Today more than ever, building a robust immune system that can fight off invaders is at the forefront of everyone's mind.
With 11 essential vitamins including Zinc, Ginger Extract, and Black Elderberry, and a comprehensive mushroom blend, Immune-AF is formulated to help your body fight off pathogens and sickness like a champ.
Backed by Science to Help Optimize:
Together, the ingredients in Immune-AF will help you recover faster and strengthen your health and well-being.
Here's what you're going to get:
Vitamin A (as Retinyl Palmitate): Vitamin A is the generic term for a group of fat-soluble compounds highly important for human health that are essential for many processes in your body, including maintaining healthy vision, ensuring the normal function of your immune system and organs, and aiding the proper growth and development of babies in the womb.
Here are 6 important health benefits of vitamin A:
1. Protects your eyes from night blindness and age-related decline. Vitamin A is essential for preserving your eyesight. The vitamin is needed to convert light that hits your eye into an electrical signal that can be sent to your brain. In fact, one of the first symptoms of vitamin A deficiency can be night blindness, known as nyctalopia.
2. May lower your risk of certain cancers. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow or divide in an uncontrolled way. As vitamin A plays an important role in the growth and development of your cells, its influence on cancer risk and role in cancer prevention is of keen interest to researchers. In observational studies, eating higher amounts of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene has been linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer, including Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as cervical, lung and bladder cancer
3. Supports a healthy immune system. Vitamin A plays a vital role in maintaining your body’s natural defenses. This includes the mucous barriers in your eyes, lungs, gut, and genitals which help trap bacteria and other infectious agents. It’s also involved in the production and function of white blood cells, which help capture and clear bacteria and other pathogens from your bloodstream. This means that a deficiency in vitamin A can increase your susceptibility to infections and delay your recovery when you get sick.
Vitamin A deficiency, in turn, impairs both the innate and adaptive immune response to infection. In particular, mucosal integrity and Th2-mediated responses are compromised. A prominent recent study showed that vitamin A supplementation after neonatal S. pneumoniae pneumonia inhibit the progression of asthma by altering CD4+T cell subsets. This provides a novel strategy for the prevention of allergic asthma induced by S. pneumoniae pneumonia.
Fig: Vitamin A supplement after neonatal S. pneumoniae pneumonia significantly reduced inflammatory cells infiltration during AAD. Total cells (A), neutrophils (B), eosinophils (C), macrophages (D) and lymphocyte (E) were counted from bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) collected 24 h after the final challenge. Control (mock-infected, non-allergic); OVA (mock-infected, allergic); S.pp/OVA (neonatal infected, allergic); S.pp+VA/OVA (vitamin A supplementary after neonatal infection, allergic). Data are shown as mean ± standard error from three separate experiments (n = 6–8 mice/group). *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, ***P < 0.001. Ref: Sci Rep. 2020 Mar 6;10(1):4214
4. Reduces your risk of acne. The exact role that vitamin A plays in the development and treatment of acne remains unclear. It has been suggested that vitamin A deficiency may increase your risk of developing acne, as it causes an overproduction of the protein keratin in your hair follicles. This would increase your risk of acne by making it more difficult for dead skin cells to be removed from hair follicles, leading to blockages.
5. Supports bone health. The key nutrients needed for maintaining healthy bones as you age are protein, calcium, and vitamin D. However, eating enough vitamin A is also necessary for proper bone growth and development, and a deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to poor bone health. In fact, people with lower blood levels of vitamin A are at a higher risk of bone fractures than people with healthy levels.
6. Promotes healthy growth and reproduction. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining a healthy reproductive system in both men and women, as well as ensuring the normal growth and development of embryos during pregnancy. Animal studies examining the importance of vitamin A in male reproduction have shown that a deficiency blocks the development of sperm cells, causing infertility. Likewise, animal studies have suggested that vitamin A deficiency in females can impact reproduction by reducing egg quality and affecting egg implantation in the womb.
B1 (as Thiamine Mononitrate): Thiamine is an essential nutrient that all tissues of the body need to function properly. It is involved heavily in glucose production. Thiamine was the first B vitamin that scientists discovered. This is why its name carries the number 1. Like the other B vitamins, thiamine is water-soluble and helps the body turn food into energy. You can find it in foods, individual supplements, and multivitamins. The body needs thiamine to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is a molecule that transports energy within cells.
