influenza

Beat The Flu With Probiotics

If you and your family have stayed healthy throughout this latest flu season — one that many experts say may be one of the worst ever — consider yourselves lucky.

The huge majority of this year’s flu cases in America originates from the H3N2 strain, one that hit Australia hard last year, sending countless patients to hospitals and killing four times more people than the most recent five-year average for a flu season.

Also, treating the flu is very expensive for all of us, accounting for more than $27 billion annually in direct medical expenses and lost wages.

A very timely study appearing in Scientific Reports demonstrates how a single strain of beneficial bacteria may protect you from some of the worst symptoms of the influenza A virus and its many variations.

Scientists at Georgia State University treated mice with a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus casei (one of the 10 strains of beneficial bacteria used in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic) before infecting them with a lethal dose of the influenza A virus.

Surviving the flu

All of the mice that were treated with Lactobacillus casei survived their run-ins with influenza A, according to Dr. Sang-Moo Kang, lead study author and a professor at Georgia State’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences.

Among the survivors, their immune systems were strong enough to resist deadly primary and secondary strains of the flu and protect them from losing weight.

By comparison, the control mice that weren’t treated with Lactobacillus casei experienced severe weight loss within nine days after being infected with the flu, had 18 times more influenza virus in their tiny lungs and eventually died.

These results aren’t surprising, considering the findings of an older study that found treating patients with another proprietary strain of Lactobacillus after giving them a flu shot held onto a protective amount of the vaccine for at least four weeks.

Even if you hate getting a flu shot in the first place, there’s many simple steps you can take to boost your immune system, from washing your hands early and often with plain soap and water (no antibacterial soaps) to getting the right amount of sleep and staying hydrated.

Taking a multi-species probiotic with important strains of beneficial bacteria, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior Probiotic (for kids), can also be a safe and effective non-drug way to protect your family’s health from the flu too.

9 Tips for Staying Healthy this Holiday Season

What a terrific time of the year! We just finished sharing a relaxing turkey meal with family and friends, and now it’s time to focus on preparing for the upcoming holidays. This includes shopping in the malls, enjoying holiday treats and parties, and traveling to visit family and friends or going on a vacation.

Unfortunately, the exposure to others and consuming sweets and alcohol is challenging our immune system. This newsletter is about the top nine ways to boost our immune system and avoid developing cold and flu symptoms during this season.


Some Facts about Cold and Flu

Colds and flu (influenza) are virus infections. Cold and flu viruses attack the lining of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the nose, throat and sinuses. The main symptoms of a cold are sore throat, runny nose, cough and congestion of the nasal passages. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. Additionally, there is no vaccine against the cold viruses since there are too many, and they tend to mutate or change.

Influenza (or flu) is due to two main viruses – type A and B. The symptoms of influenza are similar to the common cold, but are usually more intense and include chills, fever, and body aches. If someone develops the flu, they are generally home ill for at least 2-3 days. Sometimes, especially in children, the illness can be more severe. Flu viruses are constantly changing. Each year the CDC identifies the most common forms of the influenza viruses and develops a vaccine.

The viruses for cold and flu are very contagious and transmission occurs mainly by inhalation of virally infected droplets from coughs and sneezes from infected individuals. Additionally, touching objects infected by droplets and then putting your fingers to your mouth or nose is another source of exposure.


New Study: Probiotic Benefits for Preventing Cold and Flu

Before listing the nine top tips on having a healthy holiday season, I want to report on a recent medical article. There have actually been a number of published clinical studies on the positive benefits of probiotics for the prevention of cold and flu symptoms.

The most recent article by Hao and his associates(1) reviewed 14 randomized clinical trials studying the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections. This study compared probiotics with a placebo. The studies involved 3451 children and adults. They found that the group taking probiotics had less cold and flu episodes and required fewer antibiotic prescriptions than the group taking a placebo. Probiotics reduced the number of individuals who had at least one acute upper respiratory tract infection by 42 percent.

It’s also important to note that side effects of probiotics were minor.

