Special edition: Immune support
Another standout branded ingredient is EpiCor from Embria Health Sciences.
EpiCor is a dried product derived from a proprietary multi-stage fermentation process that produces beneficial metabolites containing vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants, EpiCor is claimed to help activate Natural Killer (NK) cells, which play a key role in the innate immune system, the body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens.
Research suggests that EpiCor also works when the adaptive immune system kicks in by activating B cells.
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.
Clinical studies on EpiCor link it 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).
The company has continued to probe the ingredient’s effects and data supports its role as a potential prebiotic: Data from the SHIME model indicated that EpiCor could boost biﬁdobacteria levels to a similar extent as inulin, & outperformed inulin in boosting lactobacilli. The ingredient was also associated with increased butyrate levels (Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, 2013, Vol. 61, pp. 9380−9392)
A recent study in the Journal of Medicinal Food (2015, Vol. 18, pp. 378–384, doi:10.1089/jmf.2013.0158) indicated that the yeast fermentate may offer anti-inflammatory effects. Data using human skin samples indicated that the yeast fermentate may resolve inflammatory responses, and is a good model to show how the immune health ingredient may work in the gut after ingestion.