Heart and Cold Updates

Fighting the common cold and protecting the heart, with a bit of stevia thrown in

There are four major supplement updates this week, three of which are new additions to the database whereas the final update is a major supplement that has been revamped.

Echinacea has been added as somewhat of a reference for being an 'anti-cold herb.' Echinacea is technically better than placebo for reducing both sickness frequency (in those who are frequently sick) and the duration of sickness, if taken at the first signs of sickness. Echinacea does not appear to do anything to the symptoms themselves.

Overall echinacea appears to be noteworthy, but at the same time the unreliability of it reduces a lot of faith one can put into the supplement. It is likely that some of the alkylamides are more effective than others ('alkylamide' refers to the collection of more than a dozen molecules which appear to be active) and future research may require isolating these alkylamides and seeing which one does what.

So if echinacea's effectiveness is weak, do we have something that shows promise? Kan Jang capsules (a traditional chinese medicine consisting of both andrographis and eleuthero) have preliminary evidence to support a strong reduction in symptoms, mostly affecting the nose, ears, and throat and also reducing sickness length. Andrographic paniculata was added a few weeks back and appears to be the active component, and we have added the other component known as eleutherococcus senticosus (formerly known as Siberian ginseng and totally unrelated to panax ginseng).

Eleuthero (as its common name) does not appear to be very effective for physical exercise performance improvement, although it may possess adaptogen-like effects and anti-fatigue effects. There are some cognitive protective effects in rats that, while not amazing, are better than other dietary supplement and perhaps deserve some more investigation.

Unrelated to both immunity supplements above is stevia, the natural sweetener. This one is interesting as it is both bioactive (can exert benefits to the body at fairly normal doses) and is theoretically possible to overdose on stevia. An overdose of stevia is likely to negatively influence fertility before anything else, and although controlled usage of stevia is unlikely to have such negative effects, the dose of stevia that is required to induce negative effects is wholly possible (probably around 8g a day, which is still a fair bit). Other sweeteners (aspartame and sucralose) are mostly inactive until extremely high levels of dosage, which allows a great safety buffer. This appears to be absent with stevia.

Finally, our major update was to Coenzyme Q10. It is highly recommended to supplement with CoQ10 if you are using statin drugs or after a myocardial infarction, and preliminary evidence suggest very effective symptom reduction for fibromyalgia. There are a lot of other disease states that also have lower CoQ10 levels, but have less evidence for their usage. Due to the interaction with heart health, it has been added to our heart health stack.

Beyond select disease states where CoQ10 is astoundingly important, CoQ10 is mostly just a moderately potent cardioprotective agent. It can reduce artherosclerosis somewhat (somewhat novel at the level of the lipoprotein, not novel at all at the level of the blood vessel) and secondary to that may reduce blood pressure, but is a bit unreliable in doing so.

Due to the high safety threshold with CoQ10, supplementation is either beneficial or a waste and is likely never adverse or dangerous. Finances may be the determinant if a healthy person wants to use CoQ10 supplementation, as many of the benefits that occur without a disease state may be present but too small to notice.

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