Early February marks the epicenter of cold and flu season, as well as the moment when the US Food & Drug Administration can finally determine how effective their annually updated flu vaccines, introduced the previous fall, will be at reducing the number of influenza cases nationwide.
Each year, only 3 or 4 influenza strains can be selected for inclusion in the vaccines. Predicting what strains might become prevalent in the upcoming season requires some seriously educated guesswork by the experts at the World Health Organization. The built-in uncertainty of forecasting a year ahead of time which strains might predominate is one reason why the seasonal flu vaccine never will be 100% effective. According to one doctor who recommends the shot to all his patients, “even on a good year, it’s 50 to 60 percent protection”.1
With odds like these, those who do opt for the flu vaccine—let alone those who don’t—still might find it advantageous to continue supporting their immune system throughout cold and flu season in various additional ways, from incorporating healthy lifestyle choices and stress management tools to adopting wise dietary and nutritional supplement strategies.
For thousands of years, botanical medicine has served just this purpose. Many of our best-known herbal allies, including Echinacea angustifolia root, Olive Leaf extract and berberine-containing Hydrastis canadensis (Goldenseal), are widely recognized for offering anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory immune boosting activity. Others, like Andrographis paniculata, are less familiar but equally deserving of recognition.
Andrographis, an annual herbaceous plant native to India and Sri Lanka, has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to support upper respiratory health and associated infections. A recent 2017 meta-analysis of the herb, examining a total of 33 randomized controlled studies that involved more than 7,000 subjects altogether, cites strong clinical support for the ancient applications of Andrographis.2
According to the systematic review, in patients with acute upper respiratory infections Andrographis helped significantly shorten the duration of cough and sore throat symptoms compared to placebo. Faster overall recovery rates and reduced duration of sick leave time were also noted. As an added bonus, no adverse events beyond minor gastrointestinal complaints in some subjects were reported.
Bioactive compounds in Andrographis include andrographolides—diterpene lactones with researched anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-allergic and immune-stimulatory effects. In vitro studies also suggest andrographolides may exhibit activity against specific strains of avian and human influenza viruses, due to the proposed ability of these compounds to block viral hemagglutinin from binding to host cells.
Andrographis is one of the lead ingredients in ImmunoSelect®, a potent immune system support formula. ImmunoSelect® may be used proactively to help build immune resistance, or for acute support. Along with Andrographis paniculata extract, ImmunoSelect® contains a powerful blend of seven additional standardized and concentrated herbal extracts (Echinacea, Goldenseal, Olive Leaf, Astragalus, Ligustrum, Schisandra & Amla) plus the anti-viral amino acid L-lysine.
By Diana Allen, MS, CNS, Product Development Manager
Moss Nutrition Digest #17 – 2/1/2020 – PDF Version
- Rachel Valdespino. Doctors, Educators on East End Battle Nasty Flu Outbreak and Urge Vaccinations. 27East.com; The Southampton Press. Jan 28, 2020.
- Hu XY1, Wu RH, et al. Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017 Aug 4;12(8):e0181780.