In this episode, we discuss the immune system and give you specifics to help you during the cold and flu season. Most of us are very busy and don’t really have time to get sick. Below are some simple ideas to help you boost immune function and hopefully protect you during the cold and flu season.
What Supplements Support Immune Function?
Vitamin D: for immune support, we recommend taking 2,000 to 10,000 IU depending on your exact situation. To boost immune function, you could take 5,000 IU’s daily for 1 to 2 weeks and then reduce down to 2,000 IU daily for maintenance. Note: before you starting taking Vitamin D, you should have your level tested.
Vitamin A: for immune support, we recommend taking 25,000 to 100,000 IU depending on your exact situation. To boost immune function, you could take 100,000 IU for 1 week, then reduce down to 75,000 IU for 1 week, reduce again down to 50,000 IU for 1 week and then maintain at 25,000 IU daily. Note: 100,000 IU daily is considered a high dose, so don’t take this amount for too long. A couple of weeks is enough to boost immunity, but not long enough to cause any unwanted side effects.
Larch Arabinogalactan: for immune support, we recommend taking the fiber found in Larch Arabinogalactan, which has been shown to prevent the common cold. To boost immune function, take 2 capsules daily for 1 to 2 weeks. After that, you can reduce to 1 capsule daily for maintenance.
Probiotic (Ther Biotic Complete): for immune support, we recommend taking a probiotic, especially if antibiotics have been taken. Maintaining a healthy microbiome is very important to optimal immune function. Ther Biotic Complete is one of our favorite probiotics. It provides 25 billion organisms per capsule. You can take 1 to 2 capsules daily.
Echinacea Hydrastis and Berberine: for immune support, we recommend taking Echinacea, Hydrastis, and Berberine. Echinacea has a long history of boosting immune function and Hydrastis (Goldenseal), which contains the constituent berberine have anti-microbial properties. EHB is one of our favorite products to boost immune function.
Vitamin C & Zinc: for immune support, this contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and zinc. We have been using this with patients for years as it provides several immune-supporting nutrients.
Elderberry: most of the time, when people get sick, it is typically a virus of some sort. Sambucus or elderberry has a long history of boosting immune function against the common cold.
PYHP 072 Full Transcript:
Dr. Maki: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us for another episode of the Progress Your Health Podcast. I’m Dr. Maki.
Dr. Davidson: And I’m Dr. Davidson.
Dr. Maki: So, on this episode, we’re going to continue talking about immune function, cold and flu season. Last time, we talked more about prevention, how we segway from adrenals and stress into immune function. This one we’re going to actually give you– this one’s going to be a little bit shorter or just going to give you some things to think about and granted a lot of people understand these or know these things already but we want to just give you some of our favorites.
Dr. Davidson: Just real quickly, we try to really make our sound, sound good for you and not any like weird static or fuzz but if you do hear some noises in the background, our dog is having a great time with his toy.
Dr. Maki: Yeah, yeah. You might have heard that on the last one as well.
Dr. Davidson: That was his bone.
Dr. Maki: Yeah, we’re trying to keep him occupied while we do this.
Dr. Davidson: He’s our little buddy.
Dr. Maki: Yeah. Let’s just dive in. Last one, we talked about diet, minimize sugar, minimize caffeine, minimize alcohol.
Dr. Davidson: Improve your sleep.
Dr. Maki: Lifestyle, improve sleep, lower stress as much as possible. In some ways, kind of try to slide down as much as you can and supporting adrenal function, right? That’s something that we’ve talked about in the last few episodes, that’s how you keep your immune system strong and resilient through the stressors of life. Now this one, we’re going to talk about some actual specifics. Let’s just kind of dive into the nutrients side, so vitamins and minerals, things that you recommend for your patients.