A vitamin B1 deficiency has detrimental neurological effects linked to neuroinflammation, T cell infiltration, overexpression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, TNF-α, IL-6) and arachidonic acid products. This causes an immune response that can be harmful to neurons. The neurological damage caused by thiamin deficiency has a multifaceted aetiology which involves an increase in the production of free radicals and oxidative stress, damage of the axonal membranes and neuronal death.
B2 (as Riboflavin): Vitamin B2 refers to the molecule known as riboflavin, which is a vitamin because it can produce two cofactors abbreviated as FAD and FMN. Some proteins in the body are dependent on these cofactors to function optimally and dietary riboflavin is the sole provider of FAD and FMN for these enzymes, which are called flavoproteins since FAD and FMN are 'flavins' and work in concert with these proteins. Health benefits of Vitamin B2 include
Effects of riboflavin on pro-inflammatory TNF-α production in whole blood of different experimental groups.
B3 (as Niacinamide): Niacinamide is one form of vitamin B3 (niacin) that plays an important role in energy metabolism and cell health. Niacinamide is found primarily in animal-based products and is the preferred form of vitamin B3 for treating pellagra. Niacinamide may benefit those with certain skin conditions and reduce the risk of melanoma in high-risk individuals. It may also be useful for people with chronic kidney disease and, to a lesser extent, type 1 diabetes.
B5 (as D-calcium pantothenate): Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is involved in many different functions of the body. It helps convert food into energy and it also helps the body use proteins and fats. Vitamin B5 is important for the immune, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems. It is a precursor for coenzyme A (CoA), which many different enzymatic pathways in the body need.
Vitamin B5 is also needed for:
B6 (as Pyridoxine HCl): Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that your body needs for several functions. It’s significant to protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism and the creation of red blood cells and neurotransmitters. Your body cannot produce vitamin B6, so you must obtain it from foods or supplements. Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin B6 is important for optimal health and may even prevent and treat chronic diseases.
Vitamin B6 contributes to intestinal immune regulation through the metabolism of the lipid mediator sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P). S1P regulates lymphocyte trafficking into the intestines. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are also one of the body’s main types of immune cells. The immune system is a complex network of cells known as immune cells that include lymphocytes. These cells work together to defend the body against foreign substances, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells that can threaten its functioning.
B9 (as Folate): Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a water-soluble vitamin also known as vitamin B9. It does not occur naturally in food but is frequently added to supplements and refined grain products, such as bread and cereals. Since folic acid is different from natural folate, it must be converted into an active form before your body can use it. Adequate vitamin B9 levels have been linked to various health benefits, including:
The status of folic acid plays a major role in mood, depression and cognitive decline. Pre-treatment with folic acid of cultured human monocytes has been shown to inhibit homocysteine-induced NF-ΚB which in turn is an important factor in the gene regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Patients with megaloblastic anemia, which is a clinical form of folate deficiency, are shown to suffer impaired immune responses affecting largely cell-mediated immunity. This condition, however, can be reversed with supplementation of folic acid.
B12 (as Methylcobalamin): Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin that your body needs but cannot produce. It’s found naturally in animal products but also added to certain foods and available as an oral supplement or injection. Vitamin B12 has many roles in your body. It supports the normal function of your nerve cells and is needed for red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 may benefit your body in impressive ways, such as boosting your energy, improving your memory and helping prevent heart disease.
Natural Killer T cells are activated in response to interferons or macrophage-derived cytokines. They serve to contain viral infections while the adaptive immune response generates antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells that can clear the infection. Natural Killer T cells work to control viral infections by secreting IFNγ and TNFα.
Evidence from the research shows that vitamin B12 might play an important role in cellular immunity, especially relative to CD8+ cells and the Natural Killer cell system, which suggests effects on cytotoxic cells. The consensus from the scientific community is that vitamin B12 acts as an immunomodulator for cellular immunity.
Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid): Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses. It is an essential vitamin that can’t be produced by the body.
Vitamin C is conceivably the most popular supplement taken to protect against infection due to its important role in immune health.
This vitamin supports the function of various immune cells and enhances their ability to protect against infection. It’s also necessary for cellular death, which helps keep your immune system healthy by clearing out old cells and replacing them with new ones. The figure below walks through this process of how Vitamin C clears out old cells.
Fig. Role of vitamin C in phagocyte function. Vitamin C has been shown to: (a) enhance neutrophil migration in response to chemoattractants (chemotaxis), (b) enhance engulfment (phagocytosis) of microbes, and (c) stimulate reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and killing of microbes. (d) Vitamin C supports caspase-dependent apoptosis, enhancing uptake and clearance by macrophages, and inhibits necrosis, including NETosis, thus supporting resolution of the inflammatory response and attenuating tissue damage. Ref. Nutrients. 2017 Nov; 9(11): 1211.
