The Johnson & Johnson vaccine just got FDA EUA approval. Here is a summary of what we know so far.
I hope many of you had a thoughtful, restful, and safe Thanksgiving. Many people have travelled despite the warnings as they needed to care for loved ones that were alone and needed comfort or help with meals, or a ride to get home safely. Time, health, and longing to be with friends and family are especially hard on those among us aged 65 and older during this pandemic.
We’ve made many resources available over the past few months on how we can build immune resiliency in preparation for this flu season and worsening pandemic. Hopefully, in addition to the mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing you’ve been getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, exercising 30 minutes a day elevating your heart rate, and taking vitamins such has vitamin D. Some of you have gotten the recommended flu shot this fall. Yet, despite all these things, many of you may still succumb to a cold, the flu, or other viruses, hopefully not COVID.
In medicine we have prevention, then early treatment, and then if early treatment were unsuccessful more aggressive treatment (like hospitalization). Obviously building immune resiliency is a defensive strategy and a major in part in the prevention of disease or illness which if not done correctly would increase the risk for illness and the need for treatment. To quote Benjamin Franklin “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While many think he was addressing health he actually was addressing fire prevention in 1736 Philadelphia. This pandemic is like a spreading fire. We recently had terrible fire season in California and along the entire West Coast. The virus has spread in most cases like embers that are hardly noticeable carried by the wind and in some cases as a raging fire that is rapidly consuming its host and surroundings. Some plants such as grape vines can survive and slow the spread of the fire. Vines are green and full of water and with the amount of water they can hold in their tissue, they can have some protection in a hot environment. Other living plans like trees also have water of course, but there is a lot of underbrush and that is fuel for the fire. So the environment or milieu of the individual or the overall health where things like diabetes already causing organ dysfunction, or having the excess inflammation or “fuel” available for the fire or virus to act on, and the current immune state or resiliency which is a measure of the ability to resist the virus or embers to initiate the inflammatory cascade or fire is the ounce of prevention worth more than the monoclonal antibodies, steroids, or ventilators. Most of the blogs on our website has been focusing on building up the amount of protective “water” like optimizing the immune and mitochondrial functions, decreasing the underbrush like weight loss and detoxification, and protecting the essential organs with antioxidant supplements. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to view them.
Often times, at the first sign of a viral illness or a fire is an opportunity to be aggressive and boost the immune system or dash water on the slowly spreading embers. We’ve talked about vitamins, nutrients, and herbs that can optimize or boost the immune system. While they don’t “cure” illness in and of themselves and can’t necessarily overcome comorbid conditions such as diabetes, obesity or genetic variations such as auto antibodies to interferon (as we previously discussed), they can help your body get an early jump on the illness and perhaps shorten its course. An example is the Herpes virus causing cold sores where taking an antiviral medication or boosting your immune system within 24-48 hours can greatly shorten severity and length of the viral infection.
We’ve mentioned several supplements that we’ve formulated including Immune Defense, Virax, and Immuno Max that can be used as defensive measures, early in an acute infection, and chronically to help support the immune system.
Immune Defense includes a powerful combination of key nutrients and botanical extracts that provide support for immune challenges. This product boosts immune defenses by providing nutrients such as L-lysine vitamins A and C, pantothenic acid, B12, and zinc. This product includes the synergistic blend of botanical extracts black elderberry, astragalus, echinacea, and andrographis, all of which have been used traditionally for their clinically effective immune-modulating properties.
Our body’s immune system is a complex and dynamic defense system that comes to our rescue at the first sign of exposure to an outside invader. The dynamic nature of the immune system means that all factors that affect health need to be addressed in order for it to function at peak performance. The immune system is very sensitive to nutrient deficiencies. While vitamin deficiencies can compromise the immune system, consuming immune enhancing nutrients and botanicals can support and strengthen your body’s immune response. This product’s synergistic formula significantly boosts immune cell function including antibody response, natural killer (NK) cell activity, thymus hormone secretions, and T-cell activation. This product also helps soothe throat irritations and nasal secretions, and maintains normal inflammatory balance by increasing antioxidant levels throughout the body.
Immune Defense contains the synergistic nutrient blend of zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, L-lysine and pantothenic acid which each play a major role in maintaining a healthy, functioning immune system.