Now…9 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season

  • Get the flu vaccine
  • Eat at least 6-8 daily servings of fruits and vegetables to boost the immune system(2)
  • Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep(3)
  • Maintain hydration
  • Exercise 30 minutes at least 5 days a week(4)
  • Avoid crowds if possible
  • Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizers after touching potentially infected surfaces
  • Take a high quality probiotic…like EndoMune Advanced and EndoMune Junior
  • If you think you have the flu or have been exposed to someone with the flu, contact your physician as you may benefit from taking one of anti-viral flu medications


Thank You!

On a personal note, this is the fifth year that I have written a December newsletter. I want to say that developing EndoMune has turned out to be one of the most gratifying professional activities in my medical career. Researching the latest medical studies on the benefits of probiotics has been challenging, but stimulating. So many people have shared with me how EndoMune has had such a positive effect on their health.

Thank you for your continued support of EndoMune Advanced and EndoMune Junior. We are continuing to work on maintaining the highest quality probiotics and developing new ones.

My very best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season and New Year!


REFERENCES

(1) Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections.Hao Q, Lu Z, Dong BR, Huang CQ, Wu T.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Sep 7;9

(2) Am J Lifestyle Med. 2009 Jul;3(1 Suppl):39S-43S. Functional Foods as Modifiers of Cardiovascular Disease. Johnston C.

(3)Sleep and immune function.Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J.Pflugers Arch. 2011 Nov 10.

(4) Current perspective on exercise immunology. Nieman DC.Curr Sports Med Rep. 2003 Oct;2(5):239-42. Review.

Can Probiotics Help Protect Against the Flu?

What a wonderful time of the year! October is just the beginning of the cooler weather and the varied, inspiring fall colors. Beyond the changes in nature, it’s the time when we all begin to feel the spirit of the joyful holiday season, and gather closer with family and friends.

There is one drawback: fall also ushers in the flu season. In the next several weeks, the flu season will start. According to the latest CDC report, two states (Hawaii and Texas) already report a slight increase in flu cases.

Before we begin to unpack those seasonal decorations, we should all start taking precautions to avoid the flu – especially getting the flu vaccine. If you are prone to making excuses against the vaccine, here are some flu facts to keep in mind concerning the US population:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu
  • More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications
  • About 23,500 people die from flu; 80% of such deaths occur in persons aged 65 years and older.

At this point you may be wondering why we are discussing the flu in monthly probiotic newsletter. Great question!

Probiotics are Effective Blockade

Recently, there have been some very interesting medical studies reviewing the benefits of probiotics with regard to the flu. More specifically, how a probiotic might lessen the risk of contracting the flu and/or decrease flu symptoms.

In one such experiment, orally administered lactobacilli bacteria successfully assisted the immune cells to produce antibodies within the bronchial airway(1). Another investigation found that giving probiotics two weeks before the flu vaccine injection increased the immune system’s antibody response, as compared to the placebo control group(2).

Two recent studies were conducted to specifically evaluate the benefits of taking probiotics during the flu season.

The first investigation was completed with 356 children ages 3-5 years old attending daycare(4). The children who took a probiotic twice a day (the other group took a placebo) experienced the following benefits:

  • More than two-thirds less fevers (72%)
  • 62% less coughs, and 59% less runny noses
  • Duration of illness was nearly HALF of that in the placebo group (48%)
  • Missed 38% less school days, and used 84% less antibiotics

The other study(5) was conducted on 250 healthy adults. Two different probiotic preparations were used, and there was also a control group who received a placebo. As compared to the control group, the two groups who consumed probiotics for 90 days during the cold and flu season experienced these astounding benefits:

  • 41% less number of infections
  • 25% less severity of infections
  • 25% decrease in the length of infections
  • 27% reduced days out from work.

What Can You Do to Avoid Getting the Flu This Season?

The single, most important step is to get the flu vaccine. A vaccine is your insurance against the flu – it may not stop contraction of the flu, but it will greatly decrease your symptoms, helping you to get healthy much more quickly.

Additionally, here are 5 healthy habits to avoid the flu:

  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep
  • Eat healthy, fruits and vegetables which help to support the immune system
  • Exercise and regular workouts enhance the immune system
  • Avoid crowds and people who are coughing and sneezing
  • Wash your hands or use sanitizers after touching public objects

And based on the findings from the studies discussed above, it is extremely worthwhile to add a good probiotic like EndoMune to your daily regimen.