In addition, vitamin C functions as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against damage induced by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can negatively affect immune health is linked to numerous diseases. Supplementing with vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold. A massive review of 29 studies in over 11,000 people demonstrated that regularly
supplementing with vitamin C reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children.
It’s been shown that high dose vitamin C treatment significantly improved symptoms in people with severe infections, including sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) resulting from viral infections. These results confirm that vitamin C supplements may significantly affect immune health, especially in those who don’t get enough of the vitamin through their diet. Supplementing with this nutrient may reduce the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold.
Vitamin D3 (as Cholecalciferol): Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient that is well known for its classic effects on calcium and bone homeostasis. Recent research shows that it is also essential to the health and functioning of your immune system. Vitamin D enhances the pathogen fighting effects of monocytes and macrophages — white blood cells that are important parts of your immune defense — and decreases inflammation, which helps promote immune response.
A deficiency in this vitamin may negatively affect immune function. In fact, low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections, including influenza and allergic asthma. It’s clear from the figure below that lower serum 25 (OH)D levels are associated with a significantly higher Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI). Indeed, the 25(OH)D-URTI association was consistent across all seasons (Fig below). Serum 25(OH)D levels had an inverse relationship with URTI.
Fig: Participants with recent upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) stratified by serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level (to convert to nanomoles per liter, multiply by 2.496) and season. Error bars represent standard errors of estimates. Ref: Arch Intern Med. 2009 Feb 23;169(4):384-90.
A recent review of randomized control studies in 11,321 people, supplementing with vitamin D significantly diminished the risk of respiratory infections in people lacking in this vitamin and lowered infection risk in those with adequate vitamin D levels. This suggests an overall protective effect. Other studies note that vitamin D supplements may improve response to antiviral treatments in people with certain infections, including hepatitis C and HIV.
A robust amount of evidence-based research shows that Vitamin D is essential for immune function. Healthy levels of this vitamin may help lower your risk of respiratory infections.
Fig: Decrease in serum viral load from weeks 8 to 24 in patients with the TG/GG genotypes randomized to the vitamin D and control groups. The decrease in viral load was significantly greater in the vitamin D than in the control group. Ref. J Viral Hepat. 2014 May;21(5):348-56.
Vitamin E (as Tocopheryl acetate): Vitamin E is a fat-soluble, essential nutrient with anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E helps support the immune system, cell function, and skin health. It’s an antioxidant, making it effective at combating the effects of free radicals produced by the metabolism of food and toxins in the environment. The most abundant ones in food are alpha- and gamma-tocopherol. Dietary antioxidants like vitamin E contribute to strong immunity and general wellness.
Vitamin E plays a big role in your immune response. It helps immune cells stay active while protecting them against oxidative stress. Vitamin E deficiency impairs immune defense, making the body more prone to infectious and chronic diseases. According to limited studies on older people, vitamin E intake may lower the risk of bacterial and viral infections. Scientists observed the same trend in lab animals.
Fig: Effect of vitamin E supplementation (800 mg/day for 30 days) on immune response of healthy older adults. *Significant changes from baseline at P < 0.05. DTH, delayed-type hypersensitivity response; LP, lymphocyte proliferation; IL-2, interleukin-2; PGE2, prostaglandin E2. Ref: Immunol Rev. 2005 Jun;205:269-84.
Vitamin E supports antioxidant and immune defense. It may increase resilience to infections in general, but we don’t know if it reduces the chance of catching coronavirus.
Zinc Gluconate: Zinc is considered an essential nutrient, meaning that your body can’t produce or store it. You need to get a constant supply through diet or supplementation. Zinc is required for numerous processes in your body, including gene expression, enzymatic reactions, immune function, protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, wound healing, and growth and development. It is commonly added to supplements and other healthcare products like lozenges that are meant to boost your immune system. This is because zinc is essential for immune system function. Zinc is needed for immune cell development and communication and plays an important role in inflammatory response.
A deficiency in this nutrient significantly affects your immune system’s ability to function properly. This results in an increased risk of infection and disease, including pneumonia. Numerous studies show that zinc supplements may protect against respiratory tract infections like the common cold.
