The darker nights and drop in temperature means we need to prepare ourselves and our bodies for winter.
At this time of the year it’s essential to provide the relevant ingredients to (naturally) fuel our bodies so that we can stay healthy and keep our immune system in good order.
Homemade soups and stews are often thought of as essential winter foods, so experiment with traditional produce such as root vegetables, squashes, seasonal greens, beans and other items such as whole grains to create delicious flavour combinations. Don’t forget that you can also make nourishing dishes using cooked apples, pears and citrus fruit – all key to your body’s maintenance.
If you think your diet alone is not providing sufficient nutrients during the cold snap, try using food supplements to support the immune system. Typical winter supplements are vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc. A good preventative supplement for winter colds is taking beta glucan to strengthen your immune system. Meanwhile horseradish and garlic are both rich in compounds with immune boosting, antibacterial and antiviral activity. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can also help support healthy immunity.
Don’t be discouraged from going outdoors because of the cold weather. Doing at least 30 minutes daily exercise – such as a brisk walk – will keep your circulation going and help keep the viruses at bay. Also try to keep a healthy mind as well as a healthy body by considering some stress management practices such as yoga or meditation.
There are simple measures to help reduce the risk of becoming susceptible to winter bugs: drink plenty of fluids to maintain hydration and remember to regularly wash your hands to prevent infecting others.
Most importantly take time to relax, rest and recover as the cold and darkness urges your body to slow down.
Winter is a great opportunity to reflect on your health, replenish and conserve energy levels by eating the right foods and adapting some lifestyle changes.
Remember, it’s a combination of all the above factors that will help you stay well.
50% of travellers experience digestive issues when abroad. Don’t be one of them!
Traveller’s Diarrhoea is the most frequently experienced health disorder experienced by those travelling abroad. Research suggest that pathogenic bacteria are responsible for 85% of all cases of Traveller’s Diarrhoea, with E. coli being the most common offender[4,5]. Despite it being a generally minor condition, it can ruin your holiday. Statistics reveal that 20% of sufferers are confined to bed for a day, and 33% need to stop their activities.
Of course some destinations are higher risk than others and are generally the more exotic locations such as Egypt, India, and Mexico.
So what is the best natural approach to Traveller’s Diarrhoea?
Much research shows the potential for probiotics to be a natural preventative. Studies suggest that probiotics, a.k.a. friendly bacteria, can help to strengthen the gut’s protective barrier against pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella. A review of the research on this (meta-analysis) found that 85% of cases of Traveller’s Diarrhoea were prevented by probiotics.
How can taking bacteria avoid a bacterial infection?
Well as with other issues with gut health, having enough of the relevant strain of bacteria will help fight the unwanted pathogenic bacteria. It has been found that a combination of B. longum Rosell-175, Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11, Saccharomyces boulardii and L. acidophilus Rosell-52 have been shown to be effective in preventing infection with E. coli. Other trials also show that Saccharomyces boulardii may be especially helpful in cases of Traveller’s Diarrhoea due to its unique ability to actually bind to unwanted, pathogenic bacteria and then help excrete them, as well as its documented ability to alleviate diarrhoea during an infection [9,10,11,12].
L. acidophilus Rosell-52 & L. rhamnosus Rosell-11 have also been shown to help prevent infection by less common pathogens including: P. aeruginosa, Klebsiella, and Staphylococcus [13,14].
So all in all these bacteria can be of huge help staying happy and healthy when travelling. Nutritional Therapist, Joanna Lutyens from OptiBac Probiotics says ‘ Your digestive system may be under siege when travelling abroad, both from an intake of foods which your body is not used to, as well as a whole new range of bacteria. It is therefore really important to look after your digestive health when travelling. Taking a probiotic specifically designed to support your gut health in this situation may really help prevent discomfort or illness. Of course there are other things you can do to avoid getting the dreaded Delhi Belly. Tips include avoiding unpeeled fruit and vegetables, avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth, wash your hands regularly, avoid ice cubes and stay hydrated.’
