“In Canada, more than 419,000 adults aged 65 and older were living with some form of dementia between 2015 and 2016, and an estimated 78,600 new cases are diagnosed each year."
The good news is that scientific evidence supports the use of specific nutrient supplements to enhance brain function and prevent brain tragedies in later life.
The arrival of spring always brings the urge to detoxify the body as an annual ritual and fresh start. Many people take it upon themselves to do juice or water fasts to cleanse their systems, with some adding in colonic irrigations or enemas. This does provide some benefit for enhanced liver detoxification and removing winter’s accumulated toxins from the tissues. But there’s more. From sweating it out, to using ancient Chinese remedies, what follows are some of my favourite strategies based on experience and research.
When people ask me about the best way to detoxify, I have always recommended a few weeks of sauna therapy to rid the body of toxic heavy metals, drug residues, and other toxins stored for months or years in the fat and muscle cells of the body. Sauna therapy can be combined with one or several of my top 10 recommended natural remedies that follow here.
Although any sauna will work, the best type of sauna to use for detox purposes is the far infrared sauna, and there is plenty of evidence to support this (see References). In fact, it has been shown that detoxing through the skin (i.e. sweating), can actually lighten the load on the kidneys and liver, and flush out toxins that are hard to eliminate any other way. The far infrared sauna is much better tolerated than a conventional sauna, due to the lower heat yet deeper penetration of tissues experienced over longer periods of time.
Sauna detoxification is, however, not for everyone. For reasons that include things like lack of easy access, cost of sauna use, inexperience with detox regimes, heart and kidney disease, blood sugar concerns, prescription drug use, and heat intolerance, people may not be able to do sauna therapy or any type of fasting. In these cases, one can still use some safe and effective natural remedies to achieve good liver detoxification and improve energy levels as well as general health.
First start by eating or juicing more of the foods that aid liver, kidney, and bowel detoxification. These foods are anti-inflammatory and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and detoxification phytonutrients. Always use organic fruits and vegetables to avoid preservatives and other toxins.
Here’s a partial list of the commonest cleansing foods:
To clean out your system of toxins while optimizing your immunity, here are my top 10 recommended remedies and a description of their benefits:
1. BURDOCK ROOT (Arctium lappa) – 1000 mg or more daily. Studies show that burdock has blood sugar balancing benefits. It can lower very high blood sugar levels, so diabetics need to monitor their blood sugar levels more closely if using burdock. It has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for detoxification and blood purification purposes. Burdock is also a part of the Essiac herbal formula that has been popular as an immune boosting anti-cancer formula used by millions of cancer patients around the world. It also has cancer preventive activity. A 2016 study found that it slowed the growth of breast cancer tumours. Burdock can also act as a diuretic, removing excess water from the system. Burdock has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been used by many for osteoarthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions. Burdock can cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals and it is not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers. Those on prescription diuretics, blood thinners, or diabetic medications must also be careful in using burdock.
2. ASTRAGALUS ROOT (Astragalus membranaceus) – 1000 mg or more daily. This plant has a long and distinguished history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is one of the most potent natural immune enhancing agents used by TCM doctors for overall detoxification, cleansing the liver, and helping to treat cancer. It is a complementary medical treatment for high blood sugar. Its effect is particularly impressive in people who suffer from any chronic infectious disease. Like many adaptogenic herbs, it fights stress of any kind. Astragalus has recently been in the news for its anti-aging effects. One of its components (cycloastragenol) has been shown to lengthen chromosome telomeres and thus slow the way one ages. Long term use is safe and yields many benefits for general health. There are no reports of adverse reactions other than improved longevity.
3. DANDELION ROOT (taraxacum officinale) – 500 mg or more daily. Don’t trash those dandelions in your back yard. They have significant implications in both detoxification and your general health. Coincidentally, they bloom in the spring. Dandelions are classic liver cleansers. They improve bile flow and thereby aid in better digestion. Dandelion can lower high blood sugar and has also been successfully used to treat some cases of jaundice, cirrhosis, gout, eczema, and acne. A very high concentration of the amino acid kynurenic is found in dandelion; this is the component of dandelion that boosts bile production and increases bile transport of toxins out of the body. Thus, dandelion is a highly successful natural detoxification remedy.
4. MILK THISTLE (Silybum marianum) – 500 mg or more daily. I think just about every health conscious consumer has heard of this herbal remedy as a powerful liver tonic. Some conventional doctors warn of dire consequences if one uses too much of this herb but there is no evidence it can cause any harm. As one of my colleagues puts it, “Where are the dead bodies?” (I think the dead body pile comes from prescription opiates.) The good news is that milk thistle can, to some degree, protect the liver from both prescription and OTC drugs. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And anyone with a heavy intake of alcohol and/or cigarettes should be using milk thistle for liver protection. Milk thistle also protects livers from pesticides in food, heavy metals in drinking water, and air pollution. I recommend milk thistle year-round, especially for those who are exposed to the liver-toxic effects of alcohol, drugs and toxins in food and water.
