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Old 02-02-2008, 08:07 PM   #21
Trevor Snyder
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Re: Weak immune system

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Originally Posted by Trevor Snyder View Post

- echinacea: there are several different formulations of echinacea supplements which widely vary in their efficacy to alleviate viral infections (colds). Echinacea can stimulate immune cells and that's not necessarily what you want if you have been feeling "run down". Zinc may be better choice (it has been repeatedly shown that increasing zinc intake in zinc deficient people reduces infections). Check your zinc intake (gotta read labels), you probably need at least 10 mg/day.
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Originally Posted by Robert Pierce View Post
Why is it that on these forums, and in Crossfit in general, a big deal is made of demonstrating scientifically the benefits of the fitness approach and low-carb/Zone/Paleo diet plans, and yet then at the same time people go unchallenged when suggesting remedies that don't work or have little to no science to back them up?

I could go right down this thread...echinacea: the best randomized, blinded study showed no effect...zinc: possibly some benefits, but at the risk of losing sense of smell...multivitamins: no good randomized trials, and at least one study where the incidence of prostate cancer is increased...naturopaths: show us some data...acai? glutamine? Any studies you can cite that support those recommendations?
Robert,
Asking for appropriate references to justify assertions is entirely reasonable. One problem in discussing scientific literature on a "layman" forum is limited access to the articles. I work for a university so I have access to the literature (you may as well), however, the articles cannot be posted or distributed because of copyright laws. With that said . . .

There are 2 meta-analyses that justify my statement plus a Cochrane review:

Schoop R, Klein P, Suter A, Johnston SL. Echinacea in the prevention of induced rhinovirus colds: a meta-analysis. Clin Ther. 2006 Feb;28(2):174-83.

Shah SA, Sander S, White CM, Rinaldi M, Coleman CI. Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis. 2007 Jul;7(7):473-80.

Linde K, Barrett B, Wölkart K, Bauer R, Melchart D. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD000530.

The authors' conclusion from the abstract (which is available to the public) states:
Echinacea preparations tested in clinical trials differ greatly. There is some evidence that preparations based on the aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea might be effective for the early treatment of colds in adults but results are not fully consistent. Beneficial effects of other Echinacea preparations, and for preventative purposes might exist but have not been shown in independently replicated, rigorous randomized trials.

I believe what I wrote is consistent with this statement. I'm not sure which trial you refer to by "the best randomized, blinded study showed no effect".

In regards to zinc, I specifically stated that the reduction in infections was observed following zinc supplementation in zinc-deficient individuals. If you would like references to justify this statement, I will be happy to provide them. I do not know if Cal's daily zinc intake and suggested he check it. The loss of smell with zinc that I have seen reported occurred with intranasal zinc gluconate sprays, I was referring to dietary intake. I apologize if I was not clear.

As to acai and glutamine, I agree with you that some supporting statements beyond ancedotes would be helpful.
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Old 02-02-2008, 09:22 PM   #22
Erin Davidson
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Re: Weak immune system

Like others have said, it's completely legitimate to want research to back up anecdotal evidence. On the other hand, also completely reasonable to realize not all research is "created equal"...and for that matter, neither are we: every body is so much more intricate than I think our modern mindset has made it out to be. I think this is why, in the long run, sometimes it's best to gamble with what you hear good things about, give it a try and hope for the best.

That said, I have heard that zinc can cause you to lose your loss of smell (and also that other CNS issues can arise out of zinc supplementation), however I have heard this can happen when supplementing with zinc in excess. As with most things...

Obviously I'm not listing a study in this case but I'd also like to make the larger point that as far as the basic question behind this thread goes...some things regarding enhancing immunity are not debatable: better sleep and better eating habits being two obvious examples. If you're not doing at least that...I'd say you shouldn't be mucking about with supplements anyway.
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Old 02-02-2008, 09:29 PM   #23
Robert Pierce
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Re: Weak immune system

Trevor, this is the study to which I refer, a blinded RCT published in the New England Journal of Medicine: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/353/4/341

"Conclusions The results of this study indicate that extracts of E. angustifolia root, either alone or in combination, do not have clinically significant effects on infection with a rhinovirus or on the clinical illness that results from it."

So I guess now we are down to talking about the aerial portion of the plant versus the root. ;-)

Regarding zinc, in the absence of alcoholism or some kind of GI problem, do you really think that zinc deficiency is the population of Crossfitters is very likely? How are you going to measure that, or do you estimate based on his dietary intake, or do you just take the supplement and see what happens? Anything to suggest that among generally healthy persons, zinc supps provide an edge? That is the study I would like to see.