Bradley AC, 2007.
World Tourism Organisation. Tourism highlights. 2008. Available at www.unwto.org
Black RE. Epidemiology of travellers’ diarrhoea and relative importance of various pathogens. Rec. Infect. Dis. 1990: 12 (suppl 1): S73-S79
Jiang ZD; Mathewson JJ, Ericsson CD, Svennerholm AM, Pulido C, DUPont HL. Characterisation of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli strains in patients with traveller’s diarrhoea acquired in Guadalajara, Mexico, 1992-1997. J Infect Dis. 2000;181:779-82
Adachi JA, Jiang ZD, Mathewson JJ, Verenkar MP, Thompson S, Martinez-Sandoval F, et al. Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli as a major etiologic agent in traveller’s diarrhoea in 3 regions of the world. Clin Infect Dis. 2001;32:1706-9.
Centres for disease control and prevention – www.cdc.gov.travel/yellowbookch4-diarrhoea.aspx
McFarland MV, Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of traveller’s diarrhoea. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2007; 5: 97-105.
Bisson JF. (ETAP), H. Durand (Institut Rosell- Lallemand), Effects of Different Probiotic Formulations on the Traveller’s Diarrhoea Model in Rats. Submitted.
Kirchhelle, A. et al. Treatment of persistent diarrhoea with S. boulardii in returning travellers. Results of a prospective study. Fortschy. Med. 1996, 114:136-140
Kollaritsch, H. et al. Prevention of traveler’s diarrhoea with Saccharomyces boulardii. Results of a placebo controlled double blind study. Fortschr. Med. 1993, 111:152-156.
Kurugol Z., Koturoglu G. Effects of Saccharomyces boulardii in children with acute diarrhoea. Acta pediatr 2005; 94;44-7.
Htwe K; et al. Effect of Saccharomyces boulardii in the Treatment of Acute Watery Diarrhoea in Myanmar Children: A Randomized Controlled Study. Am. J. Top. Med. Hyg. 2008; 78(2):214-216
Tlaskal P, Lactobacillus acidophilus in the treatment of children with gastrointestinal tract illnesses. 1995, Cesko-Slovenska Pediatrie, 51 :615-619.
Wasowska, K. Prevention and eradication of intestinal dysbacteriosis in infants and children. unpublished results 1997
Most people will experience problems sleeping at some point in their life and it is thought that around a third of Brits suffer with chronic insomnia.
Many things can contribute to a sleepless night – stress, diet, environment and lifestyle factors – but when we do find ourselves tossing and turning into the small hours of the night, it can be all too tempting to reach for the sleeping pills – but a report published by a leading mental health charity suggested that Britain has become a nation of ‘sleeping pill addicts’.
Reduce your risk of becoming addicted to these pills and try something natural instead, such as Sun Chlorella. Research from across the globe has suggested that some whole foods may improve sleep quality by up to 42% . So before you pop those prescription pills, take a look at these tips from Sun Chlorella Holistic Nutritionist Nikki Hillis who has shared some of her favourite foods to help you achieve a longer, deeper sleep.
It might seem bizarre but an algae supplement such as Sun Chlorella® is rich in chlorophyll that contains high amounts of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, tryptophan and omega 3 fatty acids, all essential nutrients for quality sleep.
A recent study by Oxford University showed that the participants on a course of daily supplements of omega-3 had nearly one hour more sleep and seven fewer waking episodes per night compared with the participants taking the placebo.
Furthermore, the tryptophan found in chlorella is a sleep-enhancing amino acid used by the brain to produce neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin that help you relax and go to sleep. While young people have the highest melatonin levels, production of this hormone wanes as we age. Calcium and magnesium relax the body and B vitamins are essential for stress relief.
2. Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds and sesame seeds are rich in magnesium and calcium – two minerals that help promote sleep. Walnuts are also a good source of tryptophan. The unsaturated fats found in nuts improve your serotonin levels, and the protein in the nuts help maintain a stable blood sugar level to prevent you waking in the night. 100 grams of sesame seeds boasts over 1000 micrograms of tryptophan. The same amount of chia seeds have over 700 mgs of tryptophan, while pumpkin seeds have almost 600 mg.
3. Herbal teas (such as Chamomile, Passionflower, Valerian, Lavender, Lemongrass)
Valerian is one of the most common sleep remedies for insomnia. Numerous studies have found that valerian improves deep sleep, speed of falling asleep, and overall quality of sleep. Lemongrass’ calming properties have been long revered to ward off nightmares while chamomile tea is used regularly worldwide for insomnia, irritability, and restlessness.
4. Kiwi Fruit
Research suggests that eating kiwi fruit may have significant benefits for sleep due to its high antioxidant and serotonin levels. Researchers at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University studied the effects of kiwi consumption on sleep and found that eating kiwi on a daily basis was linked to substantial improvements to both sleep quality and sleep quantity. After 4 weeks of kiwi consumption, researchers found that the amount of time it takes to fall asleep after going to bed decreased by 35.4%, the amount of time spent in periods of wakefulness after initially falling asleep fell 28.9% and the total time spent asleep among the volunteers increased by 13.4%.
Honey promotes a truly deep and restorative sleep. If you take a teaspoon or two of honey before bed, you’ll be re-stocking your liver with glycogen so that your brain doesn’t activate a stress response, which often occurs when glycogen is low. Honey also contributes to the release of melatonin in the brain, as it leads to a slight spike in insulin levels and the release of tryptophan in the brain.
6. Sun Chlorella Sound Asleep Smoothie
Smoothies are a popular and satisfying breakfast but we rarely associate them with bedtime. Here, Sun Chlorella Holistic Nutritionist – Nikki Hillis – shares her ‘Sound Asleep, Sun Chlorella Smoothie’ packed with tasty ingredients to help you nod off and enjoy a restful kip.
Glowing, youthful skin
We all want glowing, youthful-looking skin, especially at this time of year. Good skincare isn’t just about what you put on it – looking after your skin from the inside out is also vital for a fresh, healthy complexion. That’s where chlorella comes in. One of the world’s best-kept beauty secrets, it’s a single-cell green algae packed with high levels of nutrients, and can nourish your skin in a number of unique and powerful ways.
Concentrated in chlorella’s nucleic acids is a unique substance called Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF), which is what makes the plant grow so rapidly. CGF – even in small amounts – is known to stimulate tissue repair. The result? Chlorella can help your cells mend and protect themselves, leading to fresh, rejuvenated skin.
Chlorella’s major skin benefit lies in its unusually high levels of nucleic acids, substances that help the body’s cell walls to function efficiently. Chlorella is rich in two forms of nucleic acid called DNA and RNA. Our natural production of these slows as we get older, which can contribute to signs of ageing. Dr Benjamin Franks, a pioneering researcher into nucleic acids, found that a high intake of dietary nucleic acids led to improvement in lines and wrinkles and smoother, more youthful skin. Chlorella is one of the best ways to get nucleic acids into your diet as it’s extremely high in RNA and DNA.
The ultimate cleanser
Chlorella can also help keep your skin clear – that’s down to its high levels of chlorophyll, the green pigment all plants use to absorb energy from sunlight. Research has found taking chlorophyll supplements can help support bowel function. As healthy digestion is vital for clear skin, chlorophyll can have direct benefits for your complexion. Chlorella is the richest known source of chlorophyll in the plant world.
A holistic all-rounder
Chlorella also contains a range of other nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, folic acid, fibre and essential fatty acids, all known to help promote healthy skin. Its broad spectrum of nutrients makes it ideal for supercharging your overall wellbeing and energy levels – perfect for making the most of summer!
Why Sun Chlorella?