5. MAITAKE (Grifola frondosa) – 500 grams or more daily. This famous mushroom has a long and illustrious history with TCM doctors who often recommend it as a health tonic and as a cancer fighter. It basically enhances immunity and is excellent when combined with any or all of the above remedies. Its immune enhancing properties come from one of its ingredients called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is a complex long-chain polysaccharide found in this and other mushrooms. Mushrooms are also a source of vitamin D, which has many documented benefits for immunity. Maitake also improves high blood pressure and high blood sugar problems. Diabetics need to monitor their blood sugars more carefully while on this remedy. If you are allergic to mushrooms, it’s best to avoid maitake.
6. SHIITAKE (Lentinula edodes) – 500 mg or more daily. This mushroom is commonly found in grocery stores and is a good source of both B vitamins and vitamin D. It also enhances immunity, detoxifies the body in several ways, and can help as a weight reduction aid, cardiovascular enhancer, and cancer cell fighter. It’s best avoided if you are allergic to mushrooms.
7. YUNZHI (Coriolus or Trametes versicolor) – 500 mg or more daily. This is a lesser known herbal remedy that has immune stimulating properties and has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, slowing cancer spread. Use of this fungus is contraindicated in those who have had bone marrow transplants. Care should also be taken in cases where one has autoimmune disease or is on immunosuppressive drug treatments.
8. ASHWAGANDHA ROOT (Withania somnifera) – 500 mg or more daily. This general tonic is one of the better-known herbal adaptogens most often recommended as an anti-stress, adrenal support remedy. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well as some anti-tumour activity. It’s good to use to balance the other remedies on this top 10 list.
9. SLIPPERY ELM BARK (Ulmus rubra) 100 mg or more daily. This herbal remedy contains mucilage that is quite soothing for oral and gastric inflammation (ulcers). It has also been used quite often as a treatment for inflammatory bowel conditions (e.g. colitis, Crohn’s, IBS). Slippery elm is one of the components of the Essiac anti-cancer herbal combo.
10. CHINESE (TURKISH) RHUBARB ROOT (Rheum palmatum) – 25 mg or more daily. This is yet another one of the herbs that make up the anti-cancer Essiac formula. It has often been recommended by TCM practitioners largely as a purgative, ridding the body of unwanted waste products and improving elimination from the large intestine. Those suffering from chronic constipation would certainly welcome its benefits. There is some evidence that several of the components (anthraquinones) possess anti-cancer effects. This remedy should be used with care and not for extended periods of time due to its laxative effects. Pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid it.
Spring detoxification should be carried out for at least two weeks but could safely be extended into a month. If you are inexperienced with detoxification regimens, work with a natural health care provider who can give you the guidance for a personalized approach. Happy springtime!
Catch Dr. Rona at the 41st annual Total Health Show, on Saturday, May 12. He will be part of a panel discussion on “Holistic Health for the Whole Family” from 12 to 2 pm. Then from 2 to 3 pm, he will be at booth 524 to answer questions and sign books.
Feature presentation: Dr. Rona will give a lecture at 3 pm on “The Horrors of Prescription Drugs for Kids – And the Best Natural Alternatives”: There is growing evidence that children are using more prescription medications than ever before for anxiety, depression, behaviour problems, ADHD, other psychological issues, insomnia, eating disorders and digestive abnormalities. Diet and lifestyle causes are being ignored in favour of potentially toxic drugs. Learn the real facts about the drugs. There are safer and more effective alternatives. This talk provides that information.”
For more information, visit www.totalhealthshow.com, call 1-877-389-0996, email: email@example.com, or see ad on page 41.
Save Our Supplements
How do you know your supplements are safe?
When you walk into your local health food store, you can find all kinds of safe, effective and high-quality supplements, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, herbal products and traditional medicines. All these products make up the category of natural health products (NHPs) that you and 77 per cent of Canadians use for the maintenance of good health.
These NHPs could include vitamin C to reduce the duration and severity of the common cold. Or a probiotic to keep your immune system primed and ready to combat those winter bugs. Or vitamin D, since there are few natural dietary sources and because supplementing with vitamin D is almost universally recommended, particularly for those in greatest need, such as infants and the elderly.
