A single 500 milligram dose of the fermentate from Saccharomyces cerevisiae was associated with rapid changes in levels of compounds called cytokines associated with immune function, according to findings published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
“The data presented were generated by using a study protocol that was carefully planned to be able to control for normal circadian variations in levels of circulating leukocytes,” explained researchers from Oregon-based NIS Labs and Iowa-based Embria Health Sciences.
“Epicor consumption may hold promise as a nutritional immune support in healthy subjects under acute stress, as well as for patients with specific chronic illnesses affecting innate and adaptive immune defense mechanisms.”
EpiCor and Embria 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.
Immune balance, not modulation
The ingredient has been linked to a range of immune-related benefits, including a reduction in cold- and flu-like symptoms in non-vaccinated individuals (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 16, pp. 213-218), a reduction in the incidence and duration of cold and flu symptoms in subjects who had been vaccinated (Urologic Nursing, Vol. 28, pp. 50-55), and an improvement in allergy symptoms like runny nose (Advances in Therapy, Vol. 26, pp. 795-804).
Led by NIS Labs’ Gitte Jensen, PhD, the researchers recruited 12 health volunteers to participate in their placebo-controlled randomized crossover pilot study.
Samples collected from volunteers one to two hours after consumption of a single dose of 50 mg of Epicor or placebo revealed a decrease in numbers of T and natural killer cells. Both types of cells play a role in the immune system.
Dr Jensen and her co-workers reported significant changes in levels of specific lymphocytes, T cells, and NK cells.
In addition, antioxidant activity of the blood was assessed using NIS Labs’ CAP-e cell-based test. “We found a statistically significant improvement in serum antioxidant protection capacity after ingestion of 500 mg of Epicor,” wrote the researchers.
“This may reflect the content of easily absorbed antioxidants existing in the native product, as well as antioxidant compounds released or generated as a result of normal digestive processes,” they added.
Dr Jensen and her co-workers said that future studies should “address whether Epicor consumption may support immune surveillance in populations experiencing stress and sleep disturbances”.
Authors: Journal of Medicinal Food
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.0174
“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”
Authors: G.S. Jensen, K.A. Redman, K.F. Benson, S.G. Carter, M.A. Mitzner, S. Reeves, L. Robinson