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November 3, 2009

Antioxidants could offer protection to the lungs during flu season

Antioxidants could offer protection to the lungs during flu season

A report published in the November 2009 issue of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal revealed the discovery of researchers at the University of Alabama and Southern Research Institute in Birmingham of a protective effect for antioxidants against lung damage caused by the influenza virus.

Sadis Matalon of the University of Alabama's Department of Anesthesiology Pulmonary Injury and Repair Center and colleagues demonstrated that the virus damages the lungs via its M2 protein, which attacks the cells of the lungs' inner lining by disrupting their ability to remove fluid, resulting in increased susceptibility to pneumonia and other conditions. The M2 protein accomplishes this by decreasing the expression and function of ameloride-sensitive epithelial sodium channels (ENaCs).

The researchers conducted a series of experiments using frog eggs and human airway cells. Airway cells transfected with M2 revealed increased levels of damaging molecules known as reactive oxygen species. Co-administration of M2 with glutathione ester (an antioxidant compound) prevented M2 from causing damage. "In this study we show for the first time that an influenza virus type A protein, M2, down-regulates the function of a major epithelial ion channel, ENaC, both in oocytes microinjected with human ENaCs and in human airway cells . . . by increasing levels of reactive species and activating specific isoforms of protein kinase C," the authors write. "These novel findings suggest a mechanism for the influenza-induced rhinorrhea and life-threatening alveolar edema in humans."

"The recent outbreak of H1N1 influenza and the rapid spread of this strain across the world highlights the need to better understand how this virus damages the lungs and to find new treatments," Dr Matalon remarked. "Additionally, our research shows that antioxidants may prove beneficial in the treatment of flu."

"Although vaccines will remain the first line of intervention against the flu for a long time to come, this study opens the door for entirely new treatments geared toward stopping the virus after you're sick," added Gerald Weissmann, MD, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. "As Thanksgiving approaches, this discovery is another reason to drink red wine to your health."

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Influenza

The most common and dangerous complication of influenza is pneumonia, which can affect people of all ages and may be life-threatening. The people most commonly affected by complications of influenza are 65 years or older or those who have chronic disorders such as diabetes. Newborn infants, like the elderly, are at increased risk of serious complications because of their incompletely developed immune systems. These complications include pneumonia and other lung conditions, as well as occasional heart diseases such as myocarditis. Minor complications of influenza in infants and young children can include ear infections, while the fever itself may be responsible for febrile convulsions in children 6 months to 6 years.

The following doses are higher than the usual recommended doses for these supplements. These higher levels should not be taken constantly, or as a general prophylaxis. They should be taken to enhance seasonal support. This program should be followed for only a few days. At the first sign of flu symptoms, consider taking:

  • Cimetidine—800 to 1000 mg/day
  • Pure Gar brand garlic—9000 mg once or twice a day
  • Kyolic aged garlic extract—3600 mg/day
  • DHEA—200 to 400 mg in the morning
  • Lactoferrin—1200 mg/day
  • Zinc—Two 24-mg lozenges every 2 hours while awake. This is a very high dosage of zinc and is toxic if taken for long periods. Only take this much zinc for a few days.
  • Melatonin—10 to 50 mg at bedtime
  • Vitamin C—6000 mg/day (1000 mg every hour for the first 6 hours), then 3000 mg/day (1000 mg several hours apart).
  • Vitamin E—400 international units (IU) daily
  • Green tea—725 mg/day. A decaffeinated form is available for people who are sensitive to caffeine.
  • Selenium—200 micrograms (mcg) daily
  • Elderberry extract—Take lozenges as needed.

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