Whatever NHPs you choose, it is important to know Canada is a global leader in the regulation of these products. The Canadian approach to regulation is often referred to as a “pre-approval” system, which means that all NHPs must be licensed by Health Canada before they are allowed to be legally sold to Canadians.
How do you know your supplements are going to work?
Currently, when you buy an NHP at your local health food store, you can be confident knowing that the company selling that product has provided evidence to support any health claims made.
The level of evidence required depends on the claim being made, the overall risk of the product, and the condition it is being used for. A product such as a multivitamin that makes a claim, “helps with the maintenance of good health,” will have to provide different evidence than an omega-3 supplement that makes the claim, “helps to reduce serum triglycerides and support brain function.”
No NHP can be licensed for sale in Canada without providing evidence to support the claims being made. Evidence can come from a variety of sources, such as modern studies and traditional sources, including pharmacopoeias (books published by a government, medical or pharmaceutical society) and references supporting the traditional use of products like Traditional Chinese Medicine or herbals.
Each product that is licensed receives a Natural Product Number (NPN), which is printed on the package. You can look up this NPN in Health Canada’s online database, which provides details, such as what is in the product, and what claims have been approved based on the evidence submitted and reviewed by Health Canada.
So what’s the problem?
Health Canada is now proposing changes that could significantly alter the way NHPs are regulated based on, it appears, a single consumer survey and only six weeks of consultation.
This proposal is trying to fix a system that is not broken and will be a step backward instead of forward. Our current regulations take into account the unique properties and low-risk nature of these products, ensuring that you have access to NHPs that are safe, effective and high-quality, while respecting your freedom of choice, and the philosophical and cultural diversity of our country.
What does this mean for you?
This proposal is suggesting that Health Canada will no longer review some of the products before they are sold, and would require a disclaimer on labels to the effect of, “Health Canada has not reviewed for safety and efficacy.” Additionally, current claims about the products’ use may no longer be allowed and would be removed from the label. This could limit the amount of information you receive about the products you use.
While reducing oversight on some products, the proposal is suggesting increased oversight on others. These products may require a level of evidence similar to what is needed for drugs. Requiring this level of evidence, necessary for products developed in a lab, is not reasonable for NHPs when considering their safe nature and long history of use. This will result in the loss of some products from store shelves.
These proposed changes will require companies to begin investing in substantial research for ingredients we know work based on historical use and traditional sources. This means the cost of bringing these products to market will increase, resulting in increased costs for you.
What can you do?
We need your help. Please visit chfa.ca right now to send a message to your Member of Parliament, letting them know these proposed changes are unacceptable. It will only take you one minute and will make a big difference in helping to ensure you continue to have access to the NHPs you know and love.
Huge changes in the works from Health Canada that will limit your freedom of choice! If you're someone who cares about having access to natural health products (supplements, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, herbal products and more), please read this and let your Member of Parliament know that this needs to stop https://chfa.ca/en/natural-health-products/nhps-not-drugs/index.html
Your access to the safe and effective natural health products you use regularly is being challenged. Ensure you continue to have access to the NHPs you know and love by sending a message to your Member of Parliament right now, letting them know these changes are not acceptable. It’ll only take you one minute and will make a big difference. Click to learn more: https://chfa.ca/en/natural-health-products/nhps-not-drugs/index.html
Health Canada is proposing changes the existing Natural Health Product Regulations, which seem to be based on a single public opinion poll and six weeks of consultation taking place right now. The proposed changes could impact how NHPs are approved, the cost and number of products available for sale in Canada, and may not respect the cultural and traditional uses of these products. Find out more and what you can do to help here: https://chfa.ca/en/natural-health-products/nhps-not-drugs/index.html
Supplements should be regulated based on their low risk & the fact they're derived from nature #SaveOurSupplements https://goo.gl/Kcj7Dd
Canada is a global leader in the regulation of supplements. Let's move forward instead of back #SaveOurSupplements https://goo.gl/Kcj7Dd
Don’t take away my freedom to choose safe and effective products #SaveOurSupplements https://goo.gl/Kcj7Dd
I’m one of the 77% of Canadians that use supplements #SaveOurSupplements https://goo.gl/Kcj7Dd
Supplements are not drugs. Click to help #SaveOurSupplements https://goo.gl/Kcj7Dd
The vaccine debate rages on, with a growing majority of individuals opting to avoid conventional medical advice altogether. For example, in May of this year, the CBC reported that only 36% of Canadian adults were vaccinated against the flu. That’s despite heavy media advertising and dire warnings about what can happen to you if you are not vaccinated.