Sun Chlorella® is produced in a special way that ensures your body gets the most from all the nutrients. Chlorella has a very tough cell wall, which stops us from digesting it properly. Sun Chlorella® innovated a special process to solve this problem, using the DYNO®-Mill, a machine that breaks the cell walls so you can digest and absorb it efficiently.
There are different ways to get the benefits of Sun Chlorella®. For the ultimate easy health boost on the move, try Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ Tablets, or add them to smoothies (see recipe, below). You can also apply the goodness of chlorella direct to your skin with Sun Chlorella® Cream, a unique and indulgent moisturiser which harnesses the power of CGF. And you can add Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ Granules to drinks.
Top Recipe – For the ultimate deep cleanse, try this delicious treat:
A recent placebo-controlled trial has found that a combination of probiotics and vitamin C helps to prevent cold infections in young children.
The study, published last month in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved 69 preschool children who each received either a placebo supplement or a chewable probiotic and vitamin C supplement for a period of six months. The study was double-blind, meaning that neither the researchers nor the children or their parents knew whether each child was taking the supplement or a placebo.
The results at the end of the six month period were promising. The children who received the probiotic and vitamin C supplement had experienced fewer upper respiratory tract infections (ie common colds), and as a result had fewer absences from preschool and fewer visits to the doctor. The probiotic and vitamin C group were also less likely to have taken antibiotics, painkillers, cough medicines or nasal sprays compared with those children in the placebo group.
Both probiotics and vitamin C are known to modulate the immune system. Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, reverses oxidative damage caused by infection. It is also believed to support production of phagocytes, cytokines and lymphcytes – cells that battle infection.
Healthy probiotic bacteria ramp up the body’s production of antibodies and lymphocytes, defending the body against infection (2).
In fact, around 70% of the body’s immune system resides in the digestive system which is home to around 100 trillion (about 3lbs) bacteria.
This particular study used 50mg of vitamin C alongside Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium lactis strains of probiotics. Other strains of probiotics have also been linked with increased resistance to infection, though more research needs to be done in order to determine which particular strain is most effective. Hopefully this study will pave the way for larger trials to be carried out. In the meantime, probiotics have repeatedly been demonstrated as a safe supplement for children, and so trying a probiotic supplement with vitamin C would seem a sensible measure for parents of children who seem to have one cold after another.
Ideally, all children should all eat a diet which is rich in vitamin C and other anti-oxidants, and encourages growth of healthy bacteria. This means eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding foods that deplete levels of healthy bacteria such as sugar and white grains. Unfortunately children’s sugar intake is consistently above the maximum recommended amount, and only around 10% of children in the UK manage to eat their ‘5-a-day’ requirement of fruit and vegetables (3).
Especially good sources of prebiotics – foods which feed and therefore boost probiotic bacteria – include leeks, onions, garlic, asparagus and bananas. Natural probiotic yoghurt can also help to support children’s levels of healthy bacteria. Most added sugar comes from breakfast cereals and soft drinks, and so parents should look out for these items in particular, and read labels to check from hidden sugars.
Boosting vitamin C intake and reaching the 5-a-day recommendation means adding fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks – for children, small changes such as adding blueberries to breakfast or pureeing vegetables into pasta sauces are simple changes that can make a huge difference, ensuring that children are happy and healthy both in and out of school.
Garaiova, I. et al (2014) Probiotics and vitamin C for the prevention of respiratory tract infections in children attending preschool: a randomised controlled pilot study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Resta SC. Effects of probiotics and commensals on intestinal epithelial physiology: implications for nutrient handling. J Physiol. 2009. 587:4169-4174.
National Diet and Nutrition Survey: results from Years 1 to 4 (combined) of the rolling programme for 2008 and 2009 to 2011 and 2012. Public Health England and Food Standard Agency. 14 May 2014
The human intestinal tract is home to trillions of “friendly” bacteria that are crucial in maintaining good health. These bacteria are instrumental in protecting against tummy problems, supporting digestion and absorption of nutrients. The balance of this gut micro flora is also intrinsically linked with immunity, ensuring a positive balance of beneficial gut bacteria will give your immune system a fighting chance of beating off the majority of opportunistic pathogens.
