Supplementation with a yeast fermentate can boost the immune system and reduce the occurrence of cold and flu symptoms by 21 per cent, according to the results of randomised clinical trial.
Amongst the 116 people who took part in the study, those who did have symptoms experienced a reduction in the duration by 14 per cent after receiving supplements of Embria's EpiCor yeast fermentate, reports the study in the journal Urologic Nursing.
"This is the largest randomized trial to examine the impact of a fermented yeast product on cold- and flu-like symptoms ever conducted," said Larry Robinson, Embria's vice president of scientific affairs and co-author of the study.
EpiCor is an all-natural high-metabolite immunogen reported to have the antioxidant (ORAC) potency three times that of any known fruit, as well as to cause a four-fold increase in the activity of the 'natural killer' cells that guard the immune system.
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.
The new study recruited 116 people recently vaccinated against seasonal flu to take part in the 12-week, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Subjects were assigned to receive either daily supplements of EpiCor (500 mg) or placebo, and data was collected at the start (baseline), after six and 12 weeks.
The researchers, led by Mark Moyad from the University of Michigan, reported that the subjects receiving the yeast fermentate had significantly fewer cold and flu symptoms and significantly shorter duration of symptoms, compared to the placebo group.
"The enormous financial cost (approximately a quarter of a million dollars) to conduct such a clinically robust trial is further testimony to the investigative team and the manufacturer of this product and hopefully continues to establish a new paradigm in the dietary supplement industry," stated the researchers.
The study also boosted the safety reputation of the ingredient, with adverse events reported by 30.8 per cent of the EpiCor group, compared to 39.1 per cent for the placebo group.
Moyad added that, based on the encouraging results, future studies focus on the use of the yeast fermentate as a potential single agent to reduce cold- and flu-like symptoms in healthy individuals who have not received any prior flu vaccination.
"If EpiCor can significantly reduce the incidence and duration of colds and flu, imagine the significance this could have on healthcare costs, sick days and lost revenue - in addition to the more obvious impact on people's overall health," added Robinson.
The ingredient was highlighted by Mark Blumenthal from the American Botanical Council (ABC) at SupplySide West in Las Vegas last November as an ingredient to watch. Blumenthal said that his presentation did not represent an endorsement by the ABC of the preparations and their potential health benefits, or of the science reported, but merely reflected an overview of the science to date.
In Europe, manufacturers in Spain, the United Kingdom, and the rest of the EU are supplied with EpiCor by Livingstone, Scott (Healthcare) & Co.
Source: Urologic Nursing
February 2008, Volume 28, Number 1, Pages 50-55
"Effects of a Modified Yeast Supplement on Cold/Flu Symptoms"
Authors: M.A. Moyad, L.E. Robinson, ET. Zawada, Jr., J.M. Kittelsrud, D.-G. Chen, S.G. Reeves, S.E. Weaver