So, now that you have decided against vaccinating yourself and your children, what can you reasonably do to prevent common infections such as influenza? Personal hygiene is of paramount importance. Hand washing is the single most basic and important prevention against the spread of infection. Plain soap and water should be sufficient to protect against the spread of both viruses and bacteria. There are also quite a few other proven strategies for boosting immunity in a safe and effective way.
THE IMMUNE BOOSTING DIET
Making simple changes to the diet can boost immunity dramatically. First, eliminate immune suppressors like sugar, refined carbohydrates, red meats, and processed foods. Eating foods laced with chemicals or those that are deficient in vitamins and minerals (e.g. empty calorie junk foods) increases the likelihood of catching viruses of any kind. Here are some helpful guidelines:
• To minimize sugar: ease up on sodas, pastries, and such. You’ve probably had enough ice cream during the summer. A few grams of sugar can destroy your white blood cells’ ability to resist infections for several hours.
• Eat for the season – root vegetables, soups and slow-cooked stews and casseroles are all favourites for the fall and winter, as are beans and lentils. Don’t worry about calories (although avoid using too much fat and sugar in your cooking). Focus instead on the nutritional content. It’s normal to gain up to 4kg in the winter. This makes up part of your yin for the yang months.
• Eat more garlic and onion: besides being rich in antioxidants and selenium, garlic is anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Both garlic and onions are part of the allium family, which is rich in sulfur-containing compounds responsible for many of their health promoting effects.
• Take probiotics: Your body contains 10 times more bacteria than cells. Friendly bacteria not only attack pathogenic bacteria and fungi, but also trigger appropriate white cell reactions to invaders. They also positively influence your mental/emotional state. It’s estimated that 80 percent of your 100 trillion bacteria are located in the gut. Friendly bacteria are often depleted, especially by GMOs (the most widespread GMO foods are corn, soy, canola, and wheat). We all need probiotic foods and supplements. Commercial yogurt is insufficient. Raw milk and raw cheese, fermented foods, and water kefir or milk kefir should be staples. There are probiotic supplements as well, which deliver reliably high doses of multiple strains of good bacteria. (If you’re forced into taking antibiotics for an infection, double up on your probiotic supplements.)
• Increase veggies, reduce or eliminate grains: eat lots of dark green vegetables, berries, nuts, fish, and lean organic meats like chicken along with a side of carrots, apples, and herbs of all kinds added to your plate. Avoid grain products and especially white bread. Grain contains gluten and anti-nutrients that make it hard to digest; it can even clog up your intestine, blocking absorption of vitamins and minerals.
TOP NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS
When people consider using natural remedies to boost their immune system, what typically first comes to mind are antioxidant vitamins and minerals. These include vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, glutathione, selenium, and zinc. Other popular choices are herbs, such as echinacea, whey protein concentrate, probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus and bovine colostrum.
Proven anti-viral remedies include oil of oregano, mild silver protein, thymus gland extracts, and medical ozone or hydrogen peroxide (intravenous, rectal insufflations or as an ozone steam bath). There are also numerous anti-viral herbal remedies (see below). Different remedies work for different people. It’s all a matter of what suits your biochemistry best, as well as trial and error with different remedies or combinations. Work with a natural health care provider to create a personalized diet and supplement program.
COMMON ANTI-VIRAL HERBS
Andrographis – in Scandinavia, this herb is used to fight the common cold, flu, and upper respiratory infections. It works by boosting the immune system, helping the body to battle infections and prevent them from reoccurring. Andrographis is also used to treat a host of illnesses in China, Thailand, and India – addressing bacterial and viral infections, fever, diarrhea, inflammation, blood pressure, and blood sugar problems. Andrographis tincture can be taken at the first sign of cold or flu symptoms, as a natural treatment.
Echinacea – has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties; it is best used in combination with other anti-viral herbs during the course of flu season, as a preventive measure. It has a reputation as a blood purifier and also has interferon-like properties. It fights both strep and staph infections, candida (yeast infections) and can kill fungi. It has been used successfully for treating blood poisoning, ulcers, tuberculosis, childhood infections of every kind and a long list of skin, digestive and immune system disorders. Most herbalists recommend that echinacea be used on an intermittent basis (three weeks on, two weeks off) because its immune-boosting effects wane if used continuously. I do not agree with this. According to a growing number of herbalists like Canada’s Dr. Terry Willard, the on-off use of echinacea is unnecessary since studies indicate continued usage is best.
Elderberry – extracts or syrups have been clinically proven to help people get over colds and influenza (a natural cure). It’s not a drug, so it’s cheaper and without the side effects that have been reported for Tamiflu.
Lomatium – contains anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory factors.
Myrrh Gum – is a gum resin with anti-microbial, anti-fungal, astringent, and expectorant properties. It stimulates white blood cell production.