Antacids, antibiotics and low fibre refined diets all disrupt this delicate balance. This is possibly why an estimated 1 in 5 adults in the UK suffer from gastrointestinal complaints. Rebalancing the gut micro flora through the diet or by taking a “probiotic” supplement containing strains of friendly bacteria has been shown to help maintain the health of the intestinal tract and aid digestion, reduced bloating and the establishment of a regular bowel habits.
Our immune system is used to dealing with bacterial or viral challenges on a regular basis, but when we travel we can encounter different or possibly more pathogenic strains that then cause us to become ill. A change of food may also upset a sensitive tummy, as well as traveller’s diarrhoea people may also suffer from bloating or discomfort. You can reduce your chances of falling ill by giving your immune system and gut flora extra support by taking a probiotic supplement before jetting off to exotic destinations. Closer to home evidence continues to grow that probiotic supplements are a key element in the management of IBS, a combination of L.plantarum and L.acidophilus has been found to be especially effective.
Choosing a probiotic supplement
The effectiveness of probiotics is linked to their ability to survive the transit from stomach to small intestine; to do so they must be able to resist both acidic and alkaline conditions.
To confer health benefits probiotic supplements must contain live bacteria capable of adhering to the intestinal lining and colonise in the colon. Always choose products by trusted and established manufacturers.
Lyophilised (freeze dried) bacteria are stable at room temperature so do not need refrigeration.
Look for a delayed release product, delaying the release of the bacteria until they reach the small intestine protects them against the acidic environment of the stomach and delivering them directly where they are needed.
As the weather worsens and the season of colds and coughs approaches, our thoughts turn towards ways in which we can support our immune systems to help keep us fighting fit throughout the winter.
A current theory in medicine, known as the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’, states that our obsession with household cleaners and overzealous hand washing with anti-bacterial agents may be to blame for a rise in infections, as well as conditions such as asthma.
Our immune system is designed to fight infection from bacteria, viruses and parasites as well as recognise foreign substances as allergens. As our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past, we no longer have to elicit an immune response. The theory indicates that bacteria can in fact be helpful for supporting our immune systems.
So, how can we use bacteria to help boost our immunity? Health experts suggest we should allow children to be children by letting them play outside in mud and with their friends, and worrying less about them coming into contact with dirt and germs. There is also an increasing body of evidence supporting the use of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) for immune support. Our digestive tract functions as a barrier against potentially harmful bacteria and food. It is known that supplementing with probiotics can help mediate our immune response, reducing inflammation and protecting us against exposure to potentially harmful bugs.
Here we explore some of the OptiBac Probiotics’ products and their potential benefits for immune health.
OptiBac Probiotics For daily immunity, a blend of probiotics and antioxidants, contains targeted probiotic strains to help support immunity. If you feel you catch colds too frequently, this is a product to consider, or for those who have lower levels of friendly bacteria such as the elderly and those who lead active, demanding lives.
OptiBac Probiotics For daily wellbeing is a daily supplement that promotes a healthy balance of friendly bacteria throughout the entire intestinal tract. For daily wellbeing is suitable for anyone seeking probiotic support on a daily basis (aged over 4 years and over).
OptiBac Probiotics For daily wellbeing EXTRA strength is dairy-free supplement extra strength formula with 20 billion live microorganisms per capsule. It may benefit those with a severe imbalance of good and bad intestinal bacteria, skin conditions, or those with particularly busy lifestyles.
OptiBac Probiotics For your child’s health is a natural symbiotic supplement to support digestion and immunity in infants and children, and pregnant & breastfeeding women. For your child’s health is suitable for babies and children from 6 months of age.
