Immune System Support

Life Extension Recommendations for Supporting Your Immune System:

There are many integrative therapies with well-established antiviral and immune-modulating properties. Details regarding these therapies can be found in Life Extension’s Influenza, Pneumonia, and Immune Senescence protocols. The interventions described in these protocols, though not necessarily validated as effective specifically for severe viral illness resulting in ARDS or SARS, are nevertheless reasonable upon onset of signs and symptoms of respiratory tract infections to provide optimal support for the respiratory tract and/or immune system.

For respiratory tract health and immune support, Life Extension has long recommended swift action to help mitigate the likelihood of an evolution of respiratory tract infection to a more serious course. During the initial signs and symptoms of respiratory illness, contact your personal healthcare provider as soon as possible, and strongly consider the following options to support your respiratory health and the health of your immune system:

The following Life Extension products help to support your immune system:

Zinc Lozenges, Item 01961: Completely dissolve in mouth one lozenge containing 18.75 mg of zinc acetate every two waking hours. Do not exceed 8 lozenges daily, and do not use for more than three consecutive days.

Garlic, Item 01394: Take 9,000‒18,000 mg of high-allicin garlic each day until symptoms subside. Take with food to minimize stomach irritation.

Vitamin D, Item 01713 5000 IU : If you do not already maintain a blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D over 50 ng/mL, then take 50,000 IU of vitamin D the first day and continue for three more days and slowly reduce the dose to around 5,000 IU of vitamin D each day. If you already take around 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily, then you probably do not need to increase your intake.

Cimetidine: Take 800‒1,200 mg a day in divided doses. Cimetidine is a heartburn drug that has potent immune support properties. (It is sold in pharmacies over-the-counter.)

Melatonin, Item 00329 1 mg, Item 00330 3 mg, Item 00331 10 mg.: Take 3‒50 mg at bedtime. 

Note: Life Extension offers melatonin in capsules, liquid, and lozenges in varying strengths.  Please see our Café Doc Products page for a complete list of melatonin products.

Vitamin C. Item 02227 (250 veg tablets), Item 02228 (60 veg tablets), Item 02229 (fast C 60 veg tablets).

N-acetyl-L-cystine (NAC), Item 01534.

Lactoferrin, Item 01681.

Selenium, Item 01778.

Probiotics, Item 02125 FLORASSIST GI with Phage Technology

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), Item 00954, Item 01804, Item 00953.

Avoid delay. Once microbes (eg, bacteria, viruses) that cause respiratory infections are allowed to multiply, they can replicate rapidly and strategies like zinc lozenges may not be effective. Interventions should be initiated as soon as signs and symptoms manifest. Although this regimen has not been studied specifically in the context of severe viral illness resulting in ARDS or SARS, implementation of this strategy along with contacting a qualified healthcare provider as soon as possible after onset of upper respiratory tract infection symptoms is advisable.

Several additional integrative interventions to help provide functional support for the health of the respiratory tract and immune system in the context of viral upper respiratory tract infections are provided below.

Vitamin C. Item 02227, 02228, 02229. Several studies have shown that vitamin C, both before and soon after the onset of symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, may help ease symptom burden and reduce the duration of illness. However, available evidence does not consistently support the notion that vitamin C can reduce the risk of acquiring upper respiratory tract infections. Importantly, studies to date have not focused specifically on coronavirus infections but on upper respiratory tract infections in general such as those caused by rhinoviruses, enteroviruses, and influenza viruses.

A 2017 case report suggested that high-dose intravenous vitamin C may have contributed to the recovery of a 20-year-old patient with ARDS due to a viral respiratory tract infection.204 On April 1st, 2020, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians issued a recommendation in favor of the use of intravenous vitamin C as supportive care for patients with severe, SARS-type viral respiratory illness. Their recommended dosing regimen is 100 mg/kg as a 24-hour continuous infusion for general supportive care, and 200 mg/kg (24-hour continuous infusion) for patients with severe SARS-type viral respiratory illness also experiencing a profound inflammatory immune response known as “cytokine storm.”

N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), Item 01534. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid derivative with mucolytic properties often used in the context of respiratory illnesses. A meta-analysis published in 2017 found that treatment with NAC led to shorter duration of ICU stay compared with control among patients with ARDS. Based upon some positive observational data during late 2019 and early 2020, some institutions have initiated using NAC as part of the standard management of patients in the hospital setting,210 although clinical trials are needed to specifically assess outcomes in patients with severe, viral respiratory illness treated with NAC. Some researchers have suggested NAC could provide valuable functional support for the health of mucous-producing cells lining the respiratory tract in some types of patients suffering from SARS-type viral respiratory illness on the basis of its potent antioxidant and mucolytic properties.

Lactoferrin, Item 01681. Lactoferrin, a glycoprotein involved in immune response and several other functions is found in secreted fluids and is abundant in milk (breast and cow). Lactoferrin has well-documented antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It appears to exert antiviral effects by activating the antiviral cytokines interferon (IFN)-α/β and boosting natural killer (NK) cell activity and Th1 cytokine responses. Some studies suggest lactoferrin administration may reduce the incidence and severity of common respiratory tract viral infections, like colds and flu.

In 2005, researchers reported that the gene encoding lactoferrin was highly upregulated in patients affected during the SARS epidemic that emerged in 2003, suggesting that it plays a role in the innate immune response to the infection. A follow-up study suggested that lactoferrin interfered with the ability of the 2003 SARS virus from breaching the functional and structural integrity of host cells.

Selenium, Item 01778. Selenium has important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral activities in the body, and deficiency is associated with increased risk of viral infection. In patients with HIV infection, poor selenium status is correlated with increased mortality, and selenium has been reported to slow progression of immune dysfunction and reduce hospital admissions. Some researchers have proposed that lack of selenium in regional soils may have contributed to weakened immunity and the associated SARS outbreak.

Probiotics, Item 02125. A growing body of evidence shows Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species can support the health of the host’s immune response and may reduce the occurrence, severity, and duration of viral respiratory tract infections such as influenza.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), Items 00954, 01804, 00953.  EGCG is a polyphenol from green tea. Because of its broad immune-benefiting effects, EGCG has been proposed as a promising agent for supporting the host’s immune response in the context of viral infections such as SARS and MERS.

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