Part-5 by: Jonathan Vellinga, MD
As restrictions begin to loosen, we will begin enjoying being out and around people more. This also means that our immune systems will once again be exposed to a greater variety of pathogens and will need even greater support. In the last article, we provided information on the main supplements we recommend to boost your immune system and minimize your chance of becoming sick. If you begin to feel unwell, with a painful throat, stuffy nose, achy body, or any other symptom associated with a cold or flu, we have many more supplements that can kick your immune system into high gear and help alleviate your symptoms more quickly.
The essential supplements in our immune boosting treatment kit are vitamin D3, vitamin C, probiotics with Saccharomyces boulardii, Argentyn 23 Colloidal Silver, and melatonin. Depending on your symptoms, we recommend that you also consider beta-glucan, andrographis and mushroom extracts, n-acetyl cysteine (NAC), magnesium, fish oil, zinc, tocotrienols, liposomal glutathione, ImmunoThrive, Biocidin TS throat spray, and Mucostop.
Please note that all recommendations should be read with the understanding that they are recommendations to help strengthen one’s immune system and support the body in eliminating environmental toxins through natural means. Additionally, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a chronic health condition, it is important to check with your provider before adding or increasing the amounts of any vitamin, supplement, or immune-boosting product.
Vitamin D3, vitamin C, probiotics with Saccharomyces boulardii, beta-glucan, and melatonin are the five supplements that we include in the immune boosting prevention kit. They were discussed in great detail in our last article, so we will not repeat that information. You should definitely consider taking them if you feel sick.
Andrographis and Mushroom Extracts
Andrographis is a plant that has long been used in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese Medicine. Studies have found that it is effective at preventing and treating colds (1, 2, 3), may be effective in treating upper respiratory tract infections (4) and influenza (5, 6), and supports the immune system (7). It modulates the innate and adaptive immune responses by regulating the activation of macrophages and antibody production (8) and also has anti-inflammatory effects (9). Andrographis should NOT be taken if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Mushrooms have many different effects on the human body, depending on the species. Shiitake, reishi, maitake, fu-ling, cordyceps, turkey tail, and oyster mushrooms are the seven species that we recommend, as they all have been shown to support immune function (10).
N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
NAC is an amino acid that works as an antioxidant and expectorant. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and NAC replenishes glutathione in the lungs, helping to reduce inflammation (11). NAC helps thin mucus secretions, which makes it easier to breathe, improves lung function, and reduces the risk of developing infection (11, 12).
The body does make cysteine on its own, but you must consume enough vitamin B6, B12, and folate for it to do so. Protein-rich foods provide cysteine. Pork, chicken, beef, fish, eggs, yogurt, cheese, legumes, oatmeal, and sunflower seeds are excellent sources. If you do not get enough through dietary sources or are feeling poorly, it is helpful to supplement this important amino acid.
Glutathione is an antioxidant found in most cells and everyone benefits from maintaining proper amounts. It helps cellular detoxification (13), enhances natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity, and lymphocyte proliferation (14).
Asparagus, spinach, avocados, cabbage, and broccoli are good sources. Trizomal Glutathione is a supplement that contains a unique blend of acetyl glutathione, liposomal glutathione, and NAC to help support intracellular and antioxidant production and balance the immune system.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for the human body, and it plays a role in hundreds of functions and reactions. It supports the immune system (15), is essential for healthy bones (16), lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes (17), cardiovascular disease (18), and anxiety (19), and improves airway flow (20), just to name a few.
Keeping the rest of your body in optimal health will help guard against illness and allow your body to focus on fighting pathogens that you are exposed to. A healthy body allows your symptoms to be milder if you do fall ill. Since magnesium is vital to so many processes, including immune function, if you are deficient in magnesium your body can be weakened in a wide variety of ways, leaving you vulnerable to illness. Therefore, it is vital to consume the correct amounts of magnesium.
