Science stacks up for Epicor’s immune health benefits

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Red blood cell, Immune system

Supplementation with a yeast fermentate can aid the production of healthy red blood cells, and boost immune health, according to the results of randomised clinical trial.

A daily supplement of Embria's EpiCor yeast fermentate also provided anti-inflammatory support, according to the results of small study published in the Open Nutrition Journal​, an online open-access peer-reviewed journal.

“The data presented were based in an exploratory study design, aimed at identifying parameters in healthy adult human subjects that would show trends towards changes after EpiCor consumption,”​ wrote lead author Gitte Jensen from Holger NIS Labs, a contract research laboratory.

“It was encouraging that several trends were identified despite the small study population, including parameters that were statically significant.

“As an overall conclusion to this pilot study, the data suggest that EpiCor supports the formation of healthy red blood cells, supports mucosal defence and provides anti-inflammatory support,”​ she added.

EpiCor and Embria, as the company bringing it to market, were born out of suspicions that the culture could have other uses following farmers' reports that their animals were not getting sick.

Moreover, in 2004 insurance adjusters noticed that Diamond V, Embria's parent company, employees had far lower sick rates than other workplaces. The company thought the culture could be boosting the immune systems of workers who handled it.

Two of the researchers involved in the new study are Embria researchers and the company sponsored the study.

Study details

The researchers recruited 25 healthy participants (average age 27.6, average BMI 26.2 kg per sq. m, 13 women) and randomly assigned them to receive daily EpiCor supplements (500 mg) or placebo (brown rice flour mixed with 1 per cent molasses and 1 per cent tamari) for five weeks.

The red blood cell portion of the blood (haematocrit) increased amongst people in the EpiCor group, said the researchers. The number of red blood cells did not increase, but the volume of red blood cells (RBC) increased by about seven per cent. No significant change in the haemocrit was observed in the placebo group.

“We conclude that the consumption of EpiCor resulted in production of healthier RBC, since their numbers did not change, but their volume (as measured by the haematocrit) and content of haemoglobin increased compared to baseline,”​ stated the researchers.

The subjects consuming the yeast fermentate also experienced a mild increase in saliva levels of sIgA, an antibody that plays an important role in immunity of the mucosa.

“Saliva IgA is the immunoglobulin which protects mucosal surfaces from microbial invaders,”​ wrote the researchers. “While the data did not reach statistical significance, it suggested that EpiCor consumption supports immune protection across mucosal surfaces.”

This result led to a subsequent 8-week open-label study with the 22 people, where statistical significance was reached, said the researchers.

Furthermore, an increase in levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) was observed in people receiving the yeast fermentate supplement. This result indicated an anti-inflammatory role for the supplement.

Allergies

An impact on seasonal allergies was also noted by the researchers. Participants in the placebo group experienced an increase in seasonal allergies, but this was not matched by people in the EpiCor group, said the researchers.

“The timing of the study was such that seasonal allergies started shortly after the study commenced, and we believe that this is an important factor for understanding these data,”​ said the researchers.

“This data should be seen in the context of the subjective comments, where several participants in the EpiCor group reported an absence of their usual seasonal allergies, and some reported that allergies appeared after consumption of EpiCor was stopped.

“It is therefore possible that EpiCor was protective against allergies, at least in some participants,”​ they added.

Future directions

The potential for EpiCor to provide anti-inflammatory support warrants study in people with chronic inflammation, said the researchers. In particular people with chronic fatigue syndrome or cardiovascular disease should be studied, concluded the researchers.

The researchers were affiliated with Holger NIS Inc., NIS Labs, AIBMR Life Sciences, Beaman’s Wellness Center, and Embria Health Sciences.

Source: The Open Nutrition Journal​Volume 2, pp.68-75 (8), doi: 10.2174/1874288200802010068“A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Pilot Study: Consumption of a High-Metabolite Immunogen from Yeast Culture has Beneficial Effects on Erythrocyte Health and Mucosal Immune Protection in Healthy Subjects”​Authors: Gitte S. Jensen, K.M. Patterson, J. Barnes, A.G. Schauss, R. Beaman, S.G. Reeves, L.E. Robinson

Related topics: Research

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