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In this article, we discuss plant extracts and peptides that boost the body’s resistance and response to viral infections and increase immune competence.
These are potent substances and their use should be discussed with a qualified functional medicine practitioner.
Studies on Echinacea suggest that it:
- May reduce severity and duration of common cold symptoms (Zhai, 2007).
- May reduce the chance of catching a cold by 10 – 20% (Karsch-Völk, 2014).
- Activates macrophages
- Enhances the immunoglobulin M response (Zhai, 2007). Immunoglobulin M is an initial activity of the adaptive immune system against pathogens.
- Increases the numbers of circulating leukocytes, including total cell count and subpopulations (i.e., neutrophil, NK cell, and T lymphocyte) (Zhai, 2007).
NK (natural killer cells) are crucial for fighting viral infections.
Studies on black elderberry extract suggest that it:
- Has antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus (Barak, 2001).
- Reduces the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days (Barak, 2001).
- Increases antibody levels to the influenza virus (Barak, 2001).
- Anthocyanidin compounds in elderberry inhibit viral entry into cells and inhibit viral propagation (University of Sydney, 2019)
Benefits of stabilized allicin include:
- Antiviral activity
- Increased lymphocyte counts
- Increased Natural Killer cell counts
Studies on Quercetin suggest that it:
- Blocks virus replication in cells through reduced mRNA transcription (Wu, 2015).
- Inhibits viral entry into cells (Wu, 2015).
- Acts as a zinc ionophore, transferring zinc across the cell membrane so it can execute its antiviral properties.
Studies on Shitake/Beta Glucans suggest that they:
- Increase the quantity of circulating B-cells (Gaullier, 2011) (which produce plasma cells that secrete immunoglobulins).
- Enhance macrophage function (Akramiene, 2007).
- Enhance natural killer cell function (Akramiene, 2007).
Studies on thymosin alpha 1 suggest it can:
- Enhance T-cell, dendritic cell and antibody responses and modulate cytokines (Li, 2010) (immune system messengers).
- Increase efficiency of T-cell maturation (Li, 2010).
- Stimulate natural killer cells, thereby killing virus infected cells (Li, 2010).
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