Zinc is a mineral that works synergistically with vitamin A in activating thymic factor, a thymus hormone with vital immune supporting properties. Maintaining optimal zinc levels also helps maintain helper T-cell lymphocyte function, NK cell activity, macrophage function, and antibody production.
Vitamin C is well known for its ability to support immune response. Vitamin C concentrations decline rapidly in the body during periods of stress. Dietary intake is therefore crucial during immune challenges. Vitamin C has been found to be helpful in supporting specific components of the immune system including NK cell activity and lymphocyte function. Vitamin C also provides antioxidant support by protecting cells against reactive oxygen species that are generated during normal inflammatory response.
Vitamin A helps support mucous membranes. When vitamin A is lacking, mucus-producing cells are replaced by keratin producing cells, and the membranes become tough and more vulnerable to organisms. Vitamin A is a critical immune supporting nutrient. Vitamin A also supports the immune system by stimulating white blood cell function and increasing antibody response.
L-lysine is an essential amino acid that cannot be synthesized in the body on its own. Lysine must be derived from protein sources in the diet in order for the body to function properly. Many biological functions require lysine including boosting immune defense. A study conducted in China examined the immunological effects of lysine. Of eighty-eight families included in the study, half received wheat flour fortified with 3 g of lysine per kilogram of flour, the other half received wheat flour without fortification. Those given the fortified flour showed improved immune function, versus the placebo group, specifically showing an increase of CD3 T-cells, IgG, IgA, and IgM.
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is a water-soluble B complex vitamin. D-calcium pantothenate is a heat stable form of B5. About 85% of pantothenic acid in food occurs as a component of coenzyme A (CoA). As a component of CoA, pantothenic acid is essential for the production of energy from carbohydrates, fats and protein. Maintaining optimal pantothenic acid levels is crucial for supporting immune system energy, thymic function and healthy white blood cell levels.
Black elderberry (Sambucas nigra) has a long history of traditional use among herbalists and is native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Western and Central Asia. Elderberry preparations range from expressed juice to syrup, tea decoction, powdered extract, and powdered extract in the form of lozenges or capsules. The bioactive components of elderberry include the flavonoid anthocyanin. This product is standardized to include black elderberry extract with 13% anthocyanins. Black elderberry preparations have also been shown to enhance immune cell killing potential by supporting healthy cytokine production, including IL-8 and IL-10, the cellular pathways used to eliminate foreign invaders.
Astragalus membranaceus is native to northern China and has been traditionally used to strengthen the immune system. The root of A. membranaceus is one of the two commonly used species in traditional Chinese medicine. Research has demonstrated the immune-regulating effects of astragalus which include boosting T-dependent antigens, and lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells and macrophage activity. Additional studies have demonstrated that A. membranaceus root extract supports immune response by boosting T3, T4and T4/T8 cell ratios.
Echinacea purpurea is a perennial herb that has been used for centuries in Native American medicine. Current research has supported echinacea’s clinical applications as this botanical has been the subject of more than 300 scientific studies. Echinacea activates multiple aspects of immune function including enhancing leukocyte and granulocyte counts, activating neutrophils, monocytes, and eosinophils and solubilizing immune complexes. Echinacea has been shown to compete with pathogens by blocking viral receptors on cell surfaces. Echinacea also diminishes hyaluronidase, a compound which increases connective tissue permeability and allows pathogenic organisms to become more invasive.
Andrographis paniculata is a plant that has been used in Asian medicine for centuries. Traditionally, the plant has been used as an infusion, decoction or powder, either alone or in combination with other herbal plants. In a study examining 158 patients, a standardized preparation of A. paniculata dried extract administered for five days significantly supported immune response while decreasing throat irritations and nasal secretions. An additional study examining the effects of A. paniculata found that andrographolide administration significantly improved CD4+ lymphocyte count in patients which immune challenges. A. paniculata has also been reported to provide strong antioxidant support due to its ability to activate highly protective antioxidant reactions including superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione-S-transferase.
The usual doseage of Immune Defense is 1-2 capsules a day a preventative defensive measure. It can be used however in an acute infection. As soon as you feel symptoms of for instance a cold, you may take 2 every hour for the next 6 hours which equates to 12 caps in 6 hours and then take 2 daily.
ViraX supports Healthy Immune and Respiratory Function, Supports Healthy Cytokine and Eicosanoid Balance and Designed as a Fast-Acting, Short-Term Formula.
