Category Archives: immunity

The Best Immune Booster Supplements

Finding ways to boost your immune system naturally with supplements is all the rage these days. From vitamin D to elderberry capsules to zinc and vitamin C, in this article we’ll take a deeper dive into some of the best immune defense supplements out there. 

We’ll share the latest and greatest research about the benefits, risks, and optimal dosing for several of the best natural immune booster supplements, according to science. 

Vitamin D 

What Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in a small amount of foods and a hormone our bodies make. 

Since few foods naturally contain vitamin D, for most people the best way to get enough vitamin D is by spending time in the sunshine (which is good for getting vitamin D but not-so-good for your skin) or by taking supplements. 

Vitamin D Benefits 

  • Helps the body absorb more calcium and phosphorus, both of which are critical for building bone.
  • Supplementation with 800 IU of vitamin D per day reduced hip and nonspinal fractures by about 20%. 
  • A randomized clinical trial in Japanese school children tested whether taking daily vitamin D supplements would prevent seasonal flu. The trial followed nearly 340 children for four months during the height of the winter flu season. Half of the study participants received pills that contained 1,200 IU of vitamin D; the other half received placebo pills. Researchers found that type A influenza rates in the vitamin D group were about 40% lower than in the placebo group.
  • A large meta-analysis of individual participant data indicated that daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation lowers risk of acute respiratory infections.
  • One study of people with autoimmune conditions found “the beneficial effects of supplementing vitamin D deficient individuals with autoimmune disease may extend beyond effects on bone and calcium homeostasis.”
  • In the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, nearly 50,000 healthy men were followed for 10 years. Those who had the lowest levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to have a heart attack as men who had the highest levels. 

Vitamin D Adverse Effects / Risks 

According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin D is generally considered safe when used in appropriate doses. 

However, taking too much vitamin D supplements can be harmful. Children age 9 years and older, adults, and pregnant and breastfeeding women who take more than 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D might experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Kidney stones and kidney damage

Possible drug interactions include:

  • Aluminum
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux)
  • Cholestyramine (Prevalite)
  • Cytochrome P-450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin)
  • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others)
  • Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
  • Thiazide diuretics
  • Steroids
  • Stimulant laxatives
  • Verapamil (Verelan, Calan SR)

Talk to your doctor about vitamin D supplementation if you’re taking any of these. 

Vitamin D Dosing

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, many people may not be getting enough vitamin D. 

Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D (the daily amount needed to maintain healthy bones and normal calcium metabolism in healthy people, assuming minimal sun exposure), is: 

600 IU daily for men and women 19 years and older, and 800 IU daily for adults >70 years. 

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)–the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health–is 4,000 IU of vitamin D for adults and children ages 9+. 

Vitamin C

What Is Vitamin C? 

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue, the formation of collagen, and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. 

Vitamin C Immune Defense Benefits 

Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants for immunity. It has been shown in clinical studies to: 

Since the human body can’t create or store its own vitamin C, it needs to be constantly replenished and that’s where supplements can help. 

Vitamin C Adverse Effects / Risks 

According to a 2020 research review, potential adverse effects of Vitamin C supplementation include headaches, flushing, nausea or vomiting, and dizziness. There have been reports of migraine headaches with a daily dose of 6 grams.

Significant amounts of vitamin C can increase the risk of kidney stones and elevate uric acid and oxalate because it acidifies the urine.

Vitamin C supplementation is contraindicated in blood disorders like thalassemia, G6PD deficiency, sickle cell disease, and hemochromatosis. Avoid taking supplements immediately before or following angioplasty. Diabetic patients should take vitamin C supplements with care as it raises blood sugar levels.

Vitamin C Dosing

The average protective adult dose of vitamin C is 70 to 150 mg daily.

Zinc 

What Is Zinc? 

Zinc is a trace mineral that’s found at high levels in oysters, beef and crab, and in lower amounts in legumes, tofu, pumpkin seeds, cashews and other nuts and seeds. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that between 17% and 30% of the world population has a zinc deficiency. 

Zinc Immunity Benefits

Zinc is known as the “gatekeeper” of immune function and its immune-boosting benefits include: 

Zinc Adverse Effects / Risks 

Acute adverse effects of high zinc intake include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. 

Taking 150–450 mg of zinc per day have been associated with chronic effects such as low copper status, altered iron function, reduced immune function, and reduced levels of high-density lipoproteins. 

Zinc supplements can interact with several types of medications, including: 

  • Antibiotics
  • Penicillamine
  • Diuretics

Talk to your doctor about using a zinc supplement if you’re on any of these medications. 

Zinc Dosing

Zinc has been studied in clinical trials in doses ranging from 45 mg to 300 mg. Research has shown that use of total daily zinc lozenge doses of over 75 mg reduced the duration of the common cold, whereas lower doses did not. 

However, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) has established a daily Upper Limit (UL) for zinc because long-term intakes above the UL increase the risk of adverse health effects. 

AgeMaleFemalePregnantLactating
0–6 months4 mg4 mg
7–12 months5 mg5 mg
1–3 years7 mg7 mg
4–8 years12 mg12 mg
9–13 years23 mg23 mg
14–18 years34 mg34 mg34 mg34 mg
19+ years40 mg40 mg40 mg40 mg

We recommend starting with adding 15 to 30 milligrams of zinc to your daily supplement regimen daily, especially during the fall and winter months and at the first signs of cold or flu. If you get sick, talk to your healthcare professional about upping the dose of zinc for the duration of your symptoms for increased immune defense.

Turmeric

What Is Turmeric? 

Turmeric is a spice that comes from the root of curcuma longa, a plant in the ginger family. Its main active ingredient is a compound called curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow color. 

Turmeric Immune Health Benefits 

Turmeric is known for its antioxidant profile and anti-inflammatory properties. 

  • One study showed turmeric/curcumin may help protect your body from free radicals. 
  • A 2020 research review found that turmeric’s antioxidant effects may also stimulate the action of other antioxidants in your body.
  • A 2017 research review found that turmeric “aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia”.
  • In one study of patients with ulcerative colitis, a common autoimmune disease, patients who took 2 grams of curcumin / day along with prescription medication were more likely to stay in remission than those who took the medication alone. 
  • Turmeric may reduce joint swelling and stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis. 
  • A 2018 study found that “turmeric shows pivotal role in the modulation of immune system”. 

Turmeric Adverse Effects / Risks 

When taken orally in supplement form, turmeric is usually well tolerated. 

In human studies, doses of up to 8000 mg / day of turmeric / curcumin have been used for eight months without toxic effects. 

The most common side effects were GI-related, including:

  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • abdominal distension
  • flatulence
  • dyspepsia
  • nausea
  • gastroesophageal reflux
  • vomiting
  • yellow stool
  • stomach ache

Turmeric extracts can trigger biliary colic (abdominal pain) in people with gallstones. About 7% of the adverse reactions reported to the MHRA for curcuma were for hepatobiliary disorders or abnormal liver function test results.

Turmeric or curcumin-containing preparations may cause heart rate or rhythm disorders.

Curcumin may also have antiplatelet (blood thinning) effects.

Talk to your doctor before supplementing with turmeric / curcumin

Turmeric Dosing

Research shows that 500 milligrams of a turmeric / curcumin supplement twice daily with food appears to be a safe and efficacious dose for most people. 

The dose that’s right for you depends on your overall health and pre-existing conditions you may have. More isn’t necessarily better, and in some cases can be worse, so talk to your doctor first. 

Another important caveat: on its own, curcumin is poorly absorbed. So look for a curcumin / turmeric capsule with piperine (a black pepper extract) or combine it with some healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc.) to increase absorption. 

It’s usually best to take turmeric with or immediately before a meal to avoid any side effects. 

Elderberry

What Is Elderberry? 

Elderberries come from a tree variety known as Sambucus. The berries and flowers of these trees are edible, but must be cooked before they’re consumed (because they’re toxic and can cause diarrhea, vomiting and nausea if consumed uncooked). 

Elderberry Immune Boosting Benefits 

A 2016 randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of 312 economy class passengers traveling overseas from Australia sought to investigate whether elderberry extract has beneficial effects on physical, especially respiratory, and mental health. 

Researchers found that the group that didn’t take the elderberry supplement had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days and the average symptom score over these days was also significantly higher. These data suggest a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers. 

Elderberry also may be an effective option for:

It should be noted that elderberry’s ability to fight the flu has been a point of contention, with one study showing “no evidence that elderberry benefits the duration or severity of influenza”. 

Elderberry Adverse Effects / Risks 

  • Raw unripe elderberries and other parts of the elder tree, such as the leaves and stem, contain toxic substances that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; cooking eliminates this toxin. Large quantities of the toxin may cause serious illness.
  • Little is known about whether it’s safe to use elderberry during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
  • Don’t rely on elderberry or other dietary supplements for prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They have not been shown to be effective.

Elderberry Dosing

Elderberry is available in many different types of products, including syrups, mouth rinses, and capsules. But there are currently no dosing standards for elderberry supplements. It has been studied in doses ranging from 500 mg to 1200 mg daily. 

Long story short, elderberry is a promising but understudied supplement: it may reduce the symptoms of colds and the flu, but the evidence is still preliminary.

Larger controlled clinical studies are needed to better understand the safety, efficacy, and dosing. 

Probiotics 

What Are Probiotics? 

Probiotics are gut microbes that may exert some health benefits. 