If you eat a balanced diet, you probably get enough magnesium. Spinach, cashews, almonds, peanuts and peanuts butter, soy milk, and black beans are all excellent sources. If you are ill or have dietary restrictions or a poor diet, you may need to take a magnesium supplement.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can decrease airway inflammation markers (21). Airway inflammation can be caused by illness, allergies, and many dietary and environmental influences. Just one single high-fat meal increases airway inflammation in healthy individuals but “omega-3 fatty acid supplementation via fish oil protects against [high-fat meal] associated changes in airway health (22).
If allergies or environmental or dietary factors have already created inflammation in your airways, then they are more likely to respond poorly to additional inflammation caused by exposure to a virus. Therefore, it is a good idea to consume healthy sources of omega 3 fatty acids or take a fish oil supplement, especially if you are experiencing respiratory symptoms.
Zinc is a vital nutrient for a healthy immune system (23). It is required for the normal functioning of white blood cells. Zinc induces the expression of antimicrobial peptides (24), is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory actions, and is crucial for normal development and function of cells mediating innate immunity. Additionally, supplementation decreases both oxidative stress markers and the generation of inflammatory cytokines (25).
Zinc supplementation reduces how often a person gets colds, shortens the duration of symptoms, and greatly reduces the severity of symptoms (26).
Unfortunately, many people have a zinc deficiency, and the elderly are even more likely to lack adequate amounts of this vital nutrient. We highly recommend that you take this supplement if you begin to feel unwell.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant. Tocotrienols are a specific form of vitamin E that prevents oxidation (27) and protects the integrity of the cell membrane (28). “Tocotrienols have a very broad range of medicinal properties and are used as an antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antipyretic, antithrombotic, anticancer, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, and nephroprotective” (29).
Dietary sources include palm oil, rice bran oil, grapefruit seed oil, oats, hazelnuts, maize, olive oil, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, rye, flaxseed oil, poppy seed oil, and sunflower oil. Tocotrienol supplements are also a great source.
ImmunoThrive contains moringa (30), pine bark (31), curry leaf (32), turmeric (33), and spirulina (34, 35). This blend provides inflammasome protection to the cell membrane, helps improve tissue oxygenation, and regulates the immune response. There is no need to take ImmunoThrive if you are healthy but can be helpful if you are not feeling well.
Biocidin TS Throat Spray
Biocidin soothes a sore throat with its immune-enhancing herbal blend of Bilberry extract, Noni extract, Milk Thistle, Echinacea Purpurea (extract) & Angustifolia, Goldenseal, Shiitake extract, White Willow Bark, Garlic, Grape Seed extract, Black Walnut (hull and leaf), Raspberry, Fumitory extract, Gentian, Tea Tree oil, Galbanum oil, Lavender oil, Oregano oil.
It does contain walnut, so do not use if you have a walnut allergy. Do not use while pregnant.
Mucostop contains a blend of 12 enzymes formulated to break down excess mucus in the sinuses and nasal cavities. It is all-natural and non-drowsy and can be used to break down mucus caused by illness or allergies.
Your body makes enzymes naturally, but many people benefit from supplementing specific enzymes. Enzymes catalyze nearly all reactions in a human body, including those of the immune system (Muco1). They also break down mucin, one of the main components of mucus. Their role in the immune system is so well documented that the FDA has approved the use of multiple enzymes to treat immune-related disorders (36).
Argentyn 23 Colloidal Silver
Various forms of silver have been proven effective in treating bacterial (37), fungal, and viral infections, preventing infection in wounds (38), improving cellular repair, and regenerating damaged tissue (39).
At TCIM, our patients have benefited when using silver nasal sprays for acute and chronic rhinitis and sinusitis, as well as quicker recovery from upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, and viral pneumonia when nebulizing silver. We do recommend not to nebulize for longer than 10 days.