Cazzola, M. et al. (2010) Efficacy of a synbiotic supplementation in the prevention of common diseases in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study; Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease 0(0) pp. 1-8
Rautava, S. et al (2002). ‘Probiotics during pregnancy and breast-feeding might confer immunomodulatory protection against atopic disease in the infant’. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Jan Vol. 109 (1), pp. 119-121
The start of the new school year is upon us, and this can cause worry for some parents whose children seem particularly vulnerable to illness. Coughs, colds, ear and chest infections are commonplace in schools, with the average child catching between 8 and 12 colds or flu viruses each year. This is not surprising when we consider that the school environment is the perfect breeding ground for infection – up to 90% of children with a cold are carrying the virus on their hands, and germs can survive up to three days on surfaces.
Fortunately there are some simple measures that can help support your child’s immune system, helping to lessen the duration of an infection or even avoid illness altogether.
A good night’s sleep Children need more sleep than adults, with primary school children needing at least 9 hours each night. Any less than this can compromise the immune system. Sleep deprived children have lower levels of germ-fighting T-cells, leaving them vulnerable to infection (1). Tips to improve sleep include keeping a regular bedtime routine, ensuring that televisions are kept out of the bedroom and reducing sources of caffeine such as chocolate and sodas.
Immune-boosting antioxidants Another way to help support your child’s health is to ensure that his or her diet provides plenty of immune-boosting antioxidants. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C boost production of interferon, helping to prevent infection from taking hold (2). Vitamin E and carotenoids help to increase production of natural killer cells, B cells and T cells, increasing antibodies against specific germs (3).
Finally, nutrients called bioflavonoids actually work to block cell receptors so that germs cannot get access to cells. Present in whole foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains, flavonoids have been shown to exert both anti-inflammatory and anti-viral activity (4). Flavonoids are not easily absorbed from foods we eat. For the best sources of well-absorbed flavonoids, make sure your child eats plenty of blue and purple fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries and red grapes.
If infection has already taken hold, then steps to reduce the length of an infection can be helpful. During an active infection, the body’s requirement for Vitamin C is increased dramatically. A fruit salad made with oranges, kiwi fruit and strawberries can provide a welcome vitamin C boost. During an active infection, taking a vitamin C supplement 3-4 times daily can also be a helpful measure to speed up recovery.
Protective probiotics Probiotic supplementation offers a further protective measure for children who suffer with repeated infections. Probiotics reduce the risk of allergies, tummy upsets and diarrhoea, and have recently been found to prevent the common cold (5). They give the immune system a boost by increasing natural killer cell activity and phagocytosis, both important mechanisms for protecting against infection. In children in particular, probiotics work to ramp up levels of mucosal immunoglobulin A, the first line of defence against harmful pathogens that enter the body (6).
Probiotic supplements designed especially for children offer a safe way to support your child’s immune system. Adding some probiotic yoghurt to fruit salad or breakfast muesli can help keep your child’s levels of immune-boosting bacteria topped up.
While children can’t be shielded from every bug in the classroom, these simple measures can help ensure that your child building blocks of a strong immune system and feels fit for the new school year.
1. Diwakar Balachandran, MD, director, Sleep Center, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.
2. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold (Review) Hemilä H, Chalker E, Douglas B. Cochrane Review. 2010. Issue 3.
3. Hughes DA: Antioxidant vitamins and immune function; in Calder PC, Field CJ, Gill HS (eds): Nutrition and Immune Function. Wallingford, CAB International, 2002, pp 171–191.
4. Middleton E (1998) Effect of Plant Flavonoids on Immune and Inflammatory Cell Function. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology Volume 439, pp 175-182.
5. En-Jin Kang et al (2013) The Effect of Probiotics on Prevention of Common Cold: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trial Studies. Korean J Fam Med. 2013 January; 34(1): 2–10.
6. Lomax & Calder (2009) Probiotics, immune function, infection and inflammation: a review of the evidence from studies conducted in humans. Curr Pharm Des. 15(13):1428-518.