Dr. Davidson: Exactly. I mean, what’s so amazing is now we have access to really good quality supplements that can help with kind of what we talked about last time is, what can we do to prevent getting sick and what can we do if “darn it. I’m already sick right now and what can I do acutely in the moment to reduce the duration, reduce the intensity and the severity” and also, try to not– which ends up happening, not let it progress into something more serious. Of course, we had mention to– I mean, people have kids, people have grand kids, people have nieces“ and nephews and family members and friends and this little kids, they might be little germ machines, granted it’s good for them and their immune system to get sick but they bring that home to us. One thing that I think probably a lot of you have heard of and may know is Vitamin D. I think Vitamin D is great for that immune system, it’s not to preventative. Now, granted Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin, it’s a hormone.
Dr. Maki: Yeah, it should be called hormone D, not vitamin D. I think there’s a lot of misconception about that but it’s interesting, granted we get most of our Vitamin D from the sun, you know I lived in the South West for almost 15 years and everybody that we would test their Vitamin D on will always be either low below 30 or low and normal in the low 30’s, that shouldn’t happen in a place where there’s constant sunshine at them. Either, people are spending a lot of time indoors, which is probably part of the problem–
Dr. Davidson: Or hopefully wearing sunscreen.
Dr. Maki: Yeah.
Dr. Davidson: That’s my own prerogative.
Dr. Maki: Yeah. Well, we can argue about that. You and I disagree about the sunscreen thing so we’ll save that one for another episode but nonetheless, in a place where there’s sunshine all the time, everyone should have at least the middle of the reference range which is the reference range is 30 to a hundred, at least be at the middle if not high normal when it comes to Vitamin D and everybody is low normal on Vitamin D. I think that we’re either testing a wrong thing, the metabolite or whatever the lab test are set up for or there’s a different mechanism going on there that actually pulls that Vitamin D down whether it’s an inflammatory process or like you say, a hormonal process. I could even see there’s a connection between, let’s say cortisol and low Vitamin D levels.
Dr. Davidson: Yeah. Or just the conversion process. So, you think you’re outside, the sun hits your skin, it converts into Vitamin D1, then it has to go through the liver and the kidneys to convert into Vitamin D2, to Vitamin D3 which is the active form. Sometimes, that gets lost in translation or hormonally or stress-wise or something, I don’t know but reduces that conversion to the active form of Vitamin D3 which is– but then, with wonderful science and technology, we can just take Vitamin D3 or you can stay out of the sun and cover up and wear a little sunscreen but cover up and just take Vitamin D3.
Dr. Maki: Yeah yeah. You’re Asian, right? So you have cultural—
Dr. Davidson: Eye freckle.
Dr. Maki: Yeah. Well, you’re also trying to protect your skin from the sun, which I do agree with trying to protect your skin but I do not agree with the whole sunscreen as a form of protection.
Dr. Davidson: Well, either way, Vitamin D is very good for your immune system. Something I had mentioned on the last podcast was, you don’t want to necessarily take immune stimulating vitamins and herbs and supplements and minerals and what not because if you’re stimulating the immune system but you’re not sick, that’s actually not very healthy but you know, nobody wants to get sick even if it’s for one day. I mean, when you’re sick, you are so humbled by how great you feel when you’re not sick. That actually, Vitamin D isn’t necessarily stimulating the immune system but it’s strengthening the immune system that help prevent you from getting sick and then on the flip side about what’s so amazing about Vitamin D is if you are sick, you can increase up your level of Vitamin D and that will help reduce down that duration and that intensity and that severity. Now, one side thing is, Vitamin D is a hormone and it’s fat soluble which means too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing is they can say “Hey, you can have Vitamin D toxicity.” But you really have to take a lot of Vitamin D for that to happen.
