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.

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NYBC’s ThiolNAC – Antioxidant Supplement

ThiolNAC at NYBC

NYBC’s specially manufactured antioxidant supplement, ThiolNAC, is again in stock at the nonprofit co-op. Below is the product description for this combination supplement, which is available only through NYBC, and which provides a key part of NYBC’s MAC-Pack, our LOW COST alternative to K-PAX:

ThiolNAC (NYBC) Each bottle, 90 tablets, sustained release formula. Each tablet contains 500 mg of NAC and 134 mg of alpha lipoic acid. As part of the MAC Pack, three per day provide the equivalent dose as used in the original neuropathy study published in the journal AIDS: 1500 mg of NAC and 402 mg of alpha lipoic. This is an excellent formula for those suffering from liver inflammation. It is also extremely convenient for many PWHIVs who take both NAC and Lipoic Acid since this 2-in-1 combination eliminates some pills while providing the same, generally accepted dosages. Suggested use is 2-3 tablets daily with meal or as directed. Reduce dose if headaches occur.

Note: This version of NYBC’s ThiolNAC intentionally decreases the alpha lipoic acid amounts per tablet from our original formula’s 200mg/tab to the present formula’s 134mg/tab. This change brings us precisely in line with the dosage studied in Jon Kaiser’s study, and also responds to a concern raised by our colleague Lark Lands regarding higher dose alpha lipoic and hypothyroidism.

NAC + Alpha Lipoic = ThiolNAC

That’s the equation that sums up NYBC’s combination antioxidant supplement, which includes both NAC (N-acetylcysteine) and alpha lipoic acid. These two are among the most researched antioxidant supplements, with studies of NAC covering issues such as pulmonary function, liver function, HIV, while alpha lipoic acid (sometimes called “thioctic acid,” hence the “thiol” part of our product name) has been investigated for liver health, neuropathy, diabetes, HIV. As a combination, they appear in such products as K-PAX and SuperNutrition’s Super Immune Multivitamin.

NYBC’s combination product ThiolNAC was designed to meet the needs of those who can benefit from supplementation with both of these antioxidants. By combining the two in one supplement, there is also a significant savings in cost as well–always one of the main goals of the nonprofit co-op.

For more information, see the NYBC entry on ThiolNAC:

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?products_id=169

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

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

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

As the cold and flu season approaches, don’t forget the supplements! Here are some good choices for preventing colds and flus, or for lessening symptoms:

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. Supplementing with 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. Our #1 recommendation for cold and flu season! See NYBC’s D-3 2500IU or D3 1000IU or D3 400IU.

Cold Away. This Health Concerns blend of Chinese herbs is designed to “clear external heat and alleviate symptoms of the common cold.” A key component of this formula is the herb Andrographis, which has been studied in several US trials in the last decade, and was found to significantly decrease cold symptoms and the duration of a cold. See NYBC’s Cold Away.

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 1 and 3 grams of Vitamin C per day may decrease cold symptoms (sore throat, fatigue, runny nose) by 1 – 1 ½ days. See NYBC’s C1000 – Ascorbic Acid with Olea Fruit Extract, or C -Buffered Vitamin C (easier on the stomach), or Super C Powder.

NAC (PharmaNAC). 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 USA. (Acetaminophen’s best-known tradename is Tylenol, but it’s also found in many other meds, and so it’s become all too easy to overdose. We like PharmaNAC for its quality packaging, wildberry flavor & fizz! See NYBC’s PharmaNAC.

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. (This herb is a favorite of integrative medicine specialist Dr. Andrew Weil.) An elderberry extract and American ginseng are two other botanicals that have been studied for cold and flu symptoms in recent North American research, with some promising results. The popular Echinacea, however, has generally disappointed in cold prevention studies.

28 billion doses of acetaminophen per year sold in the US; liver damage caused by acetaminophen leads to 400 deaths and 42,000 hospitalizations/year; why not recommend NAC (N-acetylcysteine) as antidote?

We read with interest in the New York Times on July 1 that the FDA had convened a panel to advise on how to deal with the medical problems arising from the extraordinary popularity of acetaminophen (most commonly recognized tradename: Tylenol) in the US.

Since acetaminophen is often part of a combination medication, the potential for people to accidentally overdose on it is ever present. Overdoses of acetaminophen now represent the leading cause of liver damage in the US. In hopes of reducing some of these accidents, the FDA advisory panel voted to recommend lowering the highest allowable dose of acetaminophen in over-the-counter pills like Tylenol; the panel also voted to recommend a ban on some narcotics that typically are paired with acetaminophen.

Our thought, as in the past on this blog: why not encourage drug manufacturers to pair acetaminophen with NAC (N-acetylcysteine), a known antidote to acetaminophen poisoning, widely used for that purpose in Europe? Certainly we recommend to NYBC members that if they must used acetaminophen, they also take NAC for protection as well.

Glutamine and other supplements for gastrointestinal health (and to maintain lean muscle mass): Looking at Westerly Market’s online information about managing HIV/AIDS

Before there was Whole Foods, a friend likes to remind us, there was the Westerly Natural Market on Manhattan’s West Side. One of the nice things about Westerly, we’ve just been informed by the same person, is that they offer a very user-friendly website for those interested in getting more information about supplements, herbs, and how these substances or other “complementary and alternative” therapies are used for various conditions.

So, we took a look at the Westerly website’s Reference Library entry on HIV and AIDS, and found a concise account with several good points. One of these, we thought, was the discussion about maintaining muscle mass and preventing diarrhea, which over time deprives the body of needed protein. Here’s an excerpt:

Using certain supplements may help in maintaining body weight. A well-designed study compared the use of a daily supplement regimen that included enormous amounts of the amino acid glutamine (40 g per day), along with vitamin C (800 mg), vitamin E (500 IU), beta-carotene (27,000 IU), selenium (280 mcg), and N-acetyl cysteine (2,400 mg) to placebo. People who took the supplements gained significantly more weight after 12 weeks than those who took the placebo.

Glutamine is a key supplement here, and has long been recommended by NYBC and its predecessor DAAIR for gastrointestinal support. See the NYBC entry

Glutamine Powder

or

Glutamine Capsules

Note that N-acetyl cysteine, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, beta carotene (as Carotenall), and selenium are also available through NYBC’s purchasing co-op–follow the links to see specific recommendations in each category.