Pau D’arco – is a herb that is well known for its antifungal properties and its stimulating effect on the immune system
Thuja – has anti-viral, anti-fungal and expectorant properties (induces release of phlegm from the lungs), effective in the treatment of warts, fungal infections, and bronchitis.
Wild Indigo – contains alkaloids and oleo-resins which are anti-viral and anti-microbial.
LIVE WELL ~ MAKE YOURSELF STRONG
• Exercise: moderate exercise, even walking a mile or two at least three times a week, helps the lymph system cleanse impurities to boost your immune system. Avoid long gruelling workouts. A brisk walk every day is all you need in the winter. Mindful practices such as winter chi ball, qi gong, tai chi, yoga, Pilates and Feldenkrais are also excellent for building and balancing yin and yang.
• Stress less: this should be an all-year practice. Many consider stress or anxiety as the leading cause for decreased immunity. Lighten up. Try meditation or yoga. Laugh more. Be less critical. Worry less. Get counselling if needed to help you cope with stress or depression.
• Sleep: not necessarily more, but better. Make sure that where you sleep is totally dark so your melatonin production will be sufficient. There are melatonin supplements if you feel the need. The different phases of sleep contain two cycles that are deep enough to refurbish your immune system. You need to sleep through them.
TOP TEN IMMUNE BOOSTING NUTRIENTS FOR YOUR FAMILY’S HEALTH
Adequately feeding your immune system boosts its fighting power. Immune boosters work in many ways. They increase the number of white cells in the immune system army, train them to fight better, and help them form an overall better battle plan. Boosters also help to eliminate the deadwood in the army, substances that drag down the body. Here are the top 10 nutrients to add to your family’s diet; these will help cut down on days missed from work and school because of illness.
1: VITAMIN C: This tops the list of immune boosters for many reasons. There has been more research about vitamin C than perhaps any other nutrient. Vitamin C supplements are inexpensive to produce, and the vitamin is present naturally in all fruits, garlic, and onions. Also, you can buy a vitamin C-fortified version of just about anything. Here’s what the research shows about how this mighty vitamin protects your body:
Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies and increases levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces, preventing the entry of viruses. Vitamin C reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by raising levels of HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering blood pressure and interfering with the process by which fat is converted to plaque in the arteries. As an added perk, persons whose diets are higher in vitamin C have lower rates of colon, prostate, and breast cancer.
If you take vitamin C supplements, space them throughout the day rather than take one large dose, most of which may end up being excreted in the urine. Doses that are effective for most healthy adults are 1000 – 3000 mg daily but individual needs at different times of life could be much higher.
2: Colostrum is the first mammary secretion nourishment that any mammal, including humans, provides for its newborn for the first 24-48 hours of life. It does not contain milk, as we know it. In choosing a bovine colostrum supplement, make sure it comes only from the first milking, ideally within the first 6 hours after birth of the calf. Choose your colostrum carefully as most brands combine the first milking (which is pure colostrum) with several subsequent milkings (which are mostly milk), resulting in products that more closely resemble milk or whey powder than true colostrum.
First milking colostrum contains numerous immune system and growth factors which trigger at least fifty processes in a newborn, ranging from the development of the immune system to the growth of all body cells. Laboratory analysis of immune and growth factors from bovine colostrum show them to be virtually identical to those found in human colostrum. And bovine colostrum is totally safe, with no known drug contraindications or negative side effects at any dosage level.
Conventional medical doctors were, at one time, enthusiastic about using colostrum for antibiotic purposes. This occurred prior to the introduction of sulfa drugs and penicillin. In the 1950s, prior to the widescale use of corticosteroids as anti-inflammatory agents, colostrum was used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Polio vaccine developer Dr. Albert Sabin discovered that colostrum contained antibodies against polio and recommended it for children susceptible to catching the disease. Bovine colostrum has been used therapeutically in India for thousands of years by Ayurvedic physicians, and still is to this day.
Well known colostrum components like interferon, gamma globulin, growth hormone (GH), IgF-1 and protease inhibitors are all used by conventional medical specialists in the treatment of cancer, chronic viral infections including HIV and autoimmune diseases. There are now over 4,000 clinical studies from around the world detailing research that has been done using colostrum in the treatment of dozens of different diseases.
First milking bovine colostrum is the ideal vaccination alternative. The reason is obvious when you look at its components. The two major components of colostrum are immune factors and growth factors. It’s the immune factors that offer the vaccine benefits. These include:
Immunoglobulins (A, D, E, G and M) – neutralize toxins, viruses and bacteria in the lymph and circulatory systems.