It’s interesting to note that supplementing with zinc may be beneficial for those who are already sick. Recent data in from children with acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRIs), taking zinc day decreased the total duration of infection and the duration of the hospital stay by an average of 2 days, compared with a group not taking zinc. Supplementing with zinc has also been shown to reduce the duration of the common cold (see figure below)
Fig. Fractions of zinc and placebo groups reporting symptoms at various times after starting treatment, showing that zinc lozenges reduce duration of common colds. Ref. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1984 Jan;25(1):20-4.
The evidence is quite convincing that supplementing with zinc may help protect against respiratory tract infections and reduce the duration of these infections.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) mycelium: Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is a type of fungus that grows mainly on the bark of birch trees in cold climates, such as Northern Europe, Siberia, Russia, Korea, Northern Canada and Alaska.For centuries, chaga has been used as a traditional medicine in Russia and other Northern European countries, mainly to boost immunity and overall health.
Inflammation is a natural response of your immune system to help protect against disease. The problem comes from long-term inflammation which is linked to conditions like heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies suggest that chaga extract can positively impact immunity by reducing long-term inflammation and fighting harmful bacteria and viruses. Chaga extract works by promoting the formation of beneficial cytokines — specialized proteins that regulate the immune system — chaga stimulates white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off harmful bacteria or viruses. As a result, this mushroom could help fight infections — from minor colds to serious illnesses. Additionally, other animal and test-tube studies demonstrate that chaga can prevent the production of harmful cytokines, which trigger inflammation and are associated with disease.
TNF-α production in the serum of cyclophosphamide-treated mice after administration of the Chaga mushroom extract. Serum levels of IL-6 on days 8, 16, and 24 were analyzed using ELISAs for naive, PBS-, Chaga extract-treated mice. Data are expressed as means ± SEM of three mice. TNF-α, is a measure of inflammation. It’s clear that Chaga extract significantly reduced the level of TNF-α. Ref: Mycobiology. Y-R Kim. 2005 Sep; 33(3): 158–162
Cordyceps (C. Militaris) mycelium: Cordyceps is a genus of parasitic fungi that grows on the larvae of insects. Of the more than 400 species of Cordyceps discovered, two have become the focus of health research: Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris. A recent study in mice with tuberculosis, a serious bacterial disease, found that treatment with cordyceps significantly reduced bacterial load in the lungs, enhanced immune response, and reduced inflammation, compared with a placebo group.
Fig: Relative IFN-γ and IL-10 double-positive CD4+ cells in peripheral blood of infected mice after administration of PA-824, CS or the combination of both, measured by flow cytometry. CS: Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc.; IFN-γ: interferon-γ; IL-10: interleukin-10. *P<0.05, **P<0.01, compared to control (ANOVA). Ref: •Braz J Med Biol Res. 2017; 50(9): e6188.
In another recent study with 79 adults, supplementing with cordyceps mycelium culture extract led to a significant 38% increase in the activity of natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell that protects against infection.
Other benefits ofCordyceps, based on science are listed below:
Figure: Inhibition of LPS-induced NF-κB activation by Cordyceps extract. Ref: Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2003 Jul 1;190(1):1-8.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum s.l.) mycelium: The reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum and lingzhi, is a fungus that grows in various hot and humid locations in Asia. Within the mushroom, there are several molecules, including triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans, that may be responsible for its health effects. Below are 5 scientifically studied benefits of the reishi mushroom,
1. Boost the immune system: One of the most important effects of the reishi mushroom is that it can boost your immune system. Research has shown that reishi can affect the genes in white blood cells, which are critical parts of your immune system. What’s more, these studies have found that some forms of reishi may alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells.
Mitotic response of peripheral blood lymphocytes to phytohemagglutinin (PHA) at baseline and after 12-week treatment with G. lucidum polysaccharides in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. The data point is from at least three determinations. Ref: Int Immunopharmacol. 2006 Mar;6(3):499-508
Research in cancer patients has shown that some of the molecules found in the mushroom can increase the activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells. Natural killer cells fight infections and cancer in the body.
Another study found that reishi can increase the number of other white blood cells (lymphocytes) in those with colorectal cancer. Although most immune system benefits of reishi mushroom have been seen in those who are ill, some evidence has shown that it can help healthy people, too.
A recent study showed that Reishi improved lymphocyte function, which helps fight infections and cancer, in athletes exposed to stressful conditions.