Good discussion, I like it.
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Old 02-06-2008, 06:16 AM   #24
Steve Bickles
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Re: Weak immune system

Its funny but i have a similar problem which i was gonna post on here but i thought i would have a loook first.
I used to bodybuild about 8 years ago and didnt have a cold for years, my eczema cleard up, i stopped smoking and never felt better. Due to injury i stopped, met a girl (we are now getting married in 8 weeks) and stopped training, started smoking again and my health went down!
Now im trying to get back into it and i keep getting colds. I have one at the end of december and just got another one. I think the smoking had a massive thing to do with it so i have stopped now (3rd day) but just feel low.
Stress has a big part, i have started a new intense job which had lots of training and shift work. My sleep patterns are all over the place and have family stresses aswell.
Im wheezing when i wake up now and have constant sinus problems which the doctor just gives me sprays for. My gf laughs at me as she says im a health freak who is always ill. She smokes, eats badly and doesnt train and she has a nice body no allergies (except eczema) and is hardly ever ill!
Im just gonna eat better, more fruits veggies and protein and may go back to some supplements (multivits, vit c and garlic capsules) and not smoke! and see how it goes.
One thing i think is a problem is LONDON! its filled with smog, everything costs so much so everyone is over worked and underpaid. If you go on the tube its filled with germs and everyone is always so angry/stressed all the time.I use my car for my new job now but get stressed in traffic! lol
Hope your getting and staying healthy.
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:22 PM   #25
Justin Shipley
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Re: Weak immune system

a late post, i know, but here's a couple of points... do not underestimate the effects of stress on the immune system. my personal experience; years of doing the right things as far as diet goes (90% organically grown unprocessed fruit veg eggs dairy and meat and grains); vitamin and mineral supplementation based on results of separate blood, saliva, and hair tests; healthy outdoor physical job. in other words all the dietary and environmental aspects were covered. now, if someone had asked at the time if i was stressed, i would have taken quick stock of the fact that i lived in the country; worked my own land as an organically certified fruit grower; had fresh air and peace and quiet on tap; great community; and basically all the foundations of what should constitute a stress-free lifestyle; and my answer, based on these factors would have been "no". but i was still suffering gastro-intestinal complaints far too often, headaches, bad temper, and a lot of screwed up thinking. fast forward 3 yrs, achange of location, change of occupation, and a diagnosis of anxiety and depression later, and now i am finally understanding that you can have all other bases covered but if you have the type of thinking that leads to stress (because let's not forget that stress is the result of how we process information, not the information itself) then you can still fall prey to lots of physical manifestations of mental/psychological imbalance. my advice; do all the goood stuff that others have suggested, but make sure that removing yourself from those sources of stress that you do know about, and taking steps to relax and de-stress in general, become priority as much as diet, etc. and in answer to the person who implied that anecdotal evidence is somehow a poor cousin to 'scientific' data, remember that anecdotal evidence is by nature real people, real experiences, and real insight gained 'at the coalface', not in a lab in a double-blind placebo controlled experiment performed by whitecoats, paid for by those with a vested financial interest in the results...
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Old 02-11-2008, 03:17 AM   #26
Cal Jones
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Re: Weak immune system

I remember about 10 or so years ago I had a bad break-up with a guy I was in a long distance relationship with. Rather than just tell me he didn't want to see me any more, he took the coward's way out and just stopped calling or emailing. I got really worried about him and wondered if something bad had happened to him, which was stressful. Then I found out he was just being an idiot and I got really, really angry. Because I couldn't see him, I had no closure, so I turned into this volatile ball of impotent rage.
Then I came down with shingles.

So yes, stress does make you ill. No doubt about that.

I haven't been sick since December, thankfully. Hopefully having all those viruses has now given me a bomb proof immune system - at least for the immediate future.

Steve - hang in there with the quitting. And yeah, London is quite stressful - fortunately I live in SW London which is a bit greener, but I still have to use public transport. I have swapped my work journey, even - I had a choice of train (two stops, then change at Clapham junction, then two more stops, then a 20 minute walk) or tube (4 stops, 35 minute walk). The train was always packed to Clapham Jct so not only would I have to stand, but also stand wedged in with everyone else, with someone standing on my foot and someone else's elbow in my eye...you know how it is, and I used to have to fight my way over to the next platform to change trains.
Now I take the tube (southbound, so it's empty enough that I can sit down and read the paper) and although the overall journey is longer, it is SO much less stressful. Plus I get more exercise with the longer walk.
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Old 02-22-2008, 02:59 PM   #27
Fred Paepke
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Re: Weak immune system

Bah! I caught the latest cold that's going around and it's threatening to turning into another upper respiratory infection. Just over a month and a half illness-free, and now I'm sick again.

That brings my total to being ill seven times in six months... not fun.

-Fred.
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:28 PM   #28
Isaac Mann-Silverman
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Re: Weak immune system

I know my evidence is purely anecdotal as well, but I would suggest finding a talented (and that is very important, there's a lot of crappy ones) taiji, bagua, or xingyi instructor. It's probably easiest to find a taiji teacher, and that's the style I take so it's the one I can vouch for, but the others should work as well.

I have been practicing the style for two years, and the only sickness I have gotten was when my grandmother died in a fire (terrible way to go). Something about the relaxed, energetic movement and meditation has helped me make it through finals, winters, break-ups and whatever else without the hint of a cold.

Again, not a scientific study, but meditation (esp. standing and moving), and qigong are fantastic for immune health (and stress. Connected?).
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Old 02-25-2008, 02:13 PM   #29
Justin Medeiros
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Re: Weak immune system

Read into Oregano Oil...I've just started taking it and noticed the difference for sure.
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