Our immune systems are withstanding more assaults than ever; here’s how to help your community realize how to nourish this system all year long to create a foundation of wellness.
The more your customers take care of “it”—the more “it” will take care of them. “It” is the precious and incredibly complex immune system.
Unfortunately, for the majority of us—our “it” is under continuous pressure, some would say even, attack. Promoting healthy immune function is no longer seasonal, and ensuring that members of your community understand that and become proactive will be highly appreciated.
Many experts will certainly attest that throughout time, the human immune system was always vulnerable to its current conditions; yet some staunchly believe that never in our history (past and recent) has the human immune system been so abjectly assaulted.
Mark J. Kaylor, founder of Radiant Health Project in Georgia, stated, “While humankind has obviously always been in need of a healthy and functioning immune system, it is likely that it is of even greater necessity today than ever before. There are a number of factors related to our lifestyle and world we live in that place extra and unprecedented demand upon our immune systems.”
Chiefly and no surprise is a typical diet of manufactured foods and beverages, as opposed to a diet consisting mostly of locally grown, fresh resources. Not only are millions of people ingesting significantly higher amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugars (which Kaylor said suppresses immune function within minutes after consumption), but there are sundry chemicals for preservation/shelf stability, colors, texturizers, etc., and if produce is not organic, residues of pesticides. Add to this blitzkrieg of man-made chemical assaults toxins floating around in the environment.
Further, unless one is an ardent fitness center-goer, people tend to be much more sedentary (especially children) than in previous generations. Cameron Moeller, ND, marketing manager for American Biotech Labs, asserted that the need for immune support supplements has never been greater than now. “The average person today gets limited exercise and their diet is less than ideal. Environmental toxins are becoming more prevalent in the food we eat and even the air we breathe,” he asserted. Hank Cheatham, vice president, marketing and sales for California-based Daiwa Health Development, pointed to the increased prevalence of illnesses as demonstrative of the need for increased supplementation to support healthy immune function. Similarly, Tina Anderson, president of Illinois-based Just Thrive Probiotic, said the need for immune support is “dire, considering the pandemic we are facing with autoimmune disease and immune dysfunctions like childhood asthma.”
Autoimmunity affects approximately 50 million Americans, she noted, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that asthmatic children miss a compounded total of approximately 14 million school days annually.
She explained, “A common misconception is that immune-support just means up-regulating the immune system to help fight off colds and flu, but true immune support actually encompasses all facets of the immune system, including immune dysfunctions like allergies, asthma and autoimmune disease.”
Also, allopathic treatments may impede normal or healthy immune functioning—consider the ads for psoriasis treatments, which caution that the patient may have compromised immunity and be more vulnerable to infections. “Current health modalities used when a person is sick are becoming less effective by the day, and more expensive,” said Moeller. “Immune system support supplements are an easy step that anyone can take in giving their bodies a first line of defense against the challenges our bodies face daily.”
Cheatham agreed, noting, “Coping with health issues is a major concern in modern times especially as one ages, but it doesn’t have to mean giving up one’s quality of life. A healthy immune system provides the strength to endure aggressive medical treatments, such as toxic prescription medications. A strong immune response provides the power to fight illness and the vitality to get more out of life.”
Promoting Perennial Immunity
As mentioned, it is still the norm for many Americans to immediately equate “immune health” with “winter ails.”
The fact does remain that immune-support supplementation during the wintertime is certainly not for naught—folks tend to become more susceptible to viruses, which are at peak in the cold temperatures, but also because hibernation becomes habitual and vitamin D levels drop dramatically due to not being exposed to sunrays. Add to this the proximity of other people which increases spreading and sharing of viruses and bacteria—and the lower one’s immune system is functioning, the higher the chances that that person will soon be felled by a “bug” occupying his/her body.
But the concept of confining immune “boosting” for winter is not only shallow or narrow-minded, it can be deleterious. As retailers, the message that nourishing one’s immune system should be a normal daily activity all year long, year after year can create a sense of deeper loyalty among customers and the community.
Chad Bradford, president of Texas-based retailer Sunflower Shoppe (with three locations), said that “allergies are one of the most common immune health questions we are asked about. We help guide the customer to a product that matches their needs. Also, we may share success stories that other customers may have had with the same product. However, many times you can’t stop there. It’s very important for consumers to understand how to support their immune systems in other ways. Some of those areas include gut health, inflammation, avoiding or reducing stressors, and more if needed.”
In Montana, Sheryl Eaglewoman of Mountain Valley Foods said the concerns she and her staff see most commonly with their customers include “respiratory health, especially during fire season, and seasonal complaints such as winter time cold and flu season as well as springtime allergies.”