Dr. Maki: Yeah. And most doctors, even conventionally minded doctors nowadays are testing everybody’s Vitamin D. So you are taking Vitamin D or you’re going to take Vitamin D, it’s a good idea to check your levels. We recommend– there’s a couple of different companies that we use but we like to use liquid Vitamin D, not in every case. There are some that are soft gels but liquid Vitamin D usually 1 to 5000 IU’s per drop so 1000 international unit per drop so these bottles, they come with a little eyedropper on the top, and you take 5-10 drops maybe depending on the person, maybe 2 drops, maybe 4 drops, maybe 5 drops, 10 drops, usually on the upper hand and that does a really really nice job of improving lab values. You’ll see it in a matter of a– even a couple of weeks to a few months, that their lab numbers will go from the low 30’s or even abnormal and now they’re 45-65 on a lab range which is actually very nice.
Dr. Davidson: And something that Dr. Maki had mentioned on the last podcast talking more about lifestyle is he had mentioned about the wonderful magic of your gut microbiome and how many– gosh, how many things it can do for a body and probably things we don’t even know about yet but one thing that our gut microbiome does is it’s very involved in the immune system. That’s pretty much where we make a lot of our immunity is from our gut microbiome so a probiotic, I think is a great thing to help kind of strengthen that immune system, not stimulate it but good for preventative.
Dr. Maki: Yeah right. That’s one of those things you could do on a regular basis to maintain that really healthy balance between the good bacteria and the pathogenic bacteria. When that balance is offset, that’s what they called Dysbiosis, that’s why as we’ve mentioned in the last one, that’s why in our opinion, you want to be very very careful with antibiotic use. When I was a teenager, I had a really bad complexion which is the worst time of your life to have a bad complexion when you’re a teenager and you got pimples all over your face. It’s just a really hard thing to deal with and of course, I went to dermatologist after dermatologist and only what they give me is was Retin-A and tetracycline and I think that’s just– knowing what I know now, I just think that it’s just a terrible approach to treat acne but antibiotics, this is also not necessarily a secret or a big surprise but antibiotics are just been over prescribed. Now, you have MRSA and antibiotic resistant bacteria that is going to cause big problems in the future because we overuse them up until this point. In our opinion, you want to use an antibiotic when there’s no other option, okay? So, when you really need it the most when you are in kind of dire straits then take the antibiotic but if you got a stifle or a sneeze or this or that or the typical and flu season, all of those 90+% of them are caused by viruses, the antibiotics are going to do you no good anyways but the things we’re talking about, the Vitamin D and we’ll get in some other ones, those are ways to either bolster your immune system or to acutely bolster it when you really need it. We have lots of options when it comes to that and I think that that is something that gets missed sometimes out there in the conventional world.
Dr. Davidson: Yeah, I think a great probiotic for an adult and even for kids. Like we said, kids are meant to get sick, that’s okay but if we can reduce the severity, I think a probiotic, improving your gut microbiome, working on it is only a benefit to your health. And then another thing that I like to use, I’m going to mess up how you– say it out loud, but it’s also working on that digestive system or that got microbiome is there’s a product that I used that basically it’s kind of like a fiber-like but it’s a little bit more for that preventative, for improving the immune system or strengthening it but not necessarily stimulating it. How would you pronounce the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?
Dr. Maki: Arabinogalactan?
Dr. Davidson: Arabinogalactan.
Dr. Maki: Yeah, that has been kind of–
Dr. Davidson: Say that 3 times.
Dr. Maki: Yeah right. That’s been kind of used as a long-standing history of being able to enhance immune function and that’s one– like you said, you could use that kind of in some ways prophylactically to give yourself a little surge. Now, when it comes to other herbs like echinacea, everyone’s familiar with echinacea. Echinacea is one of those ones you want to use in a short term basis. You want to use it for that early [inaudible] phase where you’re just kidding, feeling like you’re coming down with something and then use it through the course of it and then you’re done. You don’t want to use something like that over a long period of time because then, like we said on the last episode, when you really need that immune stimulation it’s going to really do much.
