The hype around the flu seems to be at a all time high right now. I have not checked the flu-tracker or asked around much because does it really matter. I take care of myself and my family, we try to eat well most of the time, get enough sleep and practice a healthy lifestyle. If we do get the flu then I will work on supporting our health through it and relieving the symptoms. There are no guarantees.
I looked backed through the Galen's Watch issues and scanned for studies that either helped shorten the duration of acute illness or helped lower it's incidence.
- Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes
- Vitamin D Supplementation in School-aged Children Reduces Incidence of Influenza A
- Probiotics Reduce Number of Missed School Days in Children
- Intake of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei Reduce the Risk of Acquiring the Common Cold
- Whey Supplementation Stimulates Immune Response
- Fermented Dairy Product (Lactobacillus casei DN-114001) Decreases Common Infectious Diseases in the Elderly
- DHA Supplementation During Pregnancy Influenced Colds in Children at 1,3 and 6 Months
Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes
Seven hundred and fifty-five healthy subjects were allocated to receive either an alcohol extract from freshly harvested E. purpurea* (95% herba and 5% root) or placebo. Participants swallowed 3 × 0.9mL per day for illness prevention. This corresponded to 2400mg of extract per day. During acute stages of colds, the participants were instructed to increase the dose to 5 × 0.9mL per day; this totaled a daily dose of 4000mg of extract. Each single dose was diluted in water and retained in the mouth for 10s. A total of 293 adverse events occurred with Echinacea and 306 with placebo treatment. Echinacea reduced the total number of cold episodes, cumulated episode days within the group, and pain-killer medicated episodes. Echinacea inhibited virally confirmed colds and especially prevented enveloped virus infections. Echinacea showed maximal effects on recurrent infections, and preventive effects increased with therapy compliance and adherence to the protocol.
*Echinacea product was the commercially available Echinaforce drops produced by A. Vogel Bioforce AG, Switzerland. Echinaforce was prepared by alcoholic (57.3% m/m) extraction from freshly harvested E. purpurea with a combination of 95% herba (DER = 1:12) and 5% roots (DER = 1:11).
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:841315. Epub 2012 Sep 16. Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.
Vitamin D Supplementation in School-aged Children Reduces Incidence of Influenza A
The study randomized 334 school-aged children to either receive vitamin D(3) supplements (1200 IU/day) or placebo for December through March. Influenza A occurred in 10.8% of children in the D3 group and 18.6% of the placebo group. The reduction in influenza A was more predominant in children who had not been taking other vitamin D supplements and who started nursery school after age 3. In children with a previous diagnosis of asthma, two children in the D3 group had asthma attacks compared to 12 in the placebo group.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1255-60. Epub 2010 Mar 10. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren.
Probiotics Reduce Number of Missed School Days in Children
This double-blind, placebo-controlled study randomly assigned 326 children (3-5 years of age) to receive placebo, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, or L acidophilus NCFM in combination with Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis Bi-07 twice a day for 6 months. With single and combination probiotics, but not placebo, reduced fever incidence, coughing incidence and rhinorrhea incidence were observed. Overall, fever, coughing, and rhinorrhea duration was decreased significantly, relative to placebo, by 32% (single strain) and 48% (combination). Antibiotic use and absentee days were also reduced. Results were better for the combination probiotics group than the single strain probiotics group. The researchers concluded that daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe, effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence, duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age. In a 2008 study, it was found that that a regular, long-term intake of various synbiotics may improve health by reducing the incidence and severity of respiratory diseases during the cold season. That 3-stage prospective, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study was carried out over a 3-year period with several synbiotic preparations containing 3-5 strains of Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium lactis, lactoferrin and prebiotics such as either FOS (short-chain fructooligosaccharides) or GOS (galactooligosaccharides).
Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e172-9. Epub 2009 Jul 27. Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children.