However, often when consumers enter Garner’s Natural Life in South Carolina, they are already experiencing symptoms, said Sherri McCall, CNHP. “Most of the time, they come see us when they are already sick; this is our opportunity to help them get better and also to discuss how they can build up their immune systems to better fight against that sickness.”
Moeller pointed out that in the spring and summer there are different factors that can negatively impact the immune system, and these tend to be overlooked. In the springtime, flora bursting forth release extremely high levels of allergens, which puts stress on the immune system. And as people emerge from hibernation to bask in the new warmth, they are increasing their exposure to environmental toxins, including lawn-care chemicals.
In the summertime, many people tend to loll on towels or chairs under the sun, overexposing themselves to UV rays, which also suppresses immune function; a visible example of this is the appearance of a “cold sore” in many people with Herpes simplex 1 after the first intense sun exposure.
Additionally, stated Moeller, “Our risk of food poisoning is also higher in the summer months because the higher temperatures increase the speed with which food-borne pathogens can grow and spread. Some types of seafood that are more commonly associated with food poisoning, such as oysters, are at their peak in the summer. We also tend to grill more foods during the summer like chicken, pork, steaks and hamburgers, and if they are not cooked properly, can make us sick. Taking an immune support supplement daily is a small and easy step that can aid our immune systems in their daily battles against whatever life throws at them.”
Healthy immune support is not limited to what seasonal assaults lie in wait, according to Anderson, who believes that “a highly prevalent danger is the immune system going haywire and attacking the body, as in the case of autoimmune conditions. Additionally, it’s the responsibility of the immune system to detoxify the body, remove dead cells and to even prevent the development of cancer cells. So the immune system is always working and its function is always critical, not just seasonally.”
Among products addressing such needs, Oreganol P-73 “is the only oregano safe for daily use all year long to keep the immune system strong,” emphasized Judy Gray, owner of Indiana-based North American Herb & Spice. “Recommend Oreganol first when a customer feels he or she needs help, at any time of the year. Plus, customers can use it for daily antioxidant protection. Oreganol P-73 can be rubbed on topically and/or also taken internally for best and quick results,” she added.
In Kaylor’s view, the problem with focusing primarily on boosting immunity to withstand the common cold and related conditions, is that this focus “fails to recognize the reality that the immune system is involved in so much more than fighting or prevent a cold or flu. Cancer is not seasonal. Brain health is not as well—and it was recently discovered that the immune system plays a very significant role in not just brain health but the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as well. Systemic inflammation, a major element of every chronic disease, is an immune activity that also does not limit itself to the winter. The list goes on and on.”
The integrated relationships between immune support and brain support—as well as immune support and healthy inflammatory response support—clearly points to cross-merchandising opportunities. This further creates the opportunity for customers to learn just how inter-dependent their bodily systems are regarding supporting brain health, etc., with immune health through immune health.
The gateway for consumer understanding about how their immune systems work is seasonal, however, because this is the already established link in their minds. Perhaps your store can provide quarterly (seasonal) immune health workshops where natural health experts can teach consumers how and why to support their immune status. Here, you and your experts can potentially provide customized immune-support regimens, based on answers to specific lifestyle habit questions.
At Sunflower Shoppe, said Bradford, employees educate their consumers about immune support through “spending time with them, store signage, literature, free health seminars at our locations, and corporate health events.”
Eaglewoman at Mountain Valley Foods noted her staff purposefully sets an example of healthy living and “we have an educated staff that is willing to offer good, solid and proven information.”
At Garner’s Natural Life, the community learns about natural immune health through literature and samples, especially since “people love trying things for free and love taking materials home,” McCall shared. “We also are very involved with community events and health fairs.”
There are numerous products to boost an immune support section, and sources offer a varied approach to bolstering immunity with nutraceutical approaches.
Among these, Silver Biotics from American Biotech Labs is an “advanced daily supplement that harnesses the power of our patented SilverSol Technology to support the immune system,” noted Moeller. “It is doctor recommended and backed by hundreds of reports and studies. It is ideal for daily use by both children and adults, and is safe and effective. Silver Biotics is the top-selling silver supplement on the market, because it works very well at supporting the immune system.”
Just Thrive, said Anderson, is formulated with unique Bacillus endospores, which reportedly survive the gastric system to arrive alive and intact in the intestinal tract, where they have been shown to interact with gut-associated immune tissue to modulate favorable immune response.
“They are the ultimate immune trainers,” she stated, adding that spore-based probiotics have been shown to support human immune response by triggering critical immune proliferating cytokines. Spores stimulate Peyer’s patches, the primary centers of T-cell and B-cell proliferation, critical in anti-viral activity. Spores also increase toll-like receptor activity, which shuttles the body to a Th1 adaptive immune response, and increases pattern recognition where the immune system better recognizes vital antigens (thereby reducing the attack of non-harmful antigens), Anderson said.