If you would like more information about boosting your immune system, we highly recommend that you read the previous articles in this series, the 5 Pillars of Health, How the Immune System Works, 5 Goals to Strengthen Your Immune System, and Essential Immune Boosting Supplements.
You can also read this article for our recommendations on specific doses and reputable brands of each supplement for prevention or treatment for the average adult. Our bodies use more resources while fighting a pathogen, so most of the recommended supplement doses can safely be increased for a short time period while you are ill, but the higher dose should not be continued once you are well.
We would love to help you discover what supplements are right for you and how to incorporate vital nutrients into your diet. Please feel free to call us to make an appointment. If you just want to place an order through us, you can call the office or click here to order directly.
Jonathan Vellinga, M.D. is an Internal Medicine practitioner with a broad interest in medicine. He graduated Summa cum laude from Weber State University in Clinical Laboratory Sciences and completed his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Upon graduation from medical school, he completed his Internal Medicine residency at the University of Michigan. Dr. Vellinga is board-certified with the American Board of Internal Medicine and a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine.
1. Melchior, J et al. “Controlled clinical study of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract in common cold - a pilot trial.” Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology vol. 3,4 (1997): 315-8. doi:10.1016/S0944-7113(97)80002-5
2. Hancke J, Burgos R, Caceres D, Wikman G. A double-blind study with a new monodrug Kan Jang: Decrease of symptoms and improvement in recovery from common colds. Phytother Res 1995;9:559-62.
3. Cáceres, D D et al. “Use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to asses the effectiveness of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract SHA-10 in reducing the symptoms of common cold. A randomized double blind-placebo study.” Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology vol. 6,4 (1999): 217-23. doi:10.1016/S0944-7113(99)80012-9
4. Poolsup N, Suthisisang C, Prathanturarug S, et al. Andrographis paniculata in the symptomatic treatment of uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Clin Pharm Ther 2004;29:37-45
5. Ding Y, Chen L, Wu W, Yang J, Yang Z, Liu S. Andrographolide inhibits influenza A virus-induced inflammation in a murine model through NF-κB and JAK-STAT signaling pathway. Microbes Infect. 2017;19(12):605‐615. doi:10.1016/j.micinf.2017.08.009
6. Chen, Jian-Xin et al. “Activity of andrographolide and its derivatives against influenza virus in vivo and in vitro.” Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin vol. 32,8 (2009): 1385-91. doi:10.1248/bpb.32.1385
7. Okhuarobo, Agbonlahor et al. “Harnessing the medicinal properties of Andrographis paniculata for diseases and beyond: a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease vol. 4,3 (2014): 213–222. doi:10.1016/S2222-1808(14)60509-0
8. Wang, Wei et al. “Immunomodulatory activity of andrographolide on macrophage activation and specific antibody response.” Acta pharmacologica Sinica vol. 31,2 (2010): 191-201. doi:10.1038/aps.2009.205
9. Y.F. Xia, B.Q. Ye, Y.D. Li, J.G. Wang, X.J. He, X. Lin, et al. Andrographolide attenuates inflammation by inhibition of NF-kappa B activation through covalent modification of reduced cysteine 62 of p50. J Immunol, 173 (6) (2004), pp. 4207-4217
10. Lindequist, Ulrike et al. “The pharmacological potential of mushrooms.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2,3 (2005): 285-99. doi:10.1093/ecam/neh107
11. Mokhtari, Vida et al. “A Review on Various Uses of N-Acetyl Cysteine.” Cell journal vol. 19,1 (2017): 11-17. doi:10.22074/cellj.2016.4872
12. Dröge, W, and R Breitkreutz. “Glutathione and immune function.” The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society vol. 59,4 (2000): 595-600. doi:10.1017/s0029665100000847