Eat healthy, exercise and live well!
Dr. Hoberman

References:

(1) Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 1999 May-Aug;12(2):97-102.Influence of the  oral administration of lactic acid bacteria on iga producing cells associated to bronchus.Perdigon GAlvarez SMedina MVintiñi ERoux E

(2) Nutrition. 2007 Mar;23(3):254-60.Oral intake of Lactobacillus fermentum CECT5716 enhances the effects of influenza vaccination.Olivares MDíaz-Ropero MPSierra SLara-Villoslada FFonollá JNavas MRodríguez JMXaus J

(3) Effect of long term consumption of probiotic milk on infections in children attending day care centres: double blind, randomised trial.Hatakka K, Savilahti E, Pönkä A, Meurman JH, Poussa T, Näse L, Saxelin M, Korpela R.BMJ. 2001 Jun 2;322(7298):1327

(4) Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e172-9. Epub 2009 Jul 27.Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children.Leyer GJLi SMubasher MEReifer COuwehand AC

(5) J Clin Gastroenterol. 2008 Sep;42 Suppl 3 Pt 2:S224-33.A new chance of preventing winter diseases by the administration of synbiotic formulations.Pregliasco FAnselmi GFonte LGiussani FSchieppati SSoletti L.

Should You Take a Probiotic During Flu Season?

Everyday in the news there are updates about this year’s flu season, especially about the H1N1 virus (Swine flu).  By all accounts, the infectivity rate is going to be very high.

We have all heard the recommendations:

  • Get the vaccine
  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid crowds
  • Don’t sneeze or cough into your hands
  • Drink lots of fluid, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise and get 7 hours of sleep

Is there any other preventive therapy that is over the counter and without any adverse effects? You guessed it, PROBIOTICS!!

This month in the medical journal, Pediatrics, a study was published: “Probiotics Effects on Cold and Influenza-like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children” (1).

Method: Healthy children ages 3-5 were randomly placed in one of three groups: 104 received a placebo; 110 received a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus; 112 received a probiotic containing L acidophilus in combination with Bifidobacterium lactis. The children were given the probiotics daily for 6 months and monitored for cold and influenza-like symptoms.

Results: Compared to the placebo group, single and combination probiotics reduced the following symptoms, antibiotic usage, and reduction in days missed from school:

Conclusion: Daily intake of a probiotic supplement for 6 months during the cold and flu season was a safe and effective way to reduce the frequency of symptoms of colds and flu, reduce antibiotic usage and lessen missed days from school. A two strain probiotic in a dosage of 10 billon colonies is very beneficial.

Discussion: So I imagine you are all saying, “that is very interesting, but I am not a 3 year old.”

Well, there have been a number of studies (2,3,4,5,6) done over the last 4-5 years to determine if probiotics can lessen or prevent viral upper respiratory infections in not only children but also healthy adults, young and old.

One study done on healthy adults investigated the effect of long-term consumption of probiotics on viral respiratory infections during two winter/spring periods (4). The combination of a probiotic containing lactobacilli and bifidobacteriaa successfully shortened the duration of cold infections by two days and reduced the severity of symptoms. The incidence of infections, however, was not affected.

Another published paper did a systematic review of probiotics efficacy in preventing respiratory tract infections (5). Twelve controlled trials were reviewed, half reviewed adults and the other half reviewed children and infants. While the trials varied in duration of probiotic taken, dosage and type of bacterial strain, most of the trials noted a significant reduction in the severity of symptoms, but not the incidence of infection. A few did report a decrease in the frequency of infections.

There is a considerable amount of research being directed toward the mechanisms by which orally ingested probiotics can affect the immune system to lessen viral respiratory infections. Studies have shown that use of probiotics can stimulate the immune system in the gastrointestinal tract, producing more immune cells. In turn, those immune cells can stop inflammation and can also attack the viruses as they invade the lining of the respiratory tract (4, 7, 8, 9). The stimulated immune cells can migrate from the GI tract to other areas of the body…including the respiratory tract.