ViraX features three herbs that have been used traditionally for immune support and stimulation. Contemporary research on these herbs— andrographis, licorice root, and indigowoad—confirms the wisdom of their historical use. All Functional Health’s ViraX formula may be especially helpful in supporting cytokine balance and respiratory function.
Herbs have been used to support health and well-being throughout history and across cultures and are the cornerstone of many ancient medical systems, including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). ViraX comprises three herbs that have been used traditionally and specifically to support the body’s immune system.
Andrographis Extract (Andrographis paniculata) Andrographis has been used widely in traditional medical systems as a bitter herb that works quickly to support upper respiratory health and immune response. TCM categorizes andrographis as “bitter” and “cold.” The herb has been used to support temperature regulation, respiratory health, immune function, and cytokine and eicosanoid balance.[1-4] A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study investigated the use of 1200 mg/ day (standardized to 4% andrographolides) in 158 adult patients. Results revealed that individuals receiving the herb had a significant improvement in several of the parameters measured when compared to placebo. A “high degree of effectiveness” was observed by day two of treatment.* Research on andrographolide, a major constituent of andrographis, suggests that this bioactive component supports immune activity in human cells by increasing proliferation of lymphocytes, production of interleukin-2, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and cluster of differentiation (CD) marker expression.[6,7] A phase I dose-escalating trial of andrographolide was conducted in a select group of individuals. A significant rise in mean CD4(+) lymphocytes was observed in individuals receiving 10 mg/kg andrographolide (p = 0.002). It was noted in the study that prolonged use of concentrated andrographolide may lead to dose-related (5-10 mg/kg) adverse effects for some individuals, a point that should be considered when calculating individual dosing. Acute toxicology studies in rodents noted no observed adverse effects at doses up to 5 g/ kg of andrographolide. Researchers did note significant increases in white blood cell and lymphocyte counts as well as a reduction in urea, suggesting that andrographolide had immune-stimulant and renal protective effects. Andrographolide is standardized to 50% in ViraX.* Licorice Root Extract (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Medicinal use of licorice dates back to ancient Greece, China, India, and Egypt. Contemporary research suggests that its active component glycyrrhizin supports the human immune system in the presence of pathogens.[10,11] A 2004 study found that glycyrrhizin more effectively supported immune function than other compounds studied (ribavirin, 6-azauridine, pyrazofurin, and mycophenolic acid). Research suggests that mechanisms of action for glycyrrhizin include induction of T-cell interferon-gamma and interference with the pathogen’s membrane.* Licorice also appears to play a role in maintaining a healthy mucous membrane (including that of the respiratory tract), stimulating mucus production, and supporting eicosanoid balance in the body. Long-term intake of high doses of glycyrrhizin may deplete potassium and exacerbate hypertension.[13,14] Although general dosing for standardized glycyrrhizin ranges from 40 to 360 mg per day,[10,13] and ViraX provides approximately 40 mg of standardized glycyrrhizin per twocapsule dose, short-term supplementation with ViraX is recommended.* Indigowoad 10:1 Root Extract (Isatis indigotica) Indigowoad is commonly used in TCM to support the immune system and upper respiratory tract. A closer look at the mechanism of action for indigowoad root extract in animals revealed that the extract significantly increased spleen weight as well as the number of circulating white blood cells, lymphocytes in particular. The same study found that the indigowoad extract stimulated macrophage phagocytic activity and reduced the suppressive effect that hydrocortisone has on the immune system. A human neutrophil cell study indicated that the isaindigotone derivative of I indigotica was able to scavenge superoxide free radicals and inhibit 5-lipoxygenase and leukotriene B(4) metabolism, ultimately supporting a healthy eicosanoid balance.*
The usual doseage is two capsules daily until the acute illness resolves. You should call your primary care physician if you have high blood pressure is not well controlled and not take this supplement until your blood pressure well controlled. It is not recommended for long term preventive use but rather a short term course. That being said, having a bottle of ViraX readily available at the first sign of illness is the most beneficial use especially around cold and flu season.