2. Anti-cancer properties: Many people consume this fungus due to its potential cancer-fighting properties. Several test-tube studies have shown that it can lead to the death of cancer cells.These benefits included increasing the activity of the body’s white blood cells, which help fight cancer, and improving quality of life in cancer patients.
3. Could fight fatigue and depression: Reishi’s effects on the immune system are often most emphasized, but it has other potential advantages as well. These include reduced fatigue and depression, as well as improved quality of life. In addition; participants in this research also experienced less anxiety.
4. Heart health: Research shows that reishi mushroom may increase “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease triglycerides.
5. Blood sugar control: Several studies have indicated that molecules found in the reishi mushroom can decrease blood sugar in animals.
Figure:Glucose transporter protein 2 and 4 expression. Glucose transporter protein expression in normal and db/db mice after treatment for 8 weeks. (A) adipocyte GLUT4 expression; (B) skeletal GLUT4 expression; (C) hepatic GLUT2 expression. I to VI represent normal, diabetic control, diabetic treated with 75 mg/kg FYGL, diabetic treated with 250 mg/kg FYGL diabetic treated with 450 mg/kg FYGL and diabetic treated with 200 mg/kg metformin. Results are expressed as mean ± S.E.M., n = 10, *p<0.05 as compared to diabetic control and **p<0.01 as compared to diabetic control. Ref:PLoS One. 2013 Jul 11;8(7):e68332
Turkey Tails (Trametes versicolor) mycelium: One of the most prominent medicinal mushrooms is Trametes versicolor. Commonly called turkey tail due to its striking colors, Trametes versicolor has been used extensively around the world for centuries to treat various conditions. Perhaps the most impressive quality of the turkey tail mushroom is its ability to enhance the health of your immune system.
Here are 5 immune-boosting benefits of the turkey tail mushroom:
1. Packed With Antioxidants:Antioxidants are compounds that help inhibit or reduce damage caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress results from an imbalance between antioxidants and unstable molecules known as free radicals. This imbalance can potentially result in cellular damage and chronic inflammation. In addition, this imbalance has also been linked to an increased risk of developing health conditions, such as certain cancers and heart disease.
Turkey tail contains an impressive array of antioxidants, including phenols and flavonoids. A well-controlled study detected over 35 different phenolic compounds in a sample of turkey tail mushroom extract, along with the flavonoid antioxidants quercetin and baicalein. Phenol and flavonoid antioxidants stimulate immune system health by diminishing inflammation and stimulating the release of protective compounds.
2. Contains Immune-Boosting Polysaccharopeptides:Polysaccharopeptides are protein-bound polysaccharides (carbohydrates) that are found in, for example, turkey tail mushroom extract. Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP) are two types of polysaccharopeptides found in turkey tails.
Both PSK and PSP possess powerful immune-boosting properties. They promote immune response by both activating and inhibiting specific types of immune cells and by suppressing inflammation. The figure below from a published study shows the increased expression of PHA, a well-known mitogen for T cells. This increased expression may be the result of indirect stimulation via T cells. A type of white blood cell that is of key importance to the immune system and is at the core of adaptive immunity, the system that tailors the body's immune response to specific pathogens.
Figure: The distribution of NK cells after incubation with different doses of W (1, 3, 10, and 100 μg/ml). The percentage of NK cells were analysed by staining for CD56+ and CD3−. The results were one representative of five independent experiments. (e) The percentages of B cells were analysed by staining for CD19 expression after incubation with different doses of W (1, 3, 10, and 100 μg/ml). The results were one representative of five independent experiments.∗p < 0.05,∗∗p < 0.01 compared to the untreated PBMC control. Ref: Food Chem. 2013 Jun 15;138(4):2201-9
3. May Improve Immune Function in People With Certain Cancers: Research has demonstrated that turkey tail mushrooms may have antitumor properties, thought to be related to its immune-boosting effects. A certain type of polysaccharide found in turkey tail mushrooms called Coriolus versicolor glucan (CVG) may suppress certain tumors. Researchers attributed this development to enhanced immune response.
4.May Enhance the Efficacy of Certain Cancer Treatments: Due to the many beneficial compounds it contains, turkey tail is commonly used in tandem with traditional treatments like chemotherapy as a natural way to fight certain cancers. A review of high impact research studies found that patients given 1–3.6 grams of turkey tail mushroom per day along with conventional treatment had a significant survival advantage.
