Flu Symptoms Can be Tamed With Fermented Products

The common cold and seasonal flu are viral diseases with similar symptoms. People prefer drugs sold without prescription for symptoms of these infections though such drugs may not be safe. People are also reluctant to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza. This study documented the use of a fermented product, partially derived from yeast, which had some protective and immunity effects. This product also contained macronutrients like oleic acid, dietary fibers, the entire series of B-vitamins and minerals. Use of this preparation was found to be safe and effective in reducing the severity of common cold and flu-like symptoms.

The symptoms of the common cold and seasonal flu overlap. Around 36,000 deaths each year in the U.S. are attributed to flu. Vaccines offer immunity against viruses, and are recommended for seasonal flu. But they are not very popular with only 33 percent of the population choosing to get vaccinated in the U.S.; they prefer over-the-counter (OTC) preparations. These OTC preparations could be hazardous and are not as efficient as a vaccine. The current study was aimed at examining the capacity of the fermented product from yeast to induce immunity. It was also aimed at finding out if the product offered protection against the common cold and flu in individuals who opted against vaccination.

* This 12-week study was conducted on 116 healthy individuals, aged 18 to 76, without a history of recent vaccination. It ran between January to March when symptoms of the common cold and flu are usually at a peak.
* Participants were divided into two groups. The active intervention group received daily 500mg of EpiCor, a fermented product taken by mouth; while the other group received a placebo.
* Participants kept a diary of cold and flu-like symptoms and rated these symptoms on a scale from 0 (no symptoms) to 10 (most severe symptoms).
* Participants visited the research institute at the beginning, and then in the 6th and 12th weeks of the study for a clinical examination.

* The incidence of common cold or flu-like symptoms decreased significantly in the group receiving EpiCor. Ten out of 11 symptoms were found reduced in severity in the group receiving EpiCor compared to the placebo group. The only exception was weakness.
* Except chills and chest discomfort, the duration of all other symptoms was reduced in the EpiCor group. There was not much impact on fever as a symptom between the EpiCor group and placebo group.
* There was a significant reduction in blood pressure readings in the EpiCor group, by 3 to 4mm Hg, as compared to the placebo.
* There were no abnormalities detected in any of the laboratory parameters compared at baseline to the intervention at 12 weeks, or between the two groups.

Next steps/Shortcomings
This study depended heavily on the diary of symptoms kept by the participants. Such a system is imperfect as the perception of the severity of symptoms may differ between individuals, and differ even in the same individual from time to time. Additional immunologic markers from plasma, serum, urine, and imaging studies could have further added objective data to the findings.

The common cold is a leading cause of absenteeism at the workplace resulting in an economic loss. Seasonal flu is also a major cause of hospitalization and death. Though vaccines for flu are available, people consider them unsafe or ineffective and rarely use them. Instead, OTC drugs, which might not be safe, are often used.  This study found that a fermented product derived from yeast can act as a protective agent against a cold or flu. It reduces severity of symptoms of the common cold and flu significantly and affects duration of symptoms marginally. It is safe and easy to use as it can be taken orally.

For More Information:
Immunogenic Yeast-Based Fermentate for Cold/Flu-like Symptoms in Nonvaccinated Individuals
Publication Journal: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2010
By Mark Moyad, MD; Larry Robinson, PhD; University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Embria Health Sciences, Ankeny, Iowa

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

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