Studies using spores as vaccine delivery vehicles have shown that they have the ability to increase anti-viral and anti-bacterial immune response in the gut mucosa, which is then seen in other mucosal tissues as well, such as the nasopharynx, urogenital and pulmonary. Anderson said in one study, according to the researchers, the anti-viral benefits of Bacillus subtilis spores increased “antibody and T cell responses to a co-administered soluble antigen, but also broadened them, to include both antigen specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses, as well as complement and non-complement fixing antibody isotypes. Spores augmented specific IgA to co-administered antigen both in the local respiratory and distal vaginal mucosa.”
Herbal medicine has several categories that strongly affect and support the various parts of the immune system, explained David Winston, RH(AHG), Herbalist & Alchemist of New Jersey. “Immune amphoterics are tonics or ‘food for the immune system.’ They enhance normal function and help re-regulate a depressed, over active or dysregulated immune response. This means they are appropriate support for those with hypo-immune conditions, as well as allergies and auto-immune issues.”
Common Immune amphoterics include reishi, maitake, astragalus, ashwagandha, American or Asian ginseng and schisandra. According to Winston, “allergies (overactive immune response) or auto-immune conditions (which are usually hyperactive and hypoactive at the same time) also require the use of immunoregulatory herbs which are systemic anti-inflammatories that inhibit the deposition of immune complexes.” Herbs in this category include bupleurum, gotu kola, turmeric, sarsaparilla, Salvia miltiorrhiza, Scutellaria baicalensis and boswellia.
Herbalist & Alchemist provides a wide variety of herbal supplements that provide nourishing immune system support. These include Immune Adapt (capsules and liquid), Seven Precious Mushrooms, Immune Balance Compound, Echinacea/Goldenseal Compound, Astragalus/Echinacea Compound, Ultimate Echinacea, VX Immune Support, Healthy Kid’s Compound, Fit Adapt and Immune Support Kit.
Rice Bran Arabinoxylan Compound (RBAC) is the active ingredient in PeakImmune4, from Daiwa Health Development Inc. The RBAC in PeakImmune4 is a polysaccharide dietary fiber derived from rice bran and modified by an enzyme from Shiitake mushrooms, using a patented biotechnology process.
Cheatham explained that it strengthens the immune system by increasing the level of T cells and research has shown that PeakImmune4 can triple natural killer (NK) cell activity, increase helper T cells, and demonstrate vital antioxidant and immune balancing activity. He noted that pre-clinical studies have shown that the RBAC contained in PeakImmune4 increased the T cell levels up to 200 percent. The enhanced activity of helper T cells supports the proliferation of cytotoxic T and B cells. B cells promote a healthy production of antibodies to combat viral and bacterial infections.
“PeakImmune4 can also strengthen and increase the population of macrophage and induces the production of cytokines, especially tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), gamma-interferon, Interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interleukin-12 (IL-12),” Cheatham added. “It is important to note that RBAC is clinically shown to be a true immune modulator. It will optimize the immune response and not allow the immune system to over-simulate.”
Whether your customers love eating them or hate them on their plates, mushrooms have extraordinary properties for immune wellness, said Kaylor. “Medicinal mushrooms are a diverse, long-used, and well-researched group of tonic remedies that also offer some very specific more therapeutically oriented benefits. Hundreds of mushrooms have demonstrated powerful immune supporting benefits. Many have also been confirmed as effective adjunct therapies that combine well with conventional treatments. Along with this they often bring a holistic array of supportive actions that can contribute to a robustly functioning immune system.”
While many mushrooms have been shown to boost immune system activity, Kaylor said, comparative studies on the Maitake D-Fraction from Mushroom Wisdom, New Jersey, demonstrated it may be the most potent for immunity. Reishi also provides immune and whole body balancing activities that help maintain healthy function while supporting virtually every body system and organ.
“Reishi is so effective and diverse in its healing gifts that I have coined the phrase ‘tonic for the 21st century’ to best describe its activities,” he said.
Chaga mushroom also can strengthen the body as a whole, reduce inflammation, and fight free radicals while boosting immune function.
And while your customers may not feel they are immune to people and things that annoy them, they can certainly feel a greater sense of inner well-being and strength that is accorded to them by an optimally functioning immune system. VR
For More Information:
American Biotech Labs, (801) 756-1000
Daiwa Health Development Inc., (866) 475-4810
Herbalist & Alchemist, (908) 689-9020
Mushroom Wisdom, (800) 747-7418
North American Herb & Spice, (800) 473-4780
Radiant Health Project, (678) 310-0862, www.radianthealthproject.com
Thrive, (877) 788-1100