5. May Enhance Gut Health: Keeping a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut is critical for maintaining a strong immune system. Your gut bacteria interact with immune cells and directly impact your immune response.Turkey tail contains prebiotics, which help nourish these helpful bacteria. Research demonstrated thatturkey tail extract modified gut bacteria composition by increasing populations of beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus while reducing potentially harmful bacteria, such as Clostridium and Staphylococcus. The figure below demonstrates results from a recent study that Polysaccharopeptide (PSP); which is a protein-bound polysaccharide extracted from the mycelia of Trametes versicolor. PSP led to clear and consistent microbiome changes consistent with its activity as a prebiotic.
Ref: Gut Microbes. 2014 Jul 1;5(4):458-67
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) mycelium: Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most popular mushrooms worldwide. Compounds in shiitake may help fight cancer, boost immunity, and support heart health. Shiitake mushrooms have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. Studies suggest that some of the bioactive compounds in shiitake may protect against cancer and inflammation.
Shiitake may also help strengthen your immune system. One study gave people two dried shiitake daily. After one month, their immune markers improved and their inflammation levels dropped. This immune effect might be partly due to one of the polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms. While people’s immune systems tend to weaken with age, a mouse study found that a supplement derived from shiitake helped reverse some age-related decline in immune function.
Fig. Secretion of cytokines and SIgA in mice. Data are presented as mean ± SD (n = 7). *p < 0.05 Ref: Food Funct. 2015 Jun;6(6):2068-80
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) mycelium: Lion’s mane mushrooms contain bioactive substances that have beneficial effects on the body, especially the brain, heart, and gut.
Here are 9 health benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms and their extracts.
1. Could protect against dementia: Lion’s mane mushrooms contain compounds that stimulate the growth of brain cells and protect them from damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. However, more human research is needed.
2. Helps relieve mild symptoms of depression and anxiety: Studies suggest that lion’s mane mushrooms may help relieve mild symptoms of anxiety and depression, but more human research is needed to better understand the correlation.
3. May speed recovery from nervous system injuries: Rat studies have found that lion’s mane extract can speed up recovery time from nervous system injuries, but human research is lacking.
4. Protects against ulcers in the digestive tract: Lion’s mane extract has been shown to protect against stomach and intestinal ulcers in rodents, but human research has been conflicting
5. Reduces heart disease risk: Animal and test-tube studies suggest that lion’s mane extract can reduce the risk of heart disease in several ways, but human studies are needed to confirm these findings.
6. Helps manage diabetes symptoms: Lion’s mane mushroom can help lower blood sugar and reduce diabetic nerve pain in mice, but more studies are needed to determine whether it might be a good therapeutic option in humans.
7. May help fight cancer: Animal and test-tube studies show that lion’s mane extract can kill cancer cells and slow the spread of tumors, but human studies are still needed.
8. Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress: Lion’s mane mushroom contains powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help reduce the impact of chronic illness.
9. Boosts the Immune System: A strong immune system protects the body from bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing pathogens. On the other hand, a weak immune system puts the body at a higher risk of developing infectious diseases.
Animal research shows that lion’s mane mushroom can boost immunity by increasing the activity of the intestinal immune system, which protects the body from pathogens that enter the gut through the mouth or nose. These effects may partly be due to beneficial changes in gut bacteria that stimulate the immune system.
A recent study even found that supplementing with lion’s mane extract daily nearly quadrupled the lifespan of mice injected with a lethal dose of salmonella bacteria.
As demonstrated in the figure below; the immune response of mice induced immunotoxicity was monitored to further understand the immunomodulatory activity of the protein extracted from Hericium Erinaceus. All the immune indexes, including thymus and spleen index, platelet and white blood cell neutral red engulfment and splenocyte proliferation, were enhanced compared with the CTX group only.
All the mentioned parameters were activated compared with the high-dose CTX, indicating that HEHericium erinaceus could activate the T cells. The results of the present study showed that theHericium erinaceus could reverse the high-dose cyclophosphamide-induced immunotoxicity in mice.