Lactoferrin – antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, iron-binding protein with therapeutic effects in cancer, HIV, cytomegalovirus, herpes, chronic fatigue syndrome, candida albicans and other infections.
Proline-Rich Polypeptide (PRP) – a hormone that regulates the thymus gland, stimulating an underactive immune system or dampening an overactive immune system as seen in autoimmune disease (MS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, etc.).
Leukocytes – white blood cells that stimulate the production of interferon which slows viral reproduction and penetration of cell walls.
Enzymes – lactoperoxidase-thiocyanate, peroxidase and xanthine oxidase destroy bacteria through their ability to release hydrogen peroxide.
Lysozyme – a hydrolyzing agent and immune booster capable of destroying bacteria and viruses on contact.
Cytokines – interleukins that regulate the duration and intensity of the immune response, are responsible for cell to cell communication, boost T-cell activity and the production of immunoglobulins. Interleukin-10 is strongly anti-inflammatory, especially in arthritic joints.
Trypsin Inhibitors and Protease Inhibitors – prevent the destruction of immune and growth factors in colostrum from being broken down in the GI tract; they also prevent H. pylori from attaching to the walls of the stomach and can have a beneficial role in the treatment of peptic ulcers.
Lymphokines – hormone-like peptides produced by activated lymphocytes which mediate the immune response.
Oligo Polysaccharides and Glycoconjugates – attract and bind to pathogens (Strep., E. Coli, Salmonella, Cryptosporidia, Giardia, Entamoeba, Shigella, Clostridium Difficile Toxins A & B and Cholera), preventing them from attaching or entering the mucous membranes.
Other immune Factors – some of the documented immune factors include orotic acid, secretory IgA, IgA Specific Helper, B Lactoglobulin, Lactalbumin, Albumin, Prealbumin, Alpha 1-Antitripsin, Alpha 1-Fetoprotein, Alpha 2-macroglobulin, Alpha 2-AP Glycoprotein, C3, C4 and Orosomucoids.
Vitamins A, B12, and E are found in small amounts, while traces of all others are also present in colostrum.
Sulfur – a mineral with multiple uses in metabolism and as part of many structural body proteins.
If I had to choose one supplement to boost immunity and prevent the most common diseases for which conventional medicine recommends vaccines, colostrum would be my first choice.
3: VITAMIN E: This important antioxidant and immune booster doesn’t get as much press as vitamin C, yet it’s important to a healthy immune system.
Vitamin E stimulates the production of natural killer cells, those that seek out and destroy germs and cancer cells. Vitamin E enhances the production of B-cells, the immune cells that produce antibodies which destroy bacteria. Vitamin E supplementation may also reverse some of the decline in immune response commonly seen in aging.
Vitamin E has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In a Harvard School of Public Health study of 87,000 nurses, vitamin E supplementation was shown to cut the risk of heart attacks by 50 percent.
It’s not difficult to get 30 to 60 IU of vitamin E every day from a diet rich in seeds, vegetable oils, and grains, but it’s difficult for most people to consume more than 60 IU a day consistently through diet alone. Supplements may be necessary to get enough vitamin E to boost your immune system.
You need 100-400 IU per day, depending on your general lifestyle. People who don’t exercise, who smoke, and who consume high amounts of alcoholic beverages will need the higher dosage. Those with a more moderate lifestyle can get by with lower levels of supplementation.
4: CAROTENOIDS: Beta-carotene increases the number of infection-fighting cells, natural killer cells, and helper T-cells, as well as being a powerful antioxidant that mops up excess free radicals which accelerate aging. Like the other “big three” antioxidants (selenium, vitamins C and E), beta-carotene reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by interfering with how fats and cholesterol in the bloodstream oxidize to form arterial plaques. Studies have shown that it can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially strokes and heart attacks, giving scientific credence to the belief that a carrot a day can keep the heart surgeon away.
It has also been shown that beta-carotene supplements can increase production of T-cell lymphocytes and natural killer cells and can enhance the ability of the natural killer cells to attack cancer cells. Beta-carotene is the most familiar carotenoid, but it is only one member of a large family. Researchers believe that it is not just beta-carotene that produces all these good effects, but all the carotenoids working together. This is why getting carotenoids in food may be more cancer-protective than taking beta-carotene supplements.
The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which itself has anti-cancer properties and immune-boosting functions. But too much vitamin A can be toxic to the body, so it’s better to get extra beta-carotene from foods and let the body naturally regulate how much of this precursor is converted to the immune-enhancing vitamin A. It’s highly unlikely that a person could take in enough beta-carotene to produce a toxic amount of vitamin A, because when the body has enough vitamin A, it stops making it. The best food sources of beta carotene include pumpkins, squash, carrots, leafy greens, and cabbage.
