Who’s Afraid of Cold and Flu Season? Not NYBC!

As the days get shorter and we approach the end of October, here in the Northern Hemisphere many worry about the Cold and Flu Season. Colds and flus aren’t fun for anyone, and people with compromised immune systems may be especially vulnerable. Here are some recommendations from NYBC, both in the prevention department and in the symptom alleviation department. Using these supplements, we believe, can make the Cold and Flu Season a lot less scary!

Vitamin D. According to some recent thinking, the “cold and flu season” may actually be the “Vitamin D deficiency season.” As the days grow shorter, people get less sunshine, leading to a decline in the body’s levels of this vitamin, which is essential to good health in many more ways than we used to think. Taking Vitamin D during the winter may therefore be one of the most effective ways to prevent colds and flu. Many researchers who’ve studied Vitamin D now recommend at least 2000 IU/day, but those with a known deficiency may be advised to supplement at even higher levels. There’s a simple test available to check for Vitamin D deficiency – ask your doctor.

Cold Away. This blend of Chinese herbs from Health Concerns is designed to “clear external heat and alleviate symptoms of the common cold.” A key component of this formula is the herb andrographis, which in several recent US studies was found to significantly decrease cold symptoms and the duration of a cold; it may also be useful for prevention. (NYBC stocks over 20 varieties of Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas, by the way.)

Vitamin C. Many good studies have shown a decrease in cold symptom duration, but no benefit for prevention. According to a guide to natural products published by the American Pharmacists’ Association in 2006, taking between one and three grams of Vitamin C per day may decrease cold symptoms (sore throat, fatigue, runny nose) by one to 1½ days.*

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) supports respiratory and immune system function. It has been studied extensively for chronic bronchitis. NAC is also the antidote for acetaminophen poisoning, now the leading cause of liver disease in the US. (Acetaminophen’s best-known tradename is Tylenol®, but it’s also found in many other drugs, so it’s become all too easy to overdose–especially when you’re fighting cold or flu symptoms.)

One popular way to take NAC is to use PharmaNAC, notable for its careful quality control, pleasant “wildberry” flavor, and effervescent fizz!

Botanicals. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus is used for chronic respiratory infections, for colds and flu (both prevention and treatment) and for stress and fatigue. It contains complex sugar molecules called polysaccharides, which some studies show stimulate virus-fighting cells in the immune system. Researchers at the University of Texas and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have turned up evidence that astragalus boosts immune responses in lab animals, and in human cells in lab dishes.

Probiotics. They say the best defense is a good offense, so consider upping your intake of the beneficial bacteria found naturally in such things as kefir (the lightly fermented milk beverage) and yogurt: they boost the flora in your intestinal tract, which is where an estimated 80% your immune system resides. Also note that NYBC stocks several varieties of probiotic supplements, including Jarrow’s Ultra Jarro-Dophilus, which has helped many maintain healthy digestive function, always a key to getting proper nutrition into your system and thus supporting immune strength.

And this just in: See posts on this blog for Beta Glucan, which, according to very recent research reports, may be of substantial benefit for fighting colds.

*Natural Products: A Case-Based Approach for Health Care Professionals, ed. Karen Shapiro. Washington, DC: American Pharmacists’ Assoc. (2006), “Cold and Flu,” pp. 173-192.

What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet for Cold & Flu Season?

Here are some recommended supplements great for cold and flu season that have been the subject of recent, good research.

Vitamin D.  According to some recent thinking, the “cold and flu season” may actually be the “Vitamin D deficiency season.” As the days grow shorter, people get less sunshine, leading to a decline in the body’s levels of this vitamin, which is essential to good health in many more ways than we used to think. Taking Vitamin D during the winter may therefore be one of the most effective ways to prevent colds and flu. Many researchers who’ve studied Vitamin D now recommend at least 1000 IU/day, but those with a known deficiency may be advised to supplement at even higher levels. There’s a simple test available to check for Vitamin D deficiency – ask your doctor.

Cold Away. This blend of Chinese herbs from Health Concerns is designed to “clear external heat and alleviate symptoms of the common cold.” A key component of this formula is the herb andrographis, which in several recent US studies was found to significantly decrease cold symptoms and the duration of a cold; it may also be useful for prevention. (NYBC stocks  over 20 varieties of Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas, by the way.)

Vitamin C.  Many good studies have shown a decrease in cold symptom duration, but no benefit for prevention.  According to a guide to natural products published by the American Pharmacists’ Association in 2006, taking  between  one  and  three grams of Vitamin C per day may decrease cold symptoms (sore throat, fatigue, runny nose) by one to 1½ days.*

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) supports respiratory and immune system function. It has been studied extensively for chronic bronchitis. NAC is also the antidote for acetaminophen poisoning, now the leading cause of liver disease in the US. (Acetaminophen’s best-known tradename is Tylenol®, but it’s also found in many other drugs, so it’s become all too easy to overdose.)

One popular way to take NAC is to use PharmaNAC, notable for its careful quality control, pleasant “wildberry” flavor, and effervescent fizz!

