Our immune system is a feat of communication. The chemical signals that are the language of cells organize and direct action in the body. So with something as complicated as immune communication, how does a supplement work?
That is a very good question. We decided to look at three of our immune products in this context: Congaplex®, Immuplex®, and Epimune Complex.
Congaplex and Immuplex
Immune System Communication
Health care professionals have used Congaplex for over 60 years and Immuplex for over 35. When the experts in patient health say these products support immune system health in patients, we believe them. To clarify how these products communicate, our scientists at Standard Process began evaluating Congaplex and Immuplex in cell-culture models.
In Cell-Culture Models: T Cells and Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells
The models we used were immortalized T lymphocytes (white blood cells that defend the body) and human white blood cell mixtures from subjects’ peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). The cells were all challenged either in the presence of a Congaplex extract, in the presence of an Immuplex extract, or without exposure to any supplement (control).
Helping to Amplify or Quiet Immune System Communication
In a 2009 publication on Congaplex and Immuplex in cell culture, our scientists report that in T cell cultures, while Immuplex reduced T cell “discussions” and calmed cell signaling, Congaplex increased T cell signaling in a dose-dependent manner. In the mix of human white blood cells, both supplements reacted similarly, suggesting that with the complexity of multiple immune system signals, these supplements act in a far more adaptogenic manner. In other words, they work with the complex immune system response instead of simply upregulating or downregulating cell signals.
Of course, cell culture is a very simplified way to study these effects and comes with serious limitations. But it does provide a starting point for future investigation and interesting hypotheses related to the underlying mechanism of action for Congaplex and Immuplex.
Immune System Communication
Vegetarians might consider Epimune Complex, a product Standard Process introduced in 2009. Despite the strong formulation that includes both EpiCor®^ and MaitakeGold 404®† the immune system supplement market is crowded, prompting health care professionals to ask why they should incorporate Epimune Complex into their practices.
So Standard Process commissioned an open-label pilot study on Epimune Complex. This type of trial does not use a control group (open label) and is used to identify areas for further research (pilot). While an open-label pilot study does not result in clinical recommendations, it is a great way to identify interesting findings for further examination.
Standard Process worked with a clinical research partner to assess the effect of Epimune Complex on immune system markers in humans over a one-month period. To examine how this unique product affects both the white blood cells of the immune system and their activity, subjects had blood drawn at the beginning of the study and at the end (day 30). These samples were tested for a number of biomarkers thought to indicate immune system function and activity.
Vegetarian Option for Immune System Modulation
Overall, the Standard Process study on Epimune Complex found that the supplement appeared to increase multiple immune system markers throughout the immune system. The researchers reported:
- Seeing an interesting trend for increasing salivary immunoglobulin (IgA), an antibody that acts as a sentinel.
- Finding that subjects had increased red blood cell zinc, an important component of immune system function. However, this finding requires further research to determine if this particular marker is supportive of overall health.
- Noting an increase in leptin that was both clinically and statistically significant. Leptin is a hormone protein involved in communication between the body and the brain regarding fat storage and metabolism.
The breadth of these findings points to the multiple ways in which a food-based supplement could affect the body’s processes for immune system signaling, red blood cell health, and hormone production.
Immune System Support Through Supplementation
Good communication is vital for most activities, and the same is true inside the body. Our immune system is active at all times, keeping us healthy and strong. Supplements can modulate immune system communication, as can our diet, activity level, and mood. As the seasons change and we shift from summer fun to fall activities, keep all of these immune system modulators in mind.
Help your immune system help you!
^EpiCor® is a registered trademark of Embria Health Sciences LLC.
†MaitakeGold 404® is a registered trademark of the Tradeworks Group Inc. and is protected under U.S. Patent 5,854,404.