Immuno Max is aimed at providing the most potent immune supportive nutrients both on a daily basis as well as during acute immune stress.* Because these ingredients support the immune system’s ability to adapt and not simply upregulate immune function, those with hyperactive immune responses may also incorporate this formula, under a physician’s supervision, into their daily regimen. In other words, we can use Immuno Max in people with autoimmune issues as they will not necessarily have a flare of their symptoms like some of the other supplements but carefully monitoring is required.
Wellmune® Beta Glucan
The researched ingredients in Immuno Max include the yeast beta 1,3/ 1,6 glucan derived from the cell wall of a proprietary strain. Wellmune® is a clinically proven ingredient to support the functionality of the immune system. It has been studied for its effects on supporting healthy respiratory tract function and immune response after physical stress, such as exercise. This branded version of Beta glucan has also been found to play a support the balance of Th1/Th2 (Kirmaz, Bayrak, Yilmaz, & Yuksel, 2005).
Another ingredient in Immuno Max, Monolaurin, exhibits potent capabilities relative to microbial balance in the body (Lieberman, Enig, & Preuss, 2006). Researchers have found that Monolaurin can provide broad immune support (Lieberman, Enig, & Preuss, 2006), can support the body’s ability to adapt appropriately when in the presence of many gram positive bacteria (Peterson & Schlievert, 2006), and balance the presence of Candida albicans (Bergsson, Arnfinnsson, Steingrimsson, & Thormar, 2001). Monolaurin achieves this at the cellular level by incorporating itself into the cell membrane of gram-positive bacteria, supporting a healthy level of replication (Tokarskyy & Marshall, 2008).
Colostrum (yielding Immunoglobulin G)
Finally, Immuno Max contains colostrum. Colostrum supports immune system health through its content of transfer factors, peptide and protein complexes, that directly support immune capabilities.* Bovine colostrum also contains naturally occurring compounds, such as lactoferrin and imunnoglobulin G, which our healthy cells continually recruit and utilize to support the functionality of the immune system. These compounds also provide support to the immune system by working in the digestive system prior to foreign invaders even making it into the blood (Cesarone MR, et al., 2007).
The usual doseage is 2 capsules daily as a preventive or in acute infection.
Serving Size 2 Capsules
Amount Per Serving
Colostrum 500 mg
yielding Immunoglobulins (IgG) 200 mg
Monolaurin 300 mg
Bakers yeast beta glucan 250 mg
So I’ve given you information on 3 formulations. Let me highlight and summarize key similarities, differences, and when to use them. All three support immune system and may be used during an acute infection. Virax is by design mainly for acute infections as it is quick acting and meant to finish at the end of the illness. ImmuneDefense and Immuno Max may be used as a defensive preventative measure as well especially during cold and flu season or while traveling on an airplane, crowded bus, or train, etc. ImmuneDefense can be taken as a “bolus” or in an accelerated amount right at the start of an acute illness for about 6 to 24 hours. For people with uncontrolled high blood pressure, ViraX should be avoided while the other 2 would be fine. For people with autoimmune issues and fearing a possible flare with their immune systems receiving a boost, Immuno Max would be the best option as the Colostrum and Monolaurin help balance the immune system and make it work smarter and better not just amplified or increased (close monitoring of the autoimmune disease would be recommended of course).
As there have been many people with cold and flu symptoms and as the pandemic increases around us, I’ve decided to discount Immune Defense, Virax, and Immuno Max during this week by 20%. It’s technically not a cyber-Monday deal as we will be doing this all week long, but I hope you can take advantage of this opportunity to have some pharmaceutical grade nutrients and supplements for you to take as a preventative measure or to have on hand right at the start of any symptoms. Even if you chose not to take advantage of these offers I hope you at least will make time to view or share some of the information on our blog site. I’ve spent a lot of time making them so as many people as I can reach can benefit from the information.
Here is the link to purchase ViraX. ImmuneDefense and Immuno Max links will be updated here shortly or you may call the office for 20% off this week . Thank you for your patience.
If you want to learn about how functional medicine can help you with gut health, brain health, or immune health, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (925) 736-9828.
If you have comments, questions, or want to learn how functional medicine can help with improving your gut, maintaining brain health, and optimizing immune function call our office at (925) 736-9828 or email email@example.com.
Here are links for more information on: MitoMax for optimizing liver detoxification, immune function, cardiovascular function, and brain function; D3 & K2 drops, Omegas Complete , and B Supreme.
Take Care and Stay Healthy.
Jeffrey Mark, M.D.
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