Botanicals.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus is used for chronic respiratory infections, for colds and flu (both prevention and treatment) and for stress and fatigue. It contains complex sugar molecules called polysaccharides, which some studies show stimulate virus-fighting cells in the immune system. Researchers at the University of Texas and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have turned up convincing evidence that astragalus boosts immune responses in lab animals, and in human cells in lab dishes.

Elderberry extract (as found in Jarrow Formulas’ Wellness Optimizer) and American ginseng (found in two Health Concerns formulas) are two other botanicals that have been studied for cold and flu symptoms in recent North American research, with some promising results. Also, a study conducted by Israeli scientists showed that elderberry extract suppressed the growth of influenza viruses in lab dishes. The same research team reported that patients given the extract recovered from the flu faster. The perennially popular echinacea, however, has generally disappointed in cold prevention studies, but is still touted by some as beneficial at the onset of a cold.

Probiotics. They say the best defense is a good offense, so consider upping your intake of the beneficial bacteria found naturally in such things as kefir (the lightly fermented milk beverage) and yogurt: they boost the flora in your intestinal tract, which is where an estimated 80% your immune system resides.

NYBC stocks eight varieties of probiotic supplements, ranging from Florastor capsules, a favorite of international travelers, to the 40 billion beneficial baceteria-per-capsule Ultra Jarro-Dophilus, to Green Vibrance, a powder added to fruit juice or another beverage of choice (complimentary shaker cup included!).

*Natural Products: A Case-Based Approach for Health Care Professionals, ed. Karen Shapiro. Washington, DC: American Pharmacists’ Assoc. (2006), “Cold and Flu,” pp. 173-192.

PharmaNAC: Phase II trials for cystic fibrosis

Some may know that Stanford University researchers have been running Phase II clinical trials on PharmaNAC (an effervescent N-acetylcysteine tablet especially manufactured to maintain high potency) for cystic fibrosis. While a Phase I clinical trial is meant to assess just the safety of a drug, Phase II trials move on to look at the best dosage and how effective the drug is for a given condition.

In particular, a Phase IIA trial is generally designed to assess dosing requirements, while a Phase IIB trial seeks to measure efficacy (how well the drug works at various prescribed doses).

The Stanford research, supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and by federal funding, has already concluded the Phase IIA study. In the words of a study report, this phase of the research “demonstrates excellent safety and tolerability of 0.9g tid oral PharmaNAC in Cystic Fibrosis patients and suggests real anti-inflammatory effects.” (That’s 3 tablets a day of PharmaNAC, which is 900mg or .9g per tablet.)

A scientific presentation of the Phase IIA results was accessed by us at:

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/47758049/Cystic-fibrosis-(mucoviscidosis)

The Stanford team is now (Spring 2011) concluding the Phase IIB clinical trial. This is a multi-center trial, so there are groups of participants in a number of states:

http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT00809094

You can read more about PharmaNAC, and purchase through NYBC’s nonprofit co-op at:

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?products_id=258

NAC for respiratory/lung support

The Bastyr Institute, which is the largest natural health clinic in the Northwest US, provides a number of good information sheets about supplements on its website. Here is an excerpt from Bastyr’s review of evidence about the use of NAC (N-acetylcysteine) for respiratory/lung support. The studies mentioned are all quite recent, within the last 10 years, and are large enough and well-designed enough to point to a substantial benefit for those with lung conditions.

Many have noted that, since NAC is readily subject to oxidation, it’s important to find a format that is carefully quality controlled and carefully packaged to obtain the most benefit from supplementation. That’s the case with PharmaNAC, which has consistently been one of the best selling supplements at NYBC’s nonprofit buyers’ co-op. (Please follow link for more details.)

N-Acetylcysteine Beneficial for Chronic Lung Disease

Supplementing with N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) can reduce the need for hospitalization among people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study in the European Respiratory Journal (2003;21:795–8). The findings of this study provide new hope for individuals suffering from this incurable and often debilitating disease.

COPD is a common condition that consists of a combination of chronic bronchitis (inflammation of the airways) and emphysema (damage to, or destruction of, lung tissue). Symptoms include weakness, shortness of breath, weight loss, and recurrent lung infections. People with advanced disease frequently require supplemental oxygen and have great difficulty performing activities of daily living. Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory drugs, medications that dilate the bronchial passages, and antibiotics to treat infections.

NAC is a compound that is converted by the body into the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine. […] NAC also can break up trapped mucus and enhance its clearance from the bronchial passages, thereby improving the flow of air in and out of the lungs in people with COPD. In addition, NAC is the precursor of glutathione, one of the major antioxidants in lung tissue. Although the mucus-clearing effect of NAC occurs mainly when the compound is administered by inhalation, oral NAC has repeatedly been shown to prevent flare-ups in people with chronic bronchitis.

In the new study, 1,219 people who had been hospitalized for COPD were observed for an average of nine months after they were discharged from the hospital. Those who were prescribed NAC were approximately one-third less likely to be readmitted to the hospital, compared with those who were not given NAC. The risk of hospitalization decreased with increasing doses of NAC. Excluding those who were prescribed less than 400 mg per day, treatment with NAC was associated with an 85% reduction in the rate of readmission.