Dr. Davidson: Exactly. Echinacea, everybody’s heard of echinacea. Echinacea has been around for a long time mainstream but combining echinacea with Hydrastis, which is goldenseal and berberine which is Oregon grape which grows like crazy around here in the North West is those are really great at stimulating the immune system and you kind of high dose it a little bit and you only do it for about 5 days but that can really shorten the duration and especially the severity of having a virus or a bacterial infection. Now, one thing we’ll put on the show notes because you know, there’s a lot that we’re talking about in terms of nutrients for colds and flus is we’ll put a little list together on the show notes that will have maybe more specifics for the supplementation, for the nutrients, the dosing and all that with disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer but we’ll go into a little bit more about that acute and preventatives so can you see it on paper.
Dr. Maki: Yeah. Now, you mentioned your favorite nutrient which is the Vitamin D and I asked you that question before we actually sort of recording. I asked you, “If you had to pick something for immune function, what would you choose?” and you said Vitamin D. My favorite actually is Vitamin A. I think Vitamin A is a hugely deficient nutrient because if you look at the food source, Vitamin D is different. Vitamin D comes from the sun or at least it’s suppose to, we can debate that, we spend too much time indoors, we’re always in close walls, we’re not getting as much sun as we should, okay fine or like we said, there’s a hormonal inflammatory component to it that exacerbates that but Vitamin A is meant to be a dietary source and if you look at the source of Vitamin A, there’s not very many of them. It’s suppose to come from plant sources as the form of beta carotene. 2 beta carotene molecules create 1 Vitamin A molecule but even that, people’s consumption of colorful fruits and vegetables is probably not as much as it should be so now our Vitamin A levels are actually very low. The reason why that’s important is, as we are talking about in the last episode about the mucus membrane health, our nose, our nasal passage, our respiratory tract, our throat, our GI tract, everything, every wet surface in the body is a mucus membrane. Vitamin A helps to promote what they call IGA or Immunoglobulin A, which is basically our first line of defense on those mucus membranes and Vitamin A specifically helps to improve IGA status on those mucus membrane. Well, my favorite one for that reason is Vitamin A. Vitamin A could be done– like you said, it could be done in maintenance, kind of low dose on a daily basis or it could be done, like you said with the Vitamin D, it can be increased when you really need it if when you come down to something.
Dr. Davidson: And people get worried about Vitamin A also being fat soluble or Vitamin A toxicity but you do have to take a lot of Vitamin A or maybe have some other health conditions where Vitamin A would be toxic, it’s not that likely.
Dr. Maki: Yeah. And we’ve given people in a hundreds of thousands of international unit. They got acne problems, they got immune system problems, they got skin problems. Another little tidbit is the little side note, another thing that Vitamin A is a critically helpful for is polyps. You got polyps anywhere on the body, particularly colon polyps. If you’re 50+, you’re getting your colonoscopy. If you get on the report, if they find polyps, start taking some Vitamin A. Vitamin A also plays a role in what they call Cell Differentiation, meaning when that cell is forming, it needs to differentiate into whatever cell it is and this case, a colon cell. That differentiation process doesn’t happen, it turns into a dysplastic cell and now, you develop a pre-dysplasia or polyp is really in some ways a precancerous type of growth, you can in some ways prevent those with using Vitamin A.
Dr. Davidson: Cool. Also, who hasn’t heard of Vitamin C and Zinc? Of course, those are really great for the immune system but I think sometimes, we forget about it just because it’s so common place. Like hey, you can take Vitamin C everyday, of course you could take too much, you’re going to get a little bit of diarrhea but Vitamin C and Zinc as well, is really good for the immune system.
Dr. Maki: Yeah. If we don’t have to get complicated, like the things we’re talking about are really basic things, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, the little caveat about Zinc, we like to kind of high dose Zinc up to let say a 120mg, a 100-120mg for roughly about 7-10 days at the most and then you want to drop that back down. If you use Zinc too high of a dose for a too long, it’s actually going to have an immune suppressing effect and again, that’s what we don’t want. So, high dose Zinc, like in a form of a Zinc loss and jug a little candy, you can take multiple times a day as a way to get a nice little surge and those work well if people are having, let’s say like a herpes outbreak or even shingles, little bit of L-lysine along with that can be very good to help to mobilize immune function.