J Clin Gastroenterol. 2008 Sep;42 Suppl 3 Pt 2:S224-33.A new chance of preventing winter diseases by the administration of symbiotic formulations.
Intake of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei Reduce the Risk of Acquiring the Common Cold
Two hundred and seventy-two subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 109 cfu (colony forming units) of Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL 9 (DSM 15312) and Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 (DSM 13434) or placebo for 12 weeks. The probiotics group had a 55% reduction in common cold episodes versus 67% for placebo. The number of days with the common cold were also reduced in the probiotic group to 6.2 days compared to 8.6 days in the placebo group. The symptom score was reduced from 44.4 to 33.6 in the probiotic group. The proliferation of B lymphocytes was significantly counteracted in the probiotic group compared to the control group.
Eur J Nutr. 2010 Aug 28. [Epub ahead of print] Randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled study using new probiotic lactobacilli for strengthening the body immune defence against viral infections.
Whey Supplementation Stimulates Immune Response
Seventeen senior citizens were randomly assigned to receive whey (treatment group) or soy (control group) protein for 8 weeks. Four weeks into the study, the participants received a vaccine and antibody levels were measured against 14 pneumococcal types, and a detailed food questionnaire was administered. The serum response was higher in the whey group in 12/14 bacterial types. Whey supplementation led to a higher response in four of the more virulent strains. Calorie and protein intake in the whey group suggested better nutritional status.
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010 Mar;1190(1):97-103. Dairy proteins and the response to pneumovax in senior citizens: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study.
Fermented Dairy Product (Lactobacillus casei DN-114001) Decreases Common Infectious Diseases in the Elderly
This double-blind, controlled trial enrolled 1072 individuals (mean age 76 years) and randomly assigned them to eat either 200 g/day of fermented or non-fermented dairy product for 3 months. The fermented dairy product was Lactobacillus casei DN-114001 (Danone Research). Common Infectious diseases (CID) of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts were recorded for frequency. The fermented dairy product significantly reduced all CID with an average duration per episode of 6.5 days (versus 8 days for the control group) and the cumulative duration of CID was 7 days (versus 8 days for the control). There was also a significant positive change for all respiratory tract infections and rhinopharyngitis. There was an increase in L. casei species throughout the fermented dairy product consumption. There was no difference between groups in CID severity, fever, medication, immune blood parameters, or quality of life.
Br J Nutr. 2010 Jan;103(1):58-68. Epub 2009 Sep 14. Consumption of a fermented dairy product containing the probiotic Lactobacillus casei DN-114001 reduces the duration of respiratory infections in the elderly in a randomised controlled trial.
DHA Supplementation During Pregnancy Influenced Colds in Children at 1,3 and 6 Months
Pregnant women received 400 mg of DHA or placebo from 18-22 weeks gestation through parturition. Data from over 800 infants was collected at 1,3 and 6 months. At one month the DHA group experienced 26% shorter duration of cough, 15% less phlegm and 30% shorter wheezing. There was a 22% longer duration of rash in the DHA group. At 3 months the DHA infants spent 14% less time ill. At 6 months the DHA group experienced 20%, 13%, 54%, 23%, and 25% shorter duration of fever, nasal secretion, difficulty breathing, rash, and "other illness," respectively, but 74% longer duration of vomiting.
Pediatrics. 2011 Sep;128(3):e505-12.Prenatal Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation and Infant Morbidity: Randomized Controlled Trial.
Zinc Acetate Reduces the Duration of the Common Cold by 42%
The review examined the effect of zinc lozenges on the length of the common cold. Thirteen trials were included. There was no effect found in 5 trials that used a daily dose of zinc of less than 75mg. In 5 trials that used more than 75 mg zinc/day there was a 20% reduction in the duration of the cold. The highest reduction of 42% was seen 5 studies using zinc acetate in daily doses over 75 mg.
Open Respir Med J. 2011;5:51-8. Epub 2011 Jun 23.Zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of colds: a systematic review.