From a recent Nutritional Outlook publication:
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that colonize the intestinal tract to maintain its delicate microbial balance.
Prebiotics are substances that support the growth of healthy bacteria preferentially to crowd out the less-healthy flora and promote digestive health by enhancing the production of beneficial short-chain fatty acids. And compounds that directly activate or modulate immune processes support health by optimizing multiple aspects of immune function.
EpiCor is a complex fermentation product from baker’s yeast containing antioxidants, protein, beta-glucans, fiber, polyphenols, vitamins, amino acids, and other metabolites. Several studies attest to EpiCor’s ability to modulate immune function. In a recent investigation led by Sam Possemiers from Ghent University in Belgium, EpiCor was studied using the SHIME model (described earlier) and found to have a prebiotic-like effect on gastrointestinal flora.5Changes observed included alterations in general flora profile, reduction of pathogenic strains, and increased levels of healthy Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Researchers observed an increase in butyrate production and a significant decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Clinical studies support EpiCor’s ability to promote a healthy immune response in humans. Mark Moyad, the director of preventive and complementary medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center, led a study investigating the effects of EpiCor on allergies and allergic rhinitis.6 This 12-week, placebo-controlled trial included 96 healthy subjects with a documented history of seasonal allergies and allergic rhinitis. The subjects received 500 mg of EpiCor daily or a placebo. Participants were examined at baseline and then followed up at 6 and 12 weeks. EpiCor administration significantly reduced the severity of allergic rhinitis symptoms, specifically nasal congestion and runny nose. The EpiCor group experienced 12.5 fewer days of nasal congestion compared to the placebo group and had significantly elevated salivary IgA levels (an antibody associated with enhanced mucosal immunity).
An additional 12-week study also led by Mark Moyad looked at the impact of EpiCor on cold and flu symptoms in 116 individuals with no recent history of receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine.7 Study participants were between the ages of 18 and 76 in good general health. The study was conducted during prime cold and flu season (January through March). Individuals were examined at baseline and then again at 6 and 12 weeks, and were asked to record cold or flu-like symptoms in a standardized diary. EpiCor (500 mg daily) significantly reduced the incidence of cold or flu-like symptoms compared to placebo, while non-significant decreases were noted for duration of illness compared to placebo, indicating its benefit for immune function.
While both of the above studies examined the benefits of EpiCor with sustained use, Gitte Jensen’s group at NIS Labs in Klamath Falls, OR, assessed the acute and rapid immune-modulating effects in a clinical trial with a crossover design.8 This double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study consisted of 12 healthy subjects aged 18–54. EpiCor (500 mg) or placebo was administered on an acute basis, and measurements in the 12 subjects were taken at least two weeks apart (the washout period). At each of the two sessions, serum assessments were conducted before, and at 1 and 2 hours after, administration of the treatment for cytokines, immune cell subsets, activation status of circulating natural killer (NK) and T cells, and antioxidant protection capacity. Compared with placebo, the investigators found rapid changes in serum antioxidant status, cytokine levels, and immune surveillance capacity after the single dose of EpiCor. Moreover, the changes observed in specific lymphocyte subsets indicated a modulatory effect of EpiCor on circulating T and NK cells. The findings of this study highlight the rapid onset of EpiCor’s benefits.
- Vighi G et al., “Allergy and the gastrointestinal system,” Clinical & Experimental Immunology, vol. 153 (Suppl 1) (September 2008): 3–6.
- Terpend K et al., “Arabinogalactan and fructo-oligosaccharides have a different fermentation profile in the Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME®),” Environmental Microbiology Reports, vol. 5, no. 4 (August 2013): 595–603.
- Riede L et al., “Larch arabinogalactan effects on reducing incidence of upper respiratory infections,” Current Medical Research and Opinion, vol. 29, no. 3 (March 2013): 251–258.
- Udani JK, “Immunomodulatory effects of ResistAid™: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multidose study,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol. 32, no. 5 (2013): 331–338.
- Possemiers S et al., “A dried yeast fermentate selectively modulates both the luminal and mucosal gut microbiota and protects against inflammation, as studied in an integrated in vitro approach,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 61, no. 39 (October 2, 2103): 9380–9392.
- Moyad MA et al., “Immunogenic yeast-based fermentation product reduces allergic rhinitis-induced nasal congestion: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial,” Advances in Therapy, vol. 26, no. 8 (August 2009): 795–804.
- Moyad MA et al., “Immunogenic yeast-based fermentate for cold/flu-like symptoms in nonvaccinated individuals,”Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 16, no. 2 (February 2010): 213–218.
- Jensen GS et al., “Antioxidant bioavailability and rapid immune-modulating effects after consumption of a single acute dose of a high-metabolite yeast immunogen: results of a placebo-controlled double-blinded crossover pilot study,” Journal of Medicinal Food, vol. 14, no. 9 (September 2011): 1002–1010.
- Lam KL et al., “Non-digestible long chain beta-glucans as novel prebiotics,” Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre, vol. 2, no. 1 (July 2013): 45–64.
- Talbott SM et al., “Baker’s yeast beta-glucan supplement reduces upper respiratory symptoms and improves mood state in stressed women,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol. 31, no. 4 (August 2012): 295–300.
- Talbott S et al., “β-Glucan supplementation, allergy symptoms, and quality of life in self-described ragweed allergy sufferers,” Food Science & Nutrition, vol. 1, no. 1 (January 2013): 90–101.
- McFarlin BK et al., “Baker’s yeast beta glucan supplementation increases salivary IgA and decreases cold/flu symptomatic days after intense exercise,” Journal of Dietary Supplements, vol. 10, no. 3 (September 2013): 171–183