Dr. Davidson: One of my other favorites is taking NAC or N-Acetyl Cysteine and you can take that consistently, that’s not necessarily for an acute infection but NAC or N-Acetyl Cysteine converts into glutathione which is a great antioxidant in itself but one thing that glutathione and NAC can do is it helps the lung– the bronchioles, those little hairs, those little velli[?], they’re supposed to be like a little elevator that bring the crude and the crap out of your lungs and you cough it up but some people that might be more at achilles heel is their lungs like maybe they’ve had asthma as a child or they have asthma or their lungs are a little bit more compromised. I have a lot of patients that say when they get a cold, it go straight to their lungs which is not a good thing. So, NCA is a great way to kind of help strengthen that.
Dr. Maki: Yeah, right. Yeah.
Dr. Davidson: And it’s great for the liver too.
Dr. Maki: Yeah. And certainly on that glutathione side, with the list could go on and on, we mentioned echinacea, there’s a elderberry, there’s–
Dr. Davidson: I love Sambucol Elderberry especially for the little kids. Only use it when they’re sick, don’t use it every single day because it is immune stimulating but it actually taste good so then the kids aren’t gagging. You can’t get it in their mouth.
Dr. Maki: Yeah right. Now, when we are at Bastyr, your Dr. Michel, he was one of the founders of Bastyr and he used to say that Dr. Bastyr, who his school was named after, Dr. Bastyr used to use just simple cod liver oil and Vitamin C’s is that, that combination cod liver oil and vitamin c would reduce about 75% of colds and flus for kids. Now, as you said, trying to get kids to take cod liver oil, now they do flavor it well, now they have lemon flavor and orange flavor and strawberry so it doesn’t taste like fish but we’re tackle with this too, I think it’s because of the Omega-3’s, we all need those essential fatty acids but also, cod liver oil is supposed to have it’s own kind of source, it’s contained in the cod liver, you know the cod liver oil of Vitamin D and Vitamin A. I think that’s the reason why you get the immune stimulation of it is because of the Vitamin A content, consistent source and the Vitamin D content over time that helps to bring down and of course just a simple Vitamin C nowadays. One thing to consider when you’re thinking about Vitamin C is you can find the the liposomal forms, okay? That’s basically Vitamin C kind of packaged up in a fat carrier, right? So, you can minimize some of that, meaning that you can get higher doses into the body and you’re not as susceptible to that GI tolerance or what they call bowel tolerance, like you said you’re going to take too much Vitamin C and have some lose stool or something. You can liposomal form and has better absorption and it decreases some of that GI problems that can happen.
Dr. Davidson: And then, one other thing that I don’t want to– like I said, we’ll put a little list together on the show notes to make it little bit easier to understand or to read through and then we’ll have the different products that we really like but definitely the homeoapathy, there’s a guna flu, which is a great homeoapathic little vials that you use for when someone is sick. I actually use it as preventative too, like I might have someone use it when they’re going on an airplane, like I am leaving right now for the airport so i’ll take one vial of the guna flu before I get one the plane and then just weight it out, on maybe on my next flight back home, I would take one. Kids of different ages can use it too. They might use it once a week or if they went to a birthday party with a bunch of sick kids, you can use it once or if you’re actually sick, you can follow the instructions on it and you take it a little bit more frequently and I have seen that it really helps prevent and it will help acutely in homeoapathy, which is so wonderful is it it’s going to work or it’s not. You’re not going to have the side effects that some other things have.