13. Pizzorno, Joseph. “Glutathione!.” Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.) vol. 13,1 (2014): 8-12.
14. Sinha, R et al. “Oral supplementation with liposomal glutathione elevates body stores of glutathione and markers of immune function.” European journal of clinical nutrition vol. 72,1 (2018): 105-111. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2017.132
15. Tam, M et al. “Possible roles of magnesium on the immune system.” European journal of clinical nutrition vol. 57,10 (2003): 1193-7. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601689
16. Castiglioni, Sara et al. “Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions.” Nutrients vol. 5,8 3022-33. 31 Jul. 2013, doi:10.3390/nu5083022
17. Barbagallo, Mario, and Ligia J Dominguez. “Magnesium and type 2 diabetes.” World journal of diabetes vol. 6,10 (2015): 1152-7. doi:10.4239/wjd.v6.i10.1152
18. DiNicolantonio JJ, Liu J, O’Keefe JH. Magnesium for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Open Heart 2018;5:e000775. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2018-000775
19. Boyle, Neil Bernard et al. “The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review.” Nutrients vol. 9,5 429. 26 Apr. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9050429
20. Kazaks, Alexandra G et al. “Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on measures of airway resistance and subjective assessment of asthma control and quality of life in men and women with mild to moderate asthma: a randomized placebo controlled trial.” The Journal of asthma : official journal of the Association for the Care of Asthma vol. 47,1 (2010): 83-92. doi:10.3109/02770900903331127
21. Lundström, Susanna L et al. “Lipid mediator serum profiles in asthmatics significantly shift following dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids.” Molecular nutrition & food research vol. 57,8 (2013): 1378-89. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201200827
22. Ade, Carl J et al. “The effects of short-term fish oil supplementation on pulmonary function and airway inflammation following a high-fat meal.” European journal of applied physiology vol. 114,4 (2014): 675-82. doi:10.1007/s00421-013-2792-7
23. Haase, Hajo et al. “Correlation between zinc status and immune function in the elderly.” Biogerontology vol. 7,5-6 (2006): 421-8. doi:10.1007/s10522-006-9057-3
24. Wang, Guangshun. “Human antimicrobial peptides and proteins.” Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 7,5 545-94. 13 May. 2014, doi:10.3390/ph7050545
25. Prasad, Ananda S. “Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells.” Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.) vol. 14,5-6 (2008): 353-7. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad
26. Rao, Goutham, and Kate Rowland. “PURLs: Zinc for the common cold--not if, but when.” The Journal of family practice vol. 60,11 (2011): 669-71.
27. Newaz, M. A., Z. Yousefipour, N. Nawal, and N. Adeeb. 2003. “Nitric oxide synthase activity in blood vessels of spontaneously hypertensive rats: antioxidant protection by gamma-tocotrienol.” Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 54:319-27.
28. Palozza, P., S. Verdecchia, L. Avanzi, S. Vertuani, S. Serini, A. Iannone, S. Manfredini. 2006. “Comparative antioxidant activity of tocotrienols and the novelchromanyl-polyisoprenyl molecule FeAox-6 in isolated membranes and intact cells.” Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry 287(1-2):21-32.
29. Ahsan, H., Ahad, A., Iqbal, J. et al. Pharmacological potential of tocotrienols: a review. Nutr Metab (Lond) 11, 52 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-11-52
30. Bhattacharya A, Tiwari P, Sahu PK, Kumar S. A review of the phytochemical and pharmacological characteristics of Moringa oleifera. J Pharm Bioall Sci [serial online] 2018 [cited 2020 May 22]; 10:181-91. Available from: http://www.jpbsonline.org/text.asp?2018/10/4/181/245904
31. Sanders, Robert. "Pine Bark Extract Is a Potent Antioxidant, and May Help Boost the Effects of Vitamin C and Other Antioxidants, UC Berkeley Scientists Report." University of California, Berkeley Web. 22 May 2020.
32. Bhandari Prasan R. Curry leaf (Murraya koenigii) or Cure leaf: Review of its curative properties. Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals. vol. 1,2 (2012): 92-97