With flu season coming up, it’s important to plan and educate ourselves on ways to support our immune system, to stay healthy, and prevent the onset of colds and flu. Fortunately, Naturopathic medicine offers many effective options for immune support that can be used both in the prevention and treatment of colds and flu. One of my favorite treatments for this is a supplement called ‘Biotic Extra.’
Biotic Extra is a unique combination of vitamins, minerals, and herbs specifically designed to promote good health by supporting the immune system. The ingredients synergistically support the body’s immune mechanisms to ward off infections or to treat current infections.
The ingredients in Biotic Extra are effective at boosting the immune system, but some of them also have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal effects in the body. Therefore, in some cases, it may be used as an alternative to antibiotics, avoiding any potential side effects that may occur with their use. Your naturopathic doctor can determine the appropriate use and proper dosage.
What are some of the ingredients in Biotic Extra, and what do they do?
This fat-soluble vitamin is essential to proper immune response. Vitamin A enhances white blood cell function, the maintenance of lymphocytes, enhances resistance to infection, and helps maintain mucous membrane defenses to infection. The mucosal cells (cells that line the airways, digestive tract, and urinary tract) function as a barrier and form the body’s first line of defense against infection.
Studies have demonstrated that vitamin B6 is an essential player in adaptive immunity, including both humoral and cell-mediated immunity. It has been shown to affect lymphocyte proliferation, differentiation, and maturation, as well as cytokine and antibody production. It is also necessary for proper zinc utilization, an important co-factor in antibody production.
Magnesium has been the subject of extensive research because it is one of the most critical micronutrients in our bodies. It is involved in hundreds of metabolic processes, and particularly, magnesium has a strong influence on the immune system in both non-specific and specific immune responses. Magnesium plays critical roles in immune responses, as a co-factor for immunoglobulin synthesis, immune cell adherence, antibody-dependent cytolysis, IgM lymphocyte binding, macrophage response to lymphokines, and T helper–B cell adherence.
Zinc is known to play a central role in the immune system, and zinc-deficient people experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens. The immunologic mechanisms whereby zinc modulates increased susceptibility to infection has been studied for several decades. Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system, from the barrier of the skin to gene regulation within lymphocytes. Zinc is crucial for normal development and function of cells mediating non-specific immunity, such as neutrophils and natural killer cells.
These are potent antioxidants that help to support the immune system. Bioflavonoids encompass a large group of nutrients with antioxidant activity. Citrus bioflavonoids, which are part of that group, are derived from the rind and pulp of citrus products. Citrus bioflavonoids are needed for vitamin C to be used effectively by the body. They also lengthen the effectiveness of vitamin C by slowing down its breakdown.
Arabinogalactan is derived from the living larch tree, specifically in the cell layer behind the bark. This polysaccharide is a rich carbohydrate that arborists cite as an essential element for recovery after injury to the tree. Research has shown that it stimulates the non-specific part of your immune system, such as natural killer cells, that help to fight off infections.
Myrrh resin (Balsamodendron myrrh):
Myrrh resin has been shown to have antiseptic, stimulant, tonic, expectorant, and vulnerary properties. It is valuable as a tonic and stimulant for bronchial and lung health.
Ginger (Zingiber officinalis):
Ginger, widely used as a medicinal herb in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, is often added to herbal formulas to support digestion, immunity and to increase the activity of other herbs. In the Ayurvedic tradition, ginger is thought to warm the body and helps to break down the accumulation of toxins in the organs, particularly in the lungs and sinuses. Ginger helps to stimulate the lymphatic system, which is our body’s way of cleansing our blood. By opening up these lymphatic channels, ginger prevents the accumulation of the toxins that make us susceptible to infections, especially in the respiratory system.
Garlic (Allium sativum):
Garlic is one of the most well-recognized medicinal herbs and is used in traditional medicines all over the world. The chemistry and pharmacology of garlic is well studied. Garlic is thought to possess numerous multi-faceted antimicrobial properties, including bacterial, viral, and anti-fungal. It is also an expectorant and digestive stimulant.
Barberry root (Berberis vulgaris), Oregon grape root (Berberis aquifolium):
The value of these herbs involves their high content of isoquinoline alkaloids, the most widely studied being berberine. Berberine is said to have a broad spectrum of antibiotic activity. It also has displayed antimicrobial activity against bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. Berberine provides many benefits in support of a healthy immune response.
Grapefruit Seed Extract:
Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is a substance derived from the seeds, membranes, and pulp of grapefruit. It is used as a broad-spectrum, non-toxic, antimicrobial. It is known to be highly effective for fighting infections and promoting health.
Medicinal Mushrooms (Shiitake, Maitake, Cordyceps):
Mushrooms’ immune-boosting abilities are attributable to their high level of polysaccharides, specifically Beta-glucans, a type of polysaccharide found in abundance in fungi/mushrooms. This class of therapeutically active compounds is most widespread within the mushroom kingdom. Within our bodies, they interact with specific fungal-polysaccharide receptors on our immune cells (macrophages, neutrophils, monocytes, and dendritic cells).
If you want an effective, natural treatment to use as a preventative or for treatment during this year’s cold/flu season, ask one of the doctors at Living Wellness Medical Center about Biotic Extra.