[…] Long-term use of NAC has the potential to increase the requirement for zinc and copper. Some doctors, therefore, advise people who are taking NAC also to take a multivitamin-mineral preparation that provides approximately 15 mg of zinc and 2 mg of copper per day.

Source: http://bastyrcenter.org/content/view/1007/

PharmaNAC at NYBC

PharmaNAC, an effervescent tablet formulation of NAC (N-acetylcysteine), has been available from the New York Buyers Club for several years. We are pleased to offer this formulation, both because it’s a high quality preparation with careful manufacturing controls and protective packaging, and because ongoing research on NAC has continued to point to its usefulness in many fields, from respiratory and immune system support to serving as an antidote to acetaminophen (common tradename: Tylenol) overdose.

Here are some product details from the manufacturer:

N-acetylcysteine or “NAC” for short, is a derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine, which is an essential precursor used by the body to produce glutathione. Glutathione is an important and powerful antioxidant produced by the body to help protect against free radical damage, and is a critical factor in supporting a healthy immune system.

PharmaNAC:
• Certified European Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) grade NAC.
• Effective way to help boost glutathione levels.
• Effervescent, quick-dissolving tablets allow NAC to enter cells readily, ensuring rapid absorption.
• Quality controlled according to pharmaceutical guidelines.
• Compliant to the standards of European Pharmacopoeia and United States Pharmacopoeia.
• Individually wrapped tablets in a 4-layer (paper/plastic/foil plastic) air-tight material to prevent moisture and air from degrading the NAC (a major problem with most other over the counter NAC).

For information on purchasing, see the NYBC entry at

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?products_id=258

PharmaNAC study: cystic fibrosis

A phase 2B clinical study of individuals over the age of 7 is enrolling among people living with cystic fibrosis. The study is looking at the efficacy of PharmaNAC, the effervescent form of NAC that is used by many of us living with chronic infections or conditions. It is enrolling people at various sites in the United States.

NAC is one of the rate-limiting steps in the production of the tripeptide, glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant that is critical for the proper functioning of many cells in the body and has particular importance for the liver, lungs, heart, muscles and nervous system. An abstract from the results of a European study of NAC in cystic fibrosis is found below.

Further information from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is found here (although, as they note digestibility may present a problem for some antioxidants, one wonders if agents like glutamine and acidophilus might not also improve outcomes of the use of other agents? This is just a speculation–we need to investigate this further and welcome any input or thoughts.)

Dauletbaev N, Fischer P, Aulbach B, Gross J, Kusche W, Thyroff-Friesinger U, Wagner TO, Bargon J. A phase II study on safety and efficacy of high-dose N-acetylcysteine in patients with cystic fibrosis. Eur J Med Res. 2009 Aug 12;14(8):352-358.
University Hospital, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

OBJECTIVE: We conducted a single-centre, randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled phase II clinical study to test safety and efficacy of a 12-week therapy with low-dose (700 mg/daily) or high-dose (2800 mg/daily) of NAC. METHODS: Twenty-one patients (DeltaF508 homo/heterozygous, FEV1>40% pred.) were included in the study. After a 3-weeks placebo run-in phase, 11 patients received low-dose NAC, and 10 patients received high-dose NAC. Outcomes included safety and clinical parameters, inflammatory (total leukocyte numbers, cell differentials, TNF-alpha, IL-8) measures in induced sputum, and concentrations of extracellular glutathione in induced sputum and blood. RESULTS: High-dose NAC was a well-tolerated and safe medication. High-dose NAC did not alter clinical or inflammatory parameters. However, extracellular glutathione in induced sputum tended to increase on high-dose NAC. CONCLUSIONS: High-dose NAC is a well-tolerated and safe medication for a prolonged therapy of patients with CF with a potential to increase extracellular glutathione in CF airways.

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See the NYBC entry on PharmaNAC for information on purchasing PharmaNAC from the nonprofit purchasing co-op.

NEW! Managing and Preventing HIV Med Side-Effects

To mark its fifth anniversary, the New York Buyers’ Club has prepared a special edition of SUPPLEMENT. In it you will find a concise Guide to managing and preventing HIV medication side effects with supplements and other complementary and alternative therapies.

This is an invaluable introduction to how nutritional supplements can be used to counter those side effects that can make life miserable–or even disrupt treatment adherence–in people taking antiretroviral medications for HIV.

Read about approaches to dealing with diarrhea, nausea, heart health issues, diabetes, insomnia, fatigue, liver stress, lipodystrophy, anxiety and depression.

This FREE Guide is available online at:

http://newyorkbuyersclub.org/

On the NYBC website you can also SUBSCRIBE to the nonprofit co-op’s quarterly FREE newsletter, THE SUPPLEMENT, which continues to offer a unique perspective on current evidence-based use of supplements for chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes/insulin resistance, hepatitis and other liver conditions, anxiety/depression, osteoarthritis, cognitive and neurorological issues, and gastrointestinal dysfunction.