Fig: Effect of HEP3 on the cyclophosphamide-induced immunotoxicity mice. Body weight changes (A), thymus index (B), and spleen index (C), neutral red engulfment (D), splenocyte proliferation (E), platelet (F), and white blood cell (G), the tissue structure of the spleen (H), the CD3+ (I), CD4+/CD8 (J), CD4+ (L), CD8+ (M), CD28+/CD8 (K), and naive T cells (N). CT is the control group treated with just vehicle, CTX is the cyclophosphamide-induced group (intraperitoneal injection of 80 mg/kg) group, HEP3-D is the group treated with 100 mg/kg HEP3 and intraperitoneal injection of 80 mg/kg cyclophosphamide, and HEP3-G is the group treated with 200 mg/kg HEP3 and intraperitoneal injection of 80 mg/kg cyclophosphamide. Values were means ± SDs of six independent experiments. #P < 0.05 vs the control group, *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01 vs the CTX, indicating significant differences. Ref: Front Immunol. 2017 Jun 12;8:666
Maitake (Grifola Frondosa) mycelium: This mushroom is a type of adaptogen. Adaptogens assist the body in fighting against any type of mental or physical difficulty. They also work to regulate systems of the body that have become unbalanced.
Laboratory research suggests that maitake may be effective in treating certain illnesses. More studies are needed to confirm its effect on humans, but the current findings are promising.
Cancer: A recent study that maitake D-Fraction could be useful in preventing and treating breast cancer. Researchers suggest that this mushroom can fight the growth and reproduction of cancerous cells. Maitake mushroom has been shown to suppress tumor growth in mice. It can also increase the number of cells fighting against the tumor. This suggests that it could also be effective in managing cancer in humans when taken orally.
Figure: Orally administered MD‐Fraction inhibits tumor growth. Mice were s.c. inoculated with MM‐46 or colon‐26 cells. MD‐Fraction was orally administered to the mice 1 day after tumor inoculation, and the tumor growth was measured (n=3–6). The data presented are representative of three independent experiments. Ref: Int J Cancer. 2013 Jul;133(1):108-19
Cholesterol: Researchers in a 2013 study found that maitake powdered extract lowered cholesterol levels in mice. It was also shown to increase fatty acids that provide energy. Because of this, researchers theorized that eating maitake mushroom may help keep arteries healthy.
Type 2 Diabetes: A recent study showed that maitake mushroom can have a positive effect on rats with type 2 diabetes. During the study, maitake mushroom consumption had a positive effect on glucose levels of rats. This points to the mushroom’s potential to treat type 2 diabetes in humans.
Maitake mushroom may also be useful in treating:
Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) mycelium: The oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) is a delicious edible mushroom that resembles an oyster in shape and is commonly sought after by mushroom hunters. Oyster mushrooms have thick, white, mild-tasting flesh that contains a variety of nutrients.
They are particularly high in B vitamins, including niacin (B3) and riboflavin (B2), as well as the minerals potassium, copper, iron, and zinc. These vitamins and minerals already have powerful immune-enhancing properties as described above.
They also contain powerful anti-inflammatory plant compounds, including triterpenoids, glycoproteins, and lectins, which may offer some protection against chronic disease. For example, test-tube research shows that oyster mushrooms have properties that help fight prostate, colon, and breast cancer cells.
Fig: P. ostreatus induces cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase. (A) MCF-7, (B) HT-29 cells were treated with P. ostreatus (1.0 mg/ml) for 0, 24 and 48 h, and cell cycle distribution was evaluated by flow cytometry as described in Materials and methods. Data are the mean ± SD of triplicate determinations. Ref:Int J Oncol. 2008 Dec; 33(6): 1307–1313.
Agarikon (Fomitopsis officinalis) mycelium:Fomitopsis officinalis is a polyporoid fungus recognized as medicinal for millennia all over its distribution range, particularly against pulmonary diseases. Bioactive molecules have been recently isolated from this fungus and proved to show remarkable antimicrobial effect.
A rich literature consistently confirms the existence of antimicrobial properties by F. officinalis, namely as antiviral, antibacterial and trypanocidal. Such activity has been specifically recognised in a few molecules, e.g. coumarines as antibacterial and lanostane triterpenoids as trypanocidal.
The figure below shows bioactive secondary metabolites isolated from polypore species within the triterpenoids chemical class.
Fig: Evaluation of number of bioactive secondary metabolites isolated from the five selected polypore species within respective chemical class. Reported bioactive properties are differentiated in various shades of grey. Ref: J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Jul 3;154(3):564-83
Ginger Extract (5% Gingerols): Ginger is a spice originated from the rhizomes of the plant Zingiber officinale. It is commonly used in many Asian, Ayurvedic, and middle eastern dishes. Ginger use dates back to 3,000 years ago in India. It’s been used for thousands of years as a remedy for diverse health issues, such as colds, nausea, pain, arthritis, migraines, and high blood pressure.