5: VITAMIN D3: stimulates the production of proteins that act like natural antibiotics. Deficiency of vitamin D encourages infections, inflammation and immune system suppression. If you have adequate blood levels it is possible to prevent any and all infections. The trouble is that one has to get enough sunshine in order for the body to manufacture sufficient vitamin D through the action of ultraviolet light on the skin. This may be very difficult to achieve during the winter months in Canada. Hence, regular oral supplementation of emulsified vitamin D drops are almost mandatory. Check blood levels before supplementing with vitamin D. The optimal average adult dose is between 5000 and 10,000 IU daily. For more information on vitamin D, see my book, Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin.
6: BIOFLAVONOIDS: A group of phytonutrients called bioflavonoids aid the immune system by protecting the cells of the body against environmental pollutants. Bioflavonoids protect cell membranes against the pollutants trying to attach to them. Along the membrane of each cell there are microscopic parking spaces, called receptor sites. Pollutants, toxins, or germs can park here and gradually eat their way into the membrane of the cell, but when bioflavonoids fill up these parking spots there is no room for toxins to park. Bioflavonoids also reduce cholesterol’s ability to form plaques in arteries, and lessen the formation of microscopic clots inside arteries which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that people who eat the most bioflavonoids have less cardiovascular disease. A diet that contains a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, at least six servings per day, will help you get the bioflavonoids needed to rev up your immune system so it’s working in top form.
(Ed. note: Superfoods contain the richest sources of bio-flavonoids including anthocyanins, quercetin, and hesperidin. Recommended are acai berries, maqui berries, goji berries, noni juice, black currants, and kale.)
7: ZINC: This valuable mineral increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection and helps them fight more aggressively. It also increases killer cells that fight against cancer and helps white cells release more antibodies. Zinc is an important mineral required by the body in the manufacture of proteins, especially those found in enzymes and numerous hormones, including insulin. Zinc increases the number of infection-fighting T-cells, especially in elderly people who are often deficient in zinc, and whose immune system often weakens with age.
The anti-infection hype around zinc is controversial. While some studies claim that zinc supplements in the form of lozenges can lower the incidence and severity of infections, other studies have failed to show this correlation. A word of caution: too much zinc in the form of supplements (more than 75 mg a day) can inhibit immune function. It’s safest to stick to getting zinc from your diet and aim for 15 to 25 milligrams a day. For infants and children, there is some evidence that dietary zinc supplements may reduce the incidence of acute respiratory infections, but this is controversial. The best source of zinc for infants and young children is zinc-fortified cereals.
8: GARLIC: This flavourful member of the onion family is a powerful immune booster that stimulates multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases the efficiency of antibody production. The immune-boosting properties of garlic are due to its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin and sulfides. Garlic can also act as an antioxidant that reduces the build-up of free radicals in the bloodstream. Garlic may protect against cancer, though the evidence is controversial. Cultures with a garlic-rich diet have a lower incidence of intestinal cancer. It is also a heart-friendly food since it keeps platelets from sticking together and clogging tiny blood vessels.
9: SELENIUM: This mineral increases natural killer cells and mobilizes cancer-fighting cells. Best food sources of selenium are tuna, red snapper, lobster, shrimp, whole grains, vegetables (depending on the selenium content of the soil they’re grown in), brown rice, egg yolks, cottage cheese, chicken (white meat), sunflower seeds, garlic, Brazil nuts, and lamb chops.
10: OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: One study found that children taking a half teaspoon of flax oil a day experienced fewer and less severe respiratory infections and fewer days of being absent from school. The omega-3 fatty acids in flax seed oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. (Perhaps this is why grandmothers used to insist on a daily dose of cod liver oil.) Essential fatty acids also protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. When taking essential fatty acid supplements, such as flax or fish oils, take additional vitamin E, which acts together with essential fatty acids to boost the immune system. One way to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is to add one to three teaspoons of flax oil to a fruit and yogurt smoothie.
