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Colds and the flu are the most frequent illness infections that we as Americans ‘catch’ and they affect all age groups. Every year these illnesses occur and spread through our society.  While the Cold and the Flu are both caused by viruses, they are not relegated to a certain time of year but can attack at any time.  The reason they show up more during the winter and the so called ‘cold season’ is because people are forced to stay indoors more due to the weather and therefore increase the chance of spreading the infections from one person to another.

Pretty much everyone has had at least some form of cold or flu during their life.  It’s never fun and for some people the flu can actually be deadly.

So what do we really know about the causes and extent of colds and flu in this country and what can be done to keep from getting sick with these viruses? The following statistics provide an up-to-date look at this common public health problem.

• During a typical year, Americans suffer 1 billion colds. (SOURCE: the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

• Children typically have more colds because they are often in close contact with each other at school and daycares.  They can have about 6 to 10 colds a year.  (SOURCE: NIAID).

• Adults, on the other hand, average about 2 to 4 colds a year.  This number can vary widely depending on work situations and overall health. Women, especially those aged 20 to 30 years, have more colds than men.  This could be due to the fact that they have closer contact with children. (SOURCE: NIAID).

• It is estimated 10 to 20 percent of all Americans come down with the flu each year during flu season.  Children are two to three times more likely than adults to get sick with the flu, and children frequently spread the virus to others.  This is most likely caused by the same closeness factor previously mentioned. (SOURCE: NIAID).

• Even though the flu is just another “not so fun” illness for most people, for some it can become deadly.  Every year more than 100,000 people are hospitalized and about 36,000 people die from the flu and its complications every year. UPDATE: I have done some more research and found that the actual flu only has several hundred deaths linked to it each year, the CDC just assumes the deaths from pneumonia where caused as a complication due to the flu. (SOURCE: Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

• The cold and flu season creates an enormous impact on the economy. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) estimates that, in 1996, 62 million cases of the common cold in the United States required medical attention or resulted in restricted activity. In 1996, colds caused 45 million days of restricted activity and 22 million days lost from school. UPDATE: After more research I found that a 40 year study showed getting a flu shot did NOT decrease the number of days missed from work. (SOURCE: NCHS).

• Statistics for the United States show that most colds occur during the winter months of September through March or April. (SOURCE: NIAID).

• One reason for the increase is due to the fact that most cold and flu viruses survive better when humidity is low in the colder months of the year. Cold weather may also make the inside lining of the nose drier and more vulnerable to viral infection. (SOURCE: NIAID).

• More than 200 different viruses are known to cause the symptoms of the common cold and approximately 10 to 15 percent of adult colds are caused by viruses also responsible for other, more severe illnesses. (SOURCE: NIAID).

• Sometimes it is difficult to determine if you have a cold or the flu at the onset of the illness because some of the symptoms of the cold and flu are similar. Colds typically begin slowly and usually have symptoms of a scratchy, sore throat followed by sneezing, a runny nose and possibly, a cough several days later. The flu on the other hand is often associated with sudden onset combined with a headache, dry cough and the chills and these symptoms quickly become more severe than those of a cold. Fever of up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit is also common. (SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

Stress is factor that can increase the susceptibility to the common cold and the flu because stress can reduce the ability for you immune system to function to it full capacity. This fact was demonstrated in a study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where test subjects injected with influenza A virus that reported greater psychological stress before inoculation experienced more severe symptoms. (SOURCE: NIAID)

• People with a compromised immune system are the most likely to contract a cold or the flu. Some of the factors that weaken the immune system are stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of physical exercise, exposure to environmental toxins, and allergies. Health problems, such as raised blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and diabetes, also play a role in lowering the body’s defenses. (SOURCE: Complementary Medicine Magazine)

• Studies have shown a link between interferon and your body’s ability to kill many common cold and flu viruses.  (Interferon is a protein that is a component of the immune system.) One therapy involves the one-time injection of the drug interferon alpha but this treatment may cause side effects, such as flu-like symptoms and nosebleeds. (SOURCE: FDA)

A better way to boost your body’s natural interferon levels is to maintain a balanced diet containing fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  These nutrients are very important in keeping the immune system functioning effectively. The problem is that many Americans have nutritionally deficient diets.  This makes the fact that there is now a supplement containing herbs that have immunoactive properties that much more important.  Immunoactive is a fancy way of saying the supplement has the right herbs in the right amounts to work together in combination to naturally increase the body’s production of interferon.  Remember that Interferon is the protein that triggers the body’s immune system to mount an immune response.  Basically interferon will boost your immune system.

Simply put:

Herbal Supplement + Your Body = More  Natural Interferon

More Natural Interferon = More Immune System Response = Less Cold and Flu


Its definitely something to think about!

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More and more the consensus is to not do animal testing.  It is usually cruel in some fashion or another no matter how kind or wonderful the researchers are.  That is just the nature of testing and research.  Quite often the researchers are testing drugs or new products that could cause or cure a disease.  So how could that ever be humane.

The problem: How do you test the validity and effectiveness of these new drugs and products before you put them on the market for humans to use.

Clinical studies have become the “Gold” standard for determining the effectiveness of these new drugs and nutrition products.  It was often difficult to achieve the goal without performing tests and so animals were nominated as test subjects.

This was the problem and one companies solution to the problem.

The Shaklee Corporation has made a commitment not to use any animal studies in the testing of their products.

Recently they had to come up with a very ingenious plan for there latest research project in order to maintain this commitment of no animal testing.  I thought it was pretty impressive, and if you are an animal lover you might think so too!

Shaklee has an immune boosting supplement called Nutriferon.  They wanted to do some basic research on how Nutriferon might work to prevent viral infections in the lungs.  They asked research scientists from Cornell University to help them conduct these experiments.

Cornell has some of the world’s top experts in the field of immunology and the development of model systems that can be used instead of relying on animal studies.  A perfect fit for what Shaklee wanted to have done.

In order to conduct the research properly, the scientists from Cornell asked Shaklee to support some of their research into developing a model system that would simulate the layers of cells that line the lungs and windpipe.  This would keep the research animal free while still allowing the research to see how cells would respond to viral infections.

Even though developing this model did not involve any Shaklee products and was really of no direct benefit to Shaklee, the company agreed to support its development.

Well, long story short, the Cornell scientists have already used this new model to show how the lungs respond to a particular type of parainfluenza virus that is responsible for croup and bronchitis in children.

So Shaklee, a health and wellness company, was indirectly involved in creating a model to further science that can help people (kids in this case) stay healthier.  This research didn’t do anything to sell more products or make more money, it was research for the good of people.  (I think that is pretty cool.)

Now of coarse the reason all this came up in the first place is because Shaklee was interested in performing research to determine how Nutriferon helps the lungs resist infection by flu viruses.

The final results of that study have not been published yet, but the study did show that Nutriferon activates “natural killer cells” when a flu virus infects lung tissue.

This is significant because natural killer cells are an important player when it comes to “killing” a flu virus.  Nutriferon had already been shown to help fight viral infections but it was never known how it did this.  This research is one more important piece of the puzzle that shows the Nutiferon is effective.

This is just one more example showing that large corporations can do well for themselves while doing good for the community and mankind.

It is something to think about!