Gingerols are the major compounds in fresh ginger and less so in dry ginger. Shogaols are produced from gingerols during the drying process and are present in higher amounts in dried ginger. Ginger also contains zingerone, zerumbone, pungent oleoresins, some terpenoids, and flavonoids.
All of these compounds are antioxidants, while some of them have anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, antimicrobial, and liver-protecting activities. However, these properties were only investigated in cell-based studies.
European Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) (berry) (**(a 4.7.1 Concentrate)(Equivalent to 1,250mg of Elderberry): Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra), which has long been used to treat infections, is being researched for its effects on immune health. Research has demonstrated that elderberry extract shows potent anti-bacterial and antiviral potential against bacterial pathogens responsible for upper respiratory tract infections and strains of influenza virus.
Fig: Effect of the elderberry extract on bacterial growth. Visualization of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial strains exposed to different concentrations of Rubini elderberry extract during growth in liquid culture. Every biological experiment was independently repeated at least three times with two replicates per trial. Standard deviation is indicated. The p < 0.05 was observed for all bacterial species tested. Ref: BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011; 11: 16.
Fig: Effect of elderberry supplementation on the prevalence of Respiratory Disease Symptom positive (RDS+) participants. Ref: Nutrients. 2016 Mar 24;8(4):182
A recent meta-analysis (i.e. review of well controlled studies) demonstrated that elderberry supplements significantly reduced upper respiratory symptoms caused by viral infections.
It’s clear from the scientific research that supplementation with elderberry extract is significantly effective at reducing the total duration and severity of upper respiratory symptoms. The effect of elderberry supplementation is larger among cases of the flu than the common cold, but supplementation successfully reduces the symptoms regardless of underlying cause.
These findings present an alternative to antibiotic misuse for upper respiratory symptoms due to viral infections, and a potentially safer alternative to prescription drugs for routine cases of the common cold and influenza.
Andrographis Extract (Andrographis paniculate) (std to 98% Andrographolides). Andrographis Paniculata, known as the “King of Bitters,” is traditionally used in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine. People historically used it for the common cold, sinus infections, general inflammation, pain, and detoxification.
Andrographis contains three major categories of active compounds: diterpenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols. Andrographolide (a diterpenoid) is the most bioactive and most extensively studied compound. The leaves are traditionally used more than the rest of the plant and contain anywhere from 0.5% and 6% Andrographolide content. Andrographolide reduced free radical formation (superoxide and nitric oxide) in mice, suggesting it has antioxidant properties.
Health Benefits of Andrographis
1. The Common Cold: A specific andrographis extract possibly improves symptoms of the common cold when taken within 72 hours of feeling sick.
2. Fever & Sore Throat from Tonsilitis: Andrographis (6 grams daily) may be comparable to acetaminophen (Tylenol) for reducing fever and sore throat associated with pharyngotonsillitis after 3 and 7 days of supplementation.
3. IBD (Ulcerative Colitis): Andrographis possibly improves symptoms of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Proponents for using Andrographis
Another active compound of Andrographis is andrographolide which is a terpenoid compound found to have antiviral effects against respiratory disease-causing viruses, including enterovirus D68 and influenza A. The figure 1C below basically shows that andrographolide can decrease viral RNA replication in cells treated with Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). EV-D68 has emerged as a significant respiratory pathogen that can cause severe respiratory disease and acute neurologic disease.
Fig:Andrographolide inhibits EV-D68 replication. (A) Structure of andrographolide (ADO; molecular formula: C20H30O5). (B) RD cells were pre-treated with ADO or DMSO vehicle before infection or mock-infection with EV-D68 virus. The cells were incubated under standard conditions. Cytopathic effects (CPEs) were observed 48 h post-infection. (C) qRT-PCR assessment of EV-D68 RNA replication. (D) Determination of progeny viron production. Supernatants were collected 48 h post-infection and viral titers were determined by standard plaque assay. (E) Effect of ADO on EV-D68 RNA replication (EC50 =∼3.45 μM). (F) Cell viability assay. Cellular toxicity was evaluated by MTS assay and is expressed as the percentage relative to DMSO vehicle-treated control cells. Experiments were performed in triplicate. (G) RD cells were pretreated the same way as cells in (B), then the cells were infected or mock-infected with EV-D68 virus at an MOI of 1 and 5. CPEs were observed 24 h post-infection. Error bars indicate the standard deviation (∗P < 0.05;∗∗P < 0.01;∗∗∗P < 0.001). Ref: Front Microbiol. 2018; 9: 2407
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