• Garlic: Nothing like good old-fashioned garlic to protect against seasonal infections. This ancient remedy has a long history going all the way back to traditional Asian medicine where it’s been used to alleviate many health problems. In Russia it was used just like an antibiotic, and even today it still makes a good alternative to antibiotics(1) and works to keep your immune system functioning properly while also protecting against inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
• Selenium: This all-important trace mineral is typically found in fish and nuts. It’s actually located right in the proteins of animal tissues and is called selenoprotein. It offers protection against infectious disease(2) as well as cancer. Selenium’s potential anti-cancer ability has been studied in clinical trials for many years, and the results have come back mostly positive. This is probably indirectly linked to the way it helps the immune system, which in turn helps to prevent cancer. It’s even been linked to an extended lifespan for people with with HIV/AIDS.(3)
You can supplement with at least 200 mcg a day, though as with any trace mineral you should be careful not to overdose. It’s even thought that selenium deficiency may have contributed to the polio outbreaks of the 1950s.(4)
• Vitamin C: This vitamin is a tried and true way to prevent infections from happening. It was first isolated in the 1930s and has gone on to be a good remedy for heart disease, gout, cataracts, cancer, and immune function. It does this by increasing levels of serum antibodies that stimulate and protect the cells of the immune system. Good sources of this vitamin include camu berries, red peppers, wild rosehips, oranges, grapefruit, tomato, and broccoli.(5)
• Probiotics: Probiotics work by keeping the good bacteria well-populated in your intestines(6). These probiotics are found in foods like yogurt, buttermilk or kefir. They not only help boost immunity but aid in optimal digestion. Because the immune system is located so near to the intestine, this “good” bacteria also helps to fight off the “bad” bacteria. These same good bacteria also help to break down and absorb nutrients that can prevent infections, too. The good bacteria typically found in probiotics are acidophilus, bifidobacterium, and lactobacillus.
• Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia) has a reputation as a blood purifier and also has interferon-like properties. It fights both strep and staph infections, candida (yeast infections) and can kill fungi. It has been used successfully for blood poisoning, ulcers, tuberculosis, childhood infections of every kind and a long list of skin, digestive and immune system disorders. Most herbalists recommend that echinacea be used on an intermittent basis (three weeks on, two weeks off) because its immune-boosting effects wane if used continuously. I do not agree with this. According to a growing number of herbalists like Canada’s Dr. Terry Willard, the on-off use of echinacea is unnecessary since studies indicate continued usage is best.
• Tea Tree Essential Oil: This wonderful-smelling oil has an amazing ability to prevent infections simply by breathing it in every day or adding it to your aromatherapy bath where its absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. It was used for centuries by the Aborigines of Australia to help with infections.(7) Today it is still used as a broad spectrum anti-viral oil.
• Mushrooms: Shittake mushroom is full of iron, vitamin C, protein, selenium, vitamin B3 and makes a good source of daily fibre. And it also holds a popular place in history as a great anti-viral and anti-bacterial that fights the problem at its source. The active compound responsible for this action is called lentinan.(8) The shiitake mushroom is also useful in preventing and fighting against cancer. Reishi mushroom is a medicinal mushroom containing polysaccharides with anti-tumour and immune-stimulating properties for the spleen and bone marrow. Medicinal Mushrooms, such as Reishi, Maitake and Shiitake stimulate many aspects of the immune system, including the production of interferon
• Colloidal Silver: This tasteless liquid that originates from silver is good for killing bacteria, but it also destroys bad bacteria so it’s helpful to supplement with a probiotic or yogurt when taking colloidal silver. It works by the small colloids using electromagnetic to draw dead cells into the bloodstream where they are eliminated.(9)
• Astragalus is a Chinese herb that enhances antibody reaction to antigens, increases T-lymphocyte activity, improves symptoms of many HIV-related problems and increases the body’s production of interferon. In traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus enjoys a long history of use as an immune system booster and potent tonic for increasing energy levels. Astragalus has been proven to enhance immunity in cancer patients and offsets bone marrow suppression and gastrointestinal toxicity caused by chemotherapy and radiation. No side effects have been reported.
• Homeopathic Vaccines: Aside from vitamins, minerals and herbs, there are homeopathic vaccines that have been gaining popularity. Homeopathic specialists are best to consult for that approach. Doses for all other immune boosters should be individualized, ideally with the help of a natural health care provider such as a naturopath or complementary medical practitioner.
Flu vaccination rates in Canada 2012: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/05/10/bc-flu-vaccine-report.html
Clark, Daniel G. and Wyatt, Kaye. Colostrum, Life’s First Food. Salt Lake City:CNR Publications. 1996.
Heinerman, John. Dr. Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Anti-Aging Remedies. Paramus:Prentice Hall, 1997; pp.85-86.
Jensen, Bernard. Colostrum: Man’s First Food, The White Gold Discovery. Escondido:Bernard Jensen, 1993.
Rona, Zoltan, P. Bovine colostrum emerges as immune system modulator. Am. Journal of Natural Medicine; March, 1998, pp. 19-23.
Rona, Zoltan, P. Natural Alternatives to Vaccination. Vancouver: Alive Books. 2000.