Serrapeptase, technically called Serratio Peptidase, is a proteolytic enzymes, meaning that it dissolves or digests protein. Serrapeptase was first found in silkworms, as it is this enzyme that silkworms use to dissolve their cocoons. It is now produced as a nutritional supplement through fermentation of plant-grown enzymes.
How does it work? The reason that serrapeptase has such valuable therapeutic potential is that it dissolves only non-living tissue – tissues that can be a barrier to healing and optimal health. This special enzyme also helps reduce swelling after injury and inhibits the release of chemical messengers that cause pain. Its unique properties have led to a number of studies investigating its therapeutic benefits.
There are five main health benefits associated with serrapeptase:
It is often used for its pain relieving benefits. Serrapeptase decreases pain by blocking the release of bradkinin and other ‘pain messengers’ from inflamed or damaged tissue (1). Because of this it is often used as an alternative to common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and is especially favoured by those concerned about side effects of long term NSAID usage such as ulcers bleeding in the digestive tract.
Serrapeptase has been studied for its anti-inflammatory benefits (2). The supplement is believed to improve symptoms related to a whole host of inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, migraine and others due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
The supplement is an effective mucolytic, meaning that it thins mucous. It shows promise as a treatment for those with chronic sinusitis (3). Ear, nose and throat problems also involve uncomfortable symptoms linked with increased mucous secretion. Serrapeptase has also been studied as a potential treatment for these conditions (4).
Serrapeptase also appears to play a role in healing injury. The supplement has been used to support post-operative recovery, as well as speeding recovery from sprains and other injuries. For example, in a group of patients undergoing knee surgery, those taking serrapeptase supplements showed a 50% reduction in swelling compared to controls (5). Injured joints, ligaments or muscles are coated with fibrin which works to support the injured tissue while it regenerates. Sometimes excess fibrin can form unwanted scar tissue, inflammation and pain. This fibrin takes up valuable space in which living tissue should grow, reducing the motion of muscles and joints. Therefore by dissolving fibrin, serrapeptase offers potential to enhance recovery after injury.
Because of its ability to dissolve fibrin, serrapeptase has also been used to dissolve arterial plaque, fibrous blockages in clogged or hardened arteries. As serrapeptase only dissolves dead or damaged tissue, this could enable the dissolution of harmful atherosclerotic plaques without causing any harm to the inside of the arteries.
Studies of serrapeptase supplementation have found positive benefits with a dosage of around 10mg, taken after meals three times daily. No long-term studies of this supplement have yet been conducted, although studies to date suggest that supplementation for a period of 4 weeks seems safe (1,2).
Although preliminary research looks promising, many of the studies have been small or uncontrolled and much of the supporting evidence is anecdotal (6). Serrapeptase does appear to show promise as an agent for reducing pain and inflammation and support recovery. Clearly more research is needed to determine the role and value of serrapeptase in medicine, though studies to date suggest it has some clinical potential.
1. Mazzone A et al (1990) Evaluation of Serratiapeptidase in acute or chronic inflammation of torhinolarygology pathology: a multi-centre, double-blind randomized trial versus placebo. J Int Med Res 18:379-88.
2. Tachibana M, Mizukoshi O, Harada Y, et al (1984) A multi-centre, double-blind study of serrapeptase versus placebo in post-antrotomy buccal swelling. Pharmatherapeutica 3:526-30.
3. Mizukoshi D et al (1982) A double-blind study of Danzen tablets in the treatment of chronic sinusitis. Igaku Ayumi 123:768-778.
4. Mazzonie C et al (1990) Evaluation of serrapeptase in acute or chronic inflammation of otorhinolaryngology pathology: a multicentre, double-blind randomized trial versus placebo. J Int Med Res 18(5):379-388.
5. Esch VP et al (1989) Reduction of postoperative swelling. Objective measurement of swelling in upper ankle joint in treatment with serrapeptase – a prospective study (german) Fortschr Med 107(4):76-8.
