by Dr. Donald Cox
“Run faster, jump higher, get stronger” is the mantra of many serious athletes focused on improving performance. In terms of supplementation, athletes have traditionally relied on products that build muscle, fuel endurance and aid recovery as an important part of their training. But without the benefit of good health, training programs and performance gains fall by the wayside. In other words, if you’re sick, you cannot train, at least not effectively. This is a common occurrence among athletes based on substantial research demonstrating that high intensity exercise weakens the immune system.
Clinical research with a natural immune health ingredient called Wellmune® may change how athletes, trainers and coaches approach supplementation. In studies involving marathon runners and cyclists in a heat-stress lab, Wellmune reduced the incidence of upper respiratory infection symptoms and activated protective immune responses that maintain health.
Study Design The double-blinded, placebo-controlled study included 75 marathon runners (35 men, 40 women) ages 18-53 (mean age 36 years) who were recruited at the 2007 Carlsbad Marathon. Subjects consumed 250 mg of Wellmune daily or a placebo for four weeks. Both groups monitored and recorded symptoms that included nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, cough, fatigue, headache, general malaise and body aches. The study measured the psychological states of the participants using a Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire. The POMS profile method, which measures six primary moods states (tension, depression, anger, fatigue, vigor and confusion), has been employed in thousands of health studies. Study Results Marathoners taking Wellmune had statistically significant (p<0.05) improvements in measurements of physical health, including reported upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and overall health status (figure 2). At the two-week interval, 68% of subjects in the placebo group reported symptoms associated with URTI, but only 32% in the 250 mg Wellmune treatment group reported similar symptoms (figure 3). Upper respiratory tract infection symptoms were reported by only 8% of subjects in Wellmune group at week four vs. 24% of placebo subjects. In addition, study participants taking Wellmune rated their health 44% higher as compared to normal. It was unsurprising, perhaps, that the POMS results mirrored the physical health assessment. The marathoners taking Wellmune experienced fewer symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections so their energy levels and general sense of wellness were higher than the placebo group. In contrast with the placebo group, the Wellmune marathoners reported a:
- 22% increase in vigor (figure 4)
- 48% reduction in fatigue (figure 5)
- 38% reduction in tension (figure 6)
- 38% reduction in stress-related con- fusion (figure 7)
Livestrong Marathon Study A study of 182 runners who completed the 2011 LiveStrong Marathon in Austin, Texas, confirmed previous clinical research showing that Wellmune’s support of the immune system has health benefits for individuals under real-life conditions. The Health and Human Performance Lab at the University of Houston conducted the study. Study Design This was the second marathon runner study to evaluate Wellmune and was completed in 2011. The study was conducted by the University of Houston and included evaluation of both the dispersible and soluble forms of Wellmune3. The study was similar in methodology to the Carlsbad marathon study published by Talbott. The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study included 96 men and 86 women with an average age of 34 and an average finish time of 4:00 hours. These participants were given either 250 mg of Wellmune soluble or Wellmune dispersible daily or a placebo of 250 mg of rice flour to take for four weeks following the LiveStrong marathon. Cold and flu symptoms were tracked via several survey tools daily (including the WURSS-21 survey). The investigators did not know the identity of the variables until after all the data analysis was completed. Study Results Both forms of Wellmune (dispersible and soluble) significantly reduced the average number of days subjects reported cold or flu symptoms compared to the place- bo3. There was no significant difference between average number of symptom days between the dispersible and soluble groups. This study confirms the efficacy of both dispersible and soluble forms of Wellmune. Based on previous studies conducted by the University of Houston, it is reasonable to speculate that the improvements associated with Wellmune were likely due to alterations in monocytes, plasma cytokines, and improved mucosal immunity1,3. Future Research Statistically significant benefits of Wellmune have been demonstrated in other clinical trials involving wildland firefighters, fourth year medical students and other individuals with high stress lifestyles. This body of research may have broad implications for elite athletes and ordinary consumers, as well as food, beverage and supplement manufacturers in the immune health category. Biothera is committed to an ongoing research program that advances under- standing of the immune system and the technology of Wellmune. The company is focused on continued biomarker research linked to specific health benefits. In the meantime, both recreational and elite athletes may want to rethink their mantra for obtaining performance goals. Maintaining immune health is a requirement for “running faster, jumping higher and getting stronger.” References: Carpenter KC, Breslin WL, Davidson T, Adams A, and McFarlin BK. 2012. Baker’s Yeast Beta-Glucan Supplementation in- creases Monocytes and Cytokines Post-Exercise: Implications for Infection risk? British Journal of Nutrition: May 10:1-9. Talbott, S. T. and Talbott J. 2009. “Effect of BETA 1, 3/1, 6 GLUCAN on upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and mood state in marathon athletes.” Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 8: 509-515. McFarlin, BK, Carpenter, KC, Davidson T, McFarlin MA 2013. Baker’s Yeast Beta Glucan supplementation increase salivary IgA and decreases cold/flu symptomatic days after intense exercise. Journal of Dietary Supplements. 10:171-183.