Dr. Maki: And for kids, kids respond extremely well to homeoapathy because their vital forces so strong, they really do respond very well to it. Sometimes, humans like you said, it can be little hit-miss if you have the right remedy or the wrong remedy but kids really really respond well because they’re not as– in some ways, lack of a better turn down is adulterated sort of speak as the adults. Their bodies are– immune systems are so strong and vital. Now, a few other things before we wrap this one up. Hydrotherapy, all right? So, using basically water, moist water and when we are in school, we used to do– just kind of like this thing, we used to call them pit bath. There’s this very particular type of pit moss that was powderized into a little packet, we put it in hot water and basically soak people in there for 20 minutes and that’s a great way of stimulating immune function. Now granted, most people don’t have athletic training tub in their house and if you use the pit moss in there, you’re probably going to stain your tub so it can be little clunky but even taking a hot bath or a hot tub or a shower can be a great way to stimulate immune function, your raising little by using heat like that or sauna, I’m finish. You know, I’m Maki, my last name is Maki so I’m definitely finish origin that are kind of know for taking a sauna. It’s a really great way to increase the internal body temperature, which is exactly what a fever supposed. A fever is supposed to raise to internal body temperature because that mobilizes your immune system and makes it stronger.
Dr. Davidson: Oh yeah. Another old school hydrotherapy is putting on a really cold cold wet towel on little kids back or somebody’s back and then you flip it over and you put a hot towel on it and then you do a cold one and you go back and forth, always end with cold as that will stimulate the immune system as well.
Dr. Maki: Yeah, if you take a hot shower, you’re supposed to rinse in cold which sound awful in the moment. If you take a sauna, you’re always supposed to rinse in the cold shower when you’re done, as a way to kind of close your pores and to kind of get that contrast going. It’s a lot of times, it’s the contrast between the hot and cold that actually does what you wanted to do. And there’s some other little thing that we learn when we are in school, we don’t use them necessarily but there are little tricks–
Dr. Davidson: Recommend them but we don’t have– yeah, we don’t do them on people.
Dr. Maki: Yeah, like what she packed, we used to do a bunch of those things when we’re in school because we are students, we didn’t know anything, we don’t want us to hurt anybody but they let us play with water a lot so we had a lot of fun there and we learned quite a bit. And from when it comes to some serious things like hepsy and HIV and some things we had, just using water, we had water in temperature, we are able to witness some really good results for people. Now, you can go up a force we used to recommend, we haven’t recommend it in a long time but we used to recommend quite a bit B-12 injection for people, especially like you say, when they’re getting ready to fly or a plane, B-12 injections, either on an ongoing basis or prior to or while you’re–
Dr. Davidson: A B-complex?
Dr. Maki: Yeah, while you’re flying and even then from that level, IV’s like what they consider or what they call a Myers Cocktail which is a way to infuse in a– what you call an IV pushed away to get in some nutrients in a very quick way. That can be great way to stimulate immune function when you’re actually sick. We’ll put down some of these specific ideas in the show notes. You can just go to the website and be able to find that information there. Dr. Davidson, do you have anything else to add?
Dr. Davidson: Yeah. Like you said with the show notes, we’re going to put down maybe some specific products that I use– I mean, there’s thousands of products all over that are fantastic but we have some of our little nitty gritties that we love and we’ve noticed worked with our patients and worked on ourselves, worked really well so we’ll have a little bit of a list with that. If you do end up buying it from our website which is fantastic, thank you for being so loyal is you can get the free shipping code which is COLD, C-O-L-D, cold would be our free shipping code.
Dr. Maki: Yeah, and all caps on the COLD. That way, there’s a $9 shipping charge.
Dr. Davidson: Uppercase, all uppercase.
Dr. Maki: Yeah yeah, I’m sorry, not bold but all upper case not lower case. It is case specific so it has to be all capitals, in that way you could save the $9 shipping charge if you do happen to order anything. With that said, Dr. Davidson, anything else? Or are we good for now?
Dr. Davidson: Oh absolutely. Very good.
Dr. Maki: Okay. Well, hopefully this gives you some strategies, hopefully this gives you some things that you can do. Certainly like always, if you have any questions, certainly don’t hesitate to reach out. Otherwise, until next time, I’m Dr. Maki.
Dr. Davidson: And I’m Dr. Davidson.
Dr. Maki: Take care. Bye bye.