6. Bhagat S et al (2013) Serratiopeptidase: a systematic review of the existing evidence. Int J Surg 11(3):209-217.
Boasting immune boosting, anti-microbial and wound-healing properties, the therapeutic uses of aloe vera are surprisingly diverse. Here are my top 5 uses for this versatile supplement.
1. Digestive Support Aloe vera is often used by those with digestive complaints. Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis are marked by long-lasting inflammation within the digestive tract. The natural anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera have led to a number of studies investigating the possible benefit of this plant for these conditions.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of aloe vera in patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis demonstrated improved symptoms in patients taking aloe vera compared to those in the placebo group (1). Similar benefits have been reported in patients suffering with ulcerative colitis (2).
2. Immune Support
Aloe vera contains a special type of sugar molecule called acemannan which boosts the activity of macrophages. Macrophages (from the Greek, meaning ‘big eaters’) are white blood cells which function to destroy or ‘eat up’ pathogens. Alongside this action, acemannan also enhances T-cell function and interferon production. This type of immune enhancement is evident in studies which show that consumption of aloe vera gel is effective in combating candida infection (3).
The detoxifying effect of aloe vera has been scientifically verified by lab tests of urinary indican levels. Indicans are molecules found in the urine, and they can be used to measure bacterial activity in the small and large intestine. Raised levels of indicans suggest compromised digestive health, including problems such as protein malabsorption and bacterial overgrowth (4). Aloe vera has been found to reduce urinary indican levels after just one week. This suggests that aloe consumption can improve protein digestion and absorption, or improve bacterial balance in the bowel.
4. Skin Benefits Applied topically, aloe vera can be used to help heal damaged skin. A recent meta-analysis, which examined studies involving a total of 371 patients, concluded that aloe vera may be considered effective in treating first and second degree burns. In fact the studies showed that topical application of aloe vera reduced healing time by an average of 9 days (5). It is thought that naturally occurring substances in aloe help cells to regenerate, speeding up healing.
Aloe is especially useful in the summer months owing to its cooling and soothing properties. A common ingredient in aftersun lotions, aloe vera is believed to act as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Research is conflicting, although a recent randomised, double-blind trial found aloe vera to be more effective than hydrocortisone cream in reducing sunburn symptoms 48 hours after application (6).
5. Diabetes and blood sugar regulation
There have been several studies investigating the efficacy of aloe vera in the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. One of the first studies involved a group of 3,000 diabetic patients who supplemented their existing treatments with a natural remedy containing aloe gel and psyllium seed husks. In 94% of these patients, fasting blood glucose levels fell to normal levels within two months (7).
In diabetic models, consumption of aloe vera has been found not only to reduce fasting blood sugar levels, but also to reduce levels of liver enzymes (a sign of liver damage), and cholesterol (8). Aloe’s high fibre content, glycoproteins and antioxidant benefits are believed to help the body to regulate blood sugar more effectively.
A further controlled study of 72 diabetic patients supports these benefits, showing that 2 tbsp daily of aloe vera resulted in a significant reduction in blood sugar levels over a period of 42 days (9).
Aloe appears to have a huge number of nutritional benefits and healing properties, making it a versatile nutritional supplement.
Langmead L et al (2004) Anti-inflammatory effects of aloe vera gel in human colorectal mucosa in vitro. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 19:521–527
Langmead L et al (2004) Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 19:739–747.
Jackson JA et al (2000) Urine Indican as an Indicator of Disease. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 15, No. 1
Sun-A Im et al (2010) In vivo evident of the immunomodulatory activity of orally administered aloe vera gel. Arch Pharm Res Vol 333:3, pp. 451-456
Maenthaisong R et al (2007) The efficacy of Aloe vera used for burn wound healing: A systematic review. Burns. 33:713–18
Reuter J et al (2008) Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 21(2):106-110]