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 and siblings.

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 school-age children.2

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 production.

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 activity.14

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: Accessed on 08-08-08.

2. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Common Cold. Available at: Accessed on 08-09-08.

3. Moyad MA, Robinson LE, Zawada ET Jr, et al. Effects of a modified yeast supplement on cold/flu symptoms. Urol Nurs. 2008 Feb;28(1):50-5.

4. Jensen GS, Patterson KM, Barnes J, et al. A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Pilot Study: Consumption of a High-Metabolite Immunogen from Yeast Culture has Beneficial Effects on Erythrocyte Health and Mucosal Immune Protection in Healthy Subjects. The Open Nutrition Journal. 2008; 2:68-75.

5. Jensen GS, Hart AN, Schauss AG. An antiinflammatory immunogen from yeast culture induces activation and alters chemokine receptor expression on human natural killer cells and B lymphocytes in vitro. Nutrition Research. 2007 Jun;27(6):327-335.

6. Zhang GG, Song SJ, Ren J, et al. A new compound from Forsythia suspensa (Thunb.) Vahl with antiviral effect on RSV. J Herb Pharmacother. 2002;2(3):35-40.

7. Kong B, Wang J, Xiong YL. Antimicrobial activity of several herb and spice extracts in culture medium and in vacuum-packaged pork. J Food Prot. 2007 Mar;70(3):641-7.

8. Ko HC, Wei BL, Chiou WF. The effect of medicinal plants used in Chinese folk medicine on RANTES secretion by virus-infected human epithelial cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Sep 19;107(2):205-10.

9. Son MJ, Moon TC, Lee EK, et al. Naturally occurring biflavonoid, ochnaflavone, inhibits cyclooxygenases-2 and 5-lipoxygenase in mouse bone marrow-derived mast cells. Arch Pharm Res. 2006 Apr;29(4):282-6.

10. Seymour ML, Gilby N, Bardin PG, et al. Rhinovirus infection increases 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase-2 in bronchial biopsy specimens from nonatopic subjects. J Infect Dis. 2002 Feb 15;185(4):540-4.

11. Kong XT, Fang HT, Jiang GQ, et al. Treatment of acute bronchiolitis with Chinese herbs. Arch Dis Child. 1993 Apr;68(4):468-71.

12. Kim JY, Hwang YP, Kim DH, et al. Inhibitory effect of the saponins derived from roots of Platycodon grandiflorum on carrageenan-induced inflammation. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2006 Apr;70(4):858-64.

13. Guo L, Zhang C, Li L, et al. Advances in studies on Platycodon grandiflorum. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2007 Feb;32(3):181-6.

14. Choi CY, Kim JY, Kim YS, et al. Augmentation of macrophage functions by an aqueous extract isolated from Platycodon grandiflorum. Cancer Lett. 2001 May 10;166(1):17-25.

15. Lin CC, Lu JM, Yang JJ, et al. Anti-inflammatory and radical scavenge effects of Arctium lappa. Am J Chin Med. 1996;24(2):127-37.

16. Yang Z, Liu N, Huang B, et al. Effect of anti-influenza virus of Arctigenin in vivo. Zhong Yao Cai. 2005 Nov;28(11):1012-4.

17. Kardosová A, Ebringerová A, Alföldi J, et al. A biologically active fructan from the roots of Arctium lappa L., var. Herkules. Int J Biol Macromol. 2003 Nov;33(1-3):135-40.

18. Gentil M, Pereira JV, Sousa YT, et al. In vitro evaluation of the antibacterial activity of Arctium lappa as a phytotherapeutic agent used in intracanal dressings. Phytother Res. 2006 Mar;20(3):184-6.

19. Pereira JV, Bergamo DC, Pereira JO, et al. Antimicrobial activity of Arctium lappa constituents against microorganisms commonly found in endodontic infections. Braz Dent. J 2005;16(3):192-6.

20. Imai H, Osawa K, Yasuda H, et al. Inhibition by the essential oils of peppermint and spearmint of the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Microbios. 2001;106 Suppl 1:31-9.

21. Shin EM, Zhou HY, Guo LY, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of glycyrol isolated from Glycyrrhiza uralensis (Leguminosae) in LPS-induced RAW264.7 macrophages. Int Immunopharmacol. 2008 Jul 10. Published online ahead of print.

22. Nose M, Terawaki K, Oguri K, et al. Activation of macrophages by crude polysaccharide fractions obtained from shoots of Glycyrrhiza glabra and hairy roots of Glycyrrhiza uralensis in vitro. Biol Pharm Bull. 1998 Oct;21(10):1110-2.

23. Cinatl J, Morgenstern B, Bauer G, et al. Glycyrrhizin, an active component of liquorice roots, and replication of SARS-associated coronavirus. Lancet. 2003 Jun 14;361(9374):2045-6.

24. Kang H, Oh YJ, Choi HY, et al. Immunomodulatory effect of Schizonepeta tenuifolia water extract on mouse Th1/Th2 cytokine production in-vivo and in-vitro. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2008 Jul;60(7):901-7.

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