This is a follow-up post to one I wrote a few weeks ago. It was about lifestyle tactics that you can implement today to keep your family’s immune system working for you. If you haven’t read that post, I suggest reading it before you read today’s post. The previous blog post can be found here.

Supplements to support the Immune System

I love supplements, you probably do too if you’re here reading this. I take them (almost) daily, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day depending on the season and needs. My kids take them as well, daily. I’m a fan, no question. I believe supplements have their place and can be a wonderful tool to advance or maintain a healthy lifestyle.

An issue that often comes up is the idea of ‘out-supplementing’ a poor diet or poor lifestyle habits and choices. You can’t eat junk, neglect your self-care, pop a bunch of herbal capsules and expect to be healthy. It’s never going to happen that way. In fact, more and more health care practitioner’s are following the likes of some of the most well-renowned ND’s, functional medicine practitioners and holistic health care practitioners when it comes to how they advise their patients and writing protocols with supplements: you don’t get the supplement protocol until you lay the foundation: change the diet and adjust the lifestyle. This is the hardest task for most of us to do. That’s also why I wrote the previous blog post first. Foundation is key, supplements are there to simply supplement (enhance) an individuals health and health goals. So please, before you run to the health food store and invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars on supplements, do the hard work first- address the body and the mind, then add your supplements. Let’s proceed….

TOP 3 SUPPLEMENTS FOR IMMUNE SUPPORT

1). Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry is at the top of this list because it’s safe for very young children, pregnant women, the elderly and has no known contraindications with pharmaceuticals. You can make your own (recipe video here) or purchase some good quality brands online or in store. One I appreciate for it’s clean ingredients and great flavour is by Suro. The base is honey instead of glucose syrup which some brands chose to use.

Why Elderberry?

Elderberry has been used for centuries as an anti-viral agent to lessen the duration of viral infections such as the seasonal flu. During cold and flu season in Norway, 60 patients (suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 hours or less were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Patients were given 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier for those who were administered elderberry versus those who received the placebo syrup (Zakay-Rones, 2004).

Elderberry can be used intermittently throughout cold and flu season or consistently as a preventative measure. By nature, elderberry will lessen the likelihood that you become affected by cold and flu symptoms while decreasing the duration you are symptomatic should you fall ill.

2). Vitamin C

The most commonly known and most widely associated vitamin with immune health is of course, Vitamin C. Our bodies cannot make Vitamin C, we have to consume it and/or supplement with it. Ideally, you should do both- and if you’re working on laying down the foundation needed for optimal health, you’ll naturally get vitamin C into your daily diet! Eating Vitamin C rich-foods is important, but consider where you are in life; are you eating enough? Are you under stress? Do you have high histamine levels? Are your allergies bothering you? Are you sick or around sickness? If yes, your body has a higher than average daily requirement for C. Our adrenal hormones rely heavily on C, so make sure you’re stocking up your body this season. 

Why Vitamin C?

It’s an antioxidant: meaning Vitamin C effectively protects our molecules and cells from oxidative damage (think pollution, pathogens, poor diet and stress harming our bodies) which contributes to the progression of both CHRONIC (long-term) and ACUTE (sudden onset) disease. Consider Vitamin C protective AND preventative.

Intake of adequate Vitamin C is also important for nonheme-iron absorption; AKA getting iron from plant-based materials requires higher vitamin C plasma levels. Vitamin C, when consumed with iron can help boost hemoglobin production for people susceptible to or suffering from anemia. Low iron= guaranteed sickness and fatigue.

There are two (main) types of supplemental vitamin C. Ascorbic acid, ideally buffered with calcium to enhance absorption in the body; and, whole food based C. You’ll commonly find whole-food based vitamin C from Camu Camu, Acerola Cherry, Amla Berries or Rosehip. These are great options but are more expensive and you’ll often need to take more to reach a 1,000mg dose that you would get from ascorbic acid based C supplements. The absorption of both types of supplements is similar, so it boils down to cost and personal choice. I personally do a high quality ascorbic acid most often, but when I purchase a whole foods based option, camu camu in powdered form is my top pick.

The last supplement is what is known as an immune modulator. I decided to include this classification of supplement because the more our society is plagued by auto-immune conditions and diseases, the more options this population needs to be given. The great thing about an immune modulator is that it will work for you whether you have an auto-immune condition or you don’t- it modulates the immune system after all! If your system is on overdrive or if it’s sluggish, taking a modulator has both ends of the spectrum covered.

3). Deep Immune, by St. Francis

This is a very specific supplement and the reason for it- the formulation is excellent. Deep Immune can be taken by those who need an immune tonic- to ‘boost’ their immune system or for those who need help with rebalancing their immune system through down regulation or reactivation of specific sites in the body (these are the autoimmune folks).

The formula comes in a tincture or capsule form, both with equal efficiency. Some of the herbs in it are used in traditional Chinese medicine to balance the body. The main player in this formula is Astragalus root. Astragalus (and most of the herbs in this formula) is considered an adaptogenic herb, meaning it helps the body combat stress and fatigue and remain in balance, reducing the chances of falling ill to colds and flus.

“Researchers have established adaptogens as metabolic regulators that reduce the ill effects of stress and fatigue by reducing the reactivity of the body’s defensive systems, particularly the HPA axis (the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis), which controls the hormonal response to stress.

Adaptogens enhance the vitality and functioning of all the major body systems and organs—the heart, circulation, metabolism, the immune system, digestion, the brain, and the reproductive system. The result: adaptogens can function as preventers of disease and have even been called ‘medicine for healthy people.’”

As cited directly from: https://www.stfrancisherbfarm.com/blogs/news/deep-immune

This supplement comes in a kids version as well, but does contain whey, do avoid if your child is sensitive to dairy.

References

Zakay-Rones Z., Thom EWollan TWadstein J (2004, March-April). Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.

As retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016

St Francis Herb Farm Blog, https://www.stfrancisherbfarm.com/blogs/news/deep-immune October 10th, 2018