Take Home Message

With these kinds of study results, it seems reasonable during the flu season to take a daily probiotic that contains a combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in a serving size or dosage of 10 billon colonies or more — like EndoMune.

Thank you for your interest in EndoMune.
Eat healthy, exercise and live well!!

Larry Hoberman MD

(1)Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children.Leyer GJ, Li S, Mubasher ME, Reifer C, Ouwehand AC; Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e172-9. Epub 2009 Jul 27

(2) Effect of a dietary supplement containing probiotic bacteria plus vitamins and minerals on common cold infections and cellular immune parameters. Winkler P, de Vrese M, Laue Ch, Schrezenmeir J; Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Jul;43(7):318-26.

(3)A new chance of preventing winter diseases by the administration of synbiotic formulations.Pregliasco F, Anselmi G, Fonte L, Giussani F, Schieppati S, Soletti L; J Clin Gastroenterol. 2008 Sep;42 Suppl 3 Pt 2:S224-33.

(4) Probiotic bacteria reduced duration and severity but not the incidence of common cold episodes in a double blind, randomized, controlled trial.de Vrese M, Winkler P, Rautenberg P, Harder T, Noah C, Laue C, Ott S, Hampe J, Schreiber S, Heller K, Schrezenmeir J; Vaccine. 2006 Nov 10;24(44-46):6670-4. Epub 2006 Jun 6.

(5) Probiotics for the prevention of respiratory tract infections: a systematic review.Vouloumanou EK, Makris GC, Karageorgopoulos DE, Falagas ME; Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2009 Sep;34(3):197.e1-10. Epub 2009 Jan 28.
Probiotics in intestinal and non-intestinal infectious diseases–clinical evidence.
Hatakka K, Saxelin M; Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(14):1351-67. Review.

(6) Effect of fermented milk containing the probiotic Lactobacillus casei DN-114001 on winter infections in free-living elderly subjects: a randomised, controlled pilot study.Turchet P, Laurenzano M, Auboiron S, Antoine JM; J Nutr Health Aging. 2003;7(2):75-7.

(7) Probiotics in intestinal and non-intestinal infectious diseases–clinical evidence. Hatakka K, Saxelin M; Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(14):1351-67. Review.

(8) Molecular and cellular basis of microflora-host interactions.Winkler P, Ghadimi D, Schrezenmeir J, Kraehenbuhl JP; J Nutr. 2007 Mar;137(3 Suppl 2):756S-72S. Review.

(9) Probiotic and prebiotic influence beyond the intestinal tract. Lenoir-Wijnkoop I, Sanders ME, Cabana MD, Caglar E, Corthier G, Rayes N, Sherman PM, Timmerman HM, Vaneechoutte M, Van Loo J, Wolvers DA; Nutr Rev. 2007 Nov;65(11):469-89. Review

Probiotics Prevent Colds in Children?

“When given preventively over the winter months, probiotics reduce fever, cough, and runny noses in children, researchers said.”

This is very exciting news for parents across the country. Many parents deal with the frustration of sick children during the winter months and the many associated problems including missed school, missed work and restless nights.

A recent study evaluated 326 children ages 3 to 5 years. Two groups of these children in a childcare center in China were given “twice-daily doses of L. acidophilus or L. acidophilus in combination with Bifidobacterium animalis for six months from November 2005 to May 2006.” The third group was given a placebo.

Both the single strain and the multi-strain probiotic doses were effective at reducing fever, cough, and rhinorrhea; the combination strain, however, had a more profound, positive impact. This seems to imply multi-strain, multi-species probiotics continue to prove more efficacy for prevention rather than their single-strain counterparts.

With profound research studies, such as this study in China, physicians may be able to begin moving away from antibiotics toward other forms of prevention like probiotics. While more studies are necessary, probiotic research continues to move forward in a very exciting direction.

For the article in its entirety, visit:
http://www.medpagetoday.com/Pediatrics/GeneralPediatrics/15251

Source reference:
Leyer GJ, et al “Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children” Pediatrics 2009; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2008-2666.

Scroll to Top