefits of Tumeric & Curcumin:
- Helps Fight Foreign Invaders
- Helps Repair Damage from Pathogens Like Bacteria
- Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Properties without the Side-Effects
- Increases Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which May Help Improve Memory
- Promotes a Healthy Heart as it may Help Improve the Function of Endothelium
It is also a potent immunomodulatory agent (modulates your immune system),
modulating the activation of:
- T cells
- B cells
- Natural killer Cells
- Dendritic Cells
- whilst also down-regulating the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Recommended Daily Dosage: 500 - 2,000mg per day.
5. Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA 1)
Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is a food component that was found in 1957.
There have been 6 clinical trials with a total of close to 4000 people that were performed and published last century - specifically studying PEA as a therapy for influenza and the common cold.
It is well known for its actions as a potent modulator to support healthy inflammation.
Extensive research has demonstrated the positive effects on the immune system.
The first trial, conducted on 444 employees in a workplace, had each individual take 600mg 3 times daily for 12 days.
They experienced significantly lower episodes of fever, headache & sore throat compared with placebo.
The total number of sickness days significantly reduced.
The second trial was conducted on 899 army volunteers, with each individual taking 600mg for 3 weeks.
The incidence of disease lowered by 40% at week 6; by week 8, there was a 32% lower incidence.
Subsequent 3 trials in soldiers conducted showed a significant reduction in acute respiratory disease, significantly fewer symptoms and fewer flu diagnoses.
All findings show PEA having a clear prophylactic effect (intended to prevent disease) against respiratory infections.
It seems safe with no reported side effects and can be used in a formulation to help aid influenza prevention. PEA may be a quick therapeutic approach in the case of a flu epidemic.
6. Organic Piperine
Piperine is known for the pungent taste in black pepper and is an alkaloid.
It has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory & immunomodulatory effects.
A malfunctioning immune system sometimes over reacts... Regulating this over sensitivity is necessary to keep things under control.
Piperine has been shown to inhibit B lymphocyte activation, preventing overstimulation & modulating the immune response.
It also significantly inhibits cytokine production, the substance that causes inflammation, from immune cells and has been used successfully in treating and preventing allergy.
Studies show that with allergic rhinitis, piperine has helped:
- Reduced symptoms of nose-rubbing & sneezing
- Decreased histamine, NO, IgE and cytokine release
- Decreased histamine release from rat mast cells (a type of leukocyte) involved in IgE mediated allergic disorder
In vitro, Piperine has shown to have a strong anti-viral effect against influenza - by interfering with the attachment process between the virus and host cell membrane.
Using piperine alongside turmeric has been shown to boost the absorption of turmeric & increase bioavailability by up to 2,000%.
Adding 20 mg of piperine to 2 grams of curcumin increased its absorption significantly.
7. Pomegranate Extract - Ellagic Acid
Ellagic acid is a very special polyphenol found in fruits and vegetables. Often extracted from Pomegranate & Gall Nuts.
It is a potent antimicrobial agent & serves as a natural alternative to some conventional drugs - due to its potency against bacterial & viral pathogens.
The recent surge in multiple drug-resistant pathogens & global virus pandemics means we need to consider alternative therapeutic options to conventional drugs.
Ellagic acid, has potent antibacterial properties with positive effects on both gut probiotic and pathogenic bacteria.
It has exhibited bacteriostatic (stops replication) & bactericidal (kills bacteria) activity in E. coli.
It also exhibited bactericidal properties against
MRSA aka the "super bug" - is a very difficult to treat bacterial infection.
In vitro tests, Pomegranate Polyphenols e.g. Ellagic Acid, altered bacterial cell wall profiles - leading to bacteria destruction.
Influenza epidemics cause millions of hospitalizations each year.
Resistance to anti-influenza drugs means natural molecules must be identified.
In test-tube studies, pomegranate polyphenol extract inhibits influenza replication by blocking the replication of the virus RNA.
It could be a potential therapeutic option for such viruses.
Daily intake of pomegranate has been recommended as a dietary supplement to augment the human immune system’s antioxidant, antimalarial & antimicrobial capabilities.
8. GINKGO BILOBA
Ginkgo Biloba is a potent antioxidant with important immunostimulatory properties.
As a surviving member of an ancient order of plants, it is often referred to as a living fossil.
With great importance as an AntiOxidant, Anti-Aging, Free Radical Scavenging & Immunoregulatory nutraceutical.
In one study, rats were immunosuppressed using electric shocks to simulate chronic stress.
The rats who were supplemented with oral Ginkgo extract had reduced corticosterone levels (also referred to as the stress hormone).
This was due to the extract stimulating the immune system& reversing the effects of chronic stress.
In humans, supplementation of ginkgo aglucone flavone, the active substance in ginkgo, accelerated immune system function.
Arsenicosis is a chronic illness resulting from drinking water with high levels of arsenic over a long period.
Ginkgo treatment exerted immune regulation & T cell balance in those with arsenicosis.
- Upregulating regulatory T cells
- Downregulating Th17 cells &
- Associated cytokines.
In vitro, Ginkgo extract has exhibited anti-influenza viral effects when tested with kidney cells.
It has also been successfully used in anti-viral studies against Herpes & could augment current therapies for both lip & genital herpes.
9. DIHYDROMYRICETIN (DMY)
DMY (aka Ampelopsin) is a flavanol extracted from the Japanese Raisin Tree.
It is traditionally used in alternative medicine to treat infection, fever and liver disease.
It is often used as Vine tea to alleviate fever and cough.
It has been shown to exhibit
- Antidiabetic properties
- Protecting the liver
The phytochemicals DMY & Myricetin are the two main flavonoids present.
Myricetin is also found in berries, vegetables and wines.
It is structurally related to several other well-known phenolic compounds such as Quercetin, Fisetin & Kaempferol.
Research has revealed the immunomodulatory capacity of myricetin. It has displayed anti-viral & anti-bacterial activity against several organisms.
Citrus Flavonoids occur naturally in citrus fruits, especially grapefruits.
Naringin + Naringenin belong to these flavonoids which display strong anti-inflammatory & antioxidant activities.
Anti-Viral, Anti-Bacterial & Cardio Protective effects have been documented.
Several test-tube studies have demonstrated the antimicrobial action of naringenin against hepatitis C, dengue virus, chikungunya infection & various bacteria.
Benefits of Naringin:
- Anti-Viral & Anti-Bacterial activity
- Lowers Cholesterol
- Promotes eye health in diabetics
- Simulates the effect of caffeine &
- Could increase fat burning
Using citrus flavonoids in conjunction with antiviral therapy has been beneficial in hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C Virus secretion in infected cells was reduced by 80%.