Which Probiotics Support Immunity? 

Here are the strain-specific probiotics that may work for boosting your immune system:

Probiotic StrainImmune System Benefit
Bifidobacterium bifidumReduces cold and flu incidence.
Lactobacillus brevisReduces the incidence of flu.
Lactobacillus GGDecreased risk of upper respiratory infections for children in daycare.
Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum Reduces the risk of colds in school-aged children.
Lactobacillus rhamnosusReduces the incidence of pneumonia in people in the intensive care unit.
B. longum Helps prevent the flu in elderly patients.
Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracaseiReduces the number of days with symptoms and severity of colds.

Also, a 2016 review and meta-analysis of 23 randomized controlled trials found that probiotics appear to decrease the incidence of respiratory tract infections in children. 

See our article Which Probiotics Are Best for Immunity? for further reading on this topic. 

Probiotics Adverse Effects / Risks 

According to the Cleveland Clinic

Because microbes used as probiotics already exist naturally in your body, probiotic foods and supplements are generally considered safe. They may trigger allergic reactions, and may also cause mild stomach upset, diarrhea, or flatulence (passing gas) and bloating for the first few days after starting to take them.

There are certain people who need to use caution when using probiotic supplements, including those who:

  • Have a weakened immune system (those going through chemotherapy for example).
  • Have a critical illness.
  • Recently had surgery.

Caution should also be used when giving probiotics to very sick infants.

Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic supplement.

Probiotics Dosing

Probiotics are measured in colony forming units (CFUs), which indicate the number of viable cells. 

Many probiotic supplements contain 1 to 10 billion CFU per dose, but some products contain up to 50 billion CFU or more. 

However, higher CFU counts do not necessarily improve the product’s health effects.

And unfortunately, at this point there are too many strains and not enough clear evidence about the optimal dose for each strain, so probiotic supplementation can often take some trial and error. Be sure to stick with supplements that use strains that have been studied for safety and efficacy in clinical trials (like the ones mentioned above). 

How to Find the Best Natural Immune Booster Supplements  

There are a few things to look for to find the best immune boosting supplements for you

  1. Stick with supplements that are supported by research and have some efficacy and safety data to support them: vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, elderberry, and probiotics. 
  2. Choose a product with optimal doses for efficacy and safety (if optimal doses have been established). 
  3. Look for supplements made in the USA in a GMP-compliant, FDA-approved facility that have been third party lab tested for purity and safety. 

We recommend trying an elderberry with Vitamin C and zinc supplement, along with vitamin D and probiotics to support immune health

If you’re interesting in exploring Pure Food supplements for a strong immune system, read more here:

Pure Food Immunity Bundle: 4 Proven Immune Defense Supplements

Best Supplements for Autoimmune Disease

In 2016, I started experiencing some very strange, life-altering symptoms: debilitating fatigue, GI issues, and unbearably sore joints. 18 months and many doctors later, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called reactive arthritis.

It was a frustrating process, and I wish I would’ve had more information about how to better manage my condition at the time.

Autoimmune diseases are notoriously hard to diagnose, and oftentimes even harder to treat.

And while there are many approved drugs for certain conditions, some of them come with unwanted side effects, which leads many of us to seek out supplements and alternative / homeopathic treatment options that might help.

In this article, we’ll look at supplements that may help with certain types of autoimmune disease. More research is definitely needed in this area, but there are some clinical studies available to help us understand what may work and what appears not to.

It should go without saying, but always talk to your healthcare professional before taking supplements for your autoimmune conditions … especially if you’re taking other medications.

Let’s jump right in …

What Is An Autoimmune Disease?

This description from Cleveland Clinic sums it up well:

Imagine that your body is a castle and your immune system is your army fighting off invaders like bacteria. If your army malfunctions and attacks the castle, you may have lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and/or psoriasis, among a hundred other autoimmune diseases. You may experience pain, fatigue, dizziness, rashes, depression and many more symptoms.

Autoimmune conditions are becoming more and more common. 1 in 15 people in the U.S. now have an autoimmune disease. And unfortunately, they’re one of the top 10 causes of death in women in all age groups (up to age 64).

Let’s look at some of the different types …

Types of Autoimmune Disorders

There are over 100 types of autoimmune diseases. Here are just a few of the most common:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Psoriasis
  • Celiac disease
  • Graves’ disease

What Causes Autoimmune Disease?

The causes are still unknown but there are several risk factors that can increase your likelihood of getting one, including:

  • Certain medications (some blood pressure meds, statins and antibiotics appear to increase risk)
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Being female — 78% of people who have an autoimmune disease are women
  • Obesity
  • Infections

Scientists have also implicated the gut microbiome in numerous autoimmune conditions, including lupus, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Treatment Options for Autoimmune Disorders

Most autoimmune diseