School-Borne Viruses and Swine Flu and Avian Flu Immune Enhancement For Children and Their Caretakers
By Nieske Zabriskie, ND
Children are constantly exposed to bacteria and viruses, especially
children in school or attending daycare. Some viruses and bacteria
can live from 20 minutes to 2 hours or more on surfaces like
cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks, which is noteworthy as
approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population attends or works in
schools. Furthermore, when children are exposed to viruses at
school, they bring home the pathogens to share with their parents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly
22 million school days are lost annually due to the common cold
alone, which can be caused by more than 200 different viruses.1 In
the U.S., people suffer from an estimated 1 billion colds each year.
Adults average 2 to 4 colds per year while children contract
approximately 6 to 10 colds annually. Additionally, the number of
colds per child can be as high as 12 per year in families with
children in school. Women have more colds than men, especially women
20 to 30 years old, which may be due to closer contact with
Cold viruses are spread through inhalation or mucous membrane
contact with infected airborne droplets. However, exposure to a
virus is not directly correlated with an individual contracting the
illness. Factors such as host susceptibility, immune function, and
virulence of the organism are also involved.
As children return to school, it’s particularly important to boost
the health of the entire family’s immune system. Slightly different
strategies can be employed in both children and adults to help them
thrive during cold and flu season.
Immunity in Children
Regular use of EpiCor® Jr. can help build immunity and protect
children against the viral invaders prevalent in school. EpiCor
Jr. is a fermentation product of the yeast Saccharomyces
cerevisiae and is a potent immune system modulator. EpiCor Jr.
directly influences lymphocyte (white blood cells) number and/or
activity including T-cells, natural killer cells, and antibody
In a recent clinical trial, EpiCor was compared to placebo to
evaluate the efficacy on the incidence and duration of cold and
flu symptoms in healthy subjects recently vaccinated for
seasonal influenza. The subjects received 500 mg of EpiCor or
placebo daily for 12 weeks. The individuals supplemented with
EpiCor had significantly fewer symptoms and shorter duration of
symptoms when compared with subjects taking the placebo.3
In another recent study with EpiCor, healthy subjects were
supplemented with 500 mg of EpiCor or placebo daily for 5 weeks.
Interestingly, the typical allergy season began during the 5
week trial. The results showed a highly significant decrease in
minor health complaints in the EpiCor group compared to the
placebo group. Additionally, seasonal allergies increased in the
placebo group, but were not observed in the EpiCor group. The
hematocrit was also increased significantly in the EpiCor group,
demonstrating support for red blood cell health. The
granulocytes, a particular type of white blood cell, were mildly
increased in the placebo group compared to the EpiCor group,
likely due to the onset of allergy season. The results also
showed an increase in secretory IgA (sIgA), which prompted a
second study. The results of the subsequent study confirmed that
EpiCor supplementation causes a significant increase in sIgA,
which is an important immunoglobulin that provides protection of
mucosal surfaces such as the mouth, nasal passages, and
intestinal lining, a common route of entry for pathogens.
Additional research has also found that EpiCor has
anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-viral activity, and
induces direct activation of white blood cells.5 EpiCor has also
demonstrated the ability to increase the level of CD4 (helper)
T-lymphocytes while decreasing the levels of CD8 (suppressor)
T-lymphocytes, thus supporting a balanced immune response. It
also increases the activity of natural killer cells, as one
study showed that natural killer cells in subjects supplemented
with EpiCor had a much higher killing efficiency of
pathogen-infected and abnormal cells.
Based on EpiCor’s immune-enhancing potential, combining EpiCor
Jr. with zinc and vitamin C—two immune-boosting nutrients
commonly insufficient in kids—is a good strategy to help
children overcome a viral attack.
Immunity in Adults
In adults, EpiCor can be used daily throughout the cold and flu
season to strengthen immunity. When a virus evades the body’s
defenses and an individual succumbs to the cold or flu, Fast
Response™ can be taken immediately upon feeling the first
symptoms. Fast Response combines vitamins A and C and zinc with
traditional Chinese herbs to directly affect immunity by
modulating white blood cells including B-cells, T-cells,
macrophages, and natural killer cells, as well as decreasing
inflammation, which causes many of the symptoms associated with
colds and flu.
These Chinese herbs strengthen the immune system during a viral
attack. Forsythia has several immune modulating properties. A
constituent of Forsythia suspensa seeds has been shown to have
potent antiviral effect against respiratory syncytial virus
(RSV).6 Research indicates that Forsythia inhibits the growth of
E. coli and other bacteria as well.7 Another study showed that
both Forsythia suspense and Glycyrrhizae uralensis help stop the
accumulation of inflammatory cells in virus-infected sites, a
process reported to play a crucial role in the progression of
chronic inflammation that occurs after a viral infection.8
Like Forsythia, Lonicera japonicus has long been used for
infectious diseases and has anti-inflammatory properties. A
constituent of Lonicera inhibits the pro-inflammatory
cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 and 5-lipoxygenase (LOX) enzymes,9 which
is important as infection with the cold virus increases the
activity of these two inflammatory enzymes.10 In a clinical
trial, a Chinese herbal combination including Lonicera,
Forsythia, and other herbs were given to children with acute
bronchiolitis and evidence of recent RSV infection. The mean
duration of symptoms including fever, cough, wheezing, and chest
crackles significantly decreased in the subjects treated with
herbs compared to the group treated with antibiotics alone.11
Another Chinese herbal of interest to parents whose kids are
continually bringing home viruses is Platycodon grandiflorum,
which has immune-modulating, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory
properties.12 In traditional Chinese medicine, Platycodon
grandiflorum has been used for clearing the lungs, resolving
phlegm, and soothing the throat.13 Constituents of Platycodon
have been shown to stimulate macrophage proliferation and
Arctium lappa (Burdock) works with the botanicals mentioned
above. It exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.15
Studies have shown that the constituent arctigenin prolonged the
survival time of mice infected with influenza virus as well as
inhibited lung consolidation in mice pneumonia caused by the
influenza virus.16 Animal models have shown that Arctium lappa
decreases coughing, and was equally active as some synthetic
preparations.17 Studies using an extract from Burdock showed
that this herb inhibited the growth of several pathogens such as
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus mutans,
Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis,
and Candida albicans.18-19
Three other botanicals—Mentha arvenis, Glycyrrhizae uralensis,
and Schizonepeta tenuifolia—can provide additional immune
enhancement when taken at the first signs of a cold or flu. The
essential oils of Mentha arvenis have shown anti-bacterial
activity against the growth of numerous bacterial strains such
as Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia
coli, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and
methicillin-sensitive Staphylococccus aureus.20 Constituents of
Glycyrrhizae have anti-inflammatory21 properties and can
activate macrophages.22 The constituent glycyrrhizin was tested
against isolates of coronavirus from patients with severe acute
respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the results showed that
glycyrrhizin was effective in inhibiting replication of the SARS-associated
virus.23 Schizonepeta tenuifolia has been used in traditional
Chinese medicine for the common cold, fever, and ear infections.
Schizonepeta tenuifolia has been shown to regulate inflammatory
responses by modulating T-cell activity.24
Children and their caregivers are particularly prone to colds
and flu. Optimizing immune function may decrease the number of
illnesses, as well as decrease the duration and severity of the
common cold, flu, or respiratory infection. Nutritional
supplements such as EpiCor, EpiCor Jr., and Fast Response are
indicated for immune support during the cold and flu season to
support proper immune function.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal Flu Information for
Schools & Childcare Providers. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/school/index.htm.
Accessed on 08-08-08.
2. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Common Cold.
Available at: http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/commonCold/overview.htm. Accessed
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Randomized Pilot Study: Consumption of a High-Metabolite Immunogen from Yeast
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cells. Arch Pharm Res. 2006 Apr;29(4):282-6.
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5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase-2 in bronchial biopsy specimens from nonatopic
subjects. J Infect Dis. 2002 Feb 15;185(4):540-4.
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antibacterial activity of Arctium lappa as a phytotherapeutic agent used in
intracanal dressings. Phytother Res. 2006 Mar;20(3):184-6.
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lappa constituents against microorganisms commonly found in endodontic
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isolated from Glycyrrhiza uralensis (Leguminosae) in LPS-induced RAW264.7
macrophages. Int Immunopharmacol. 2008 Jul 10. Published online ahead of print.
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polysaccharide fractions obtained from shoots of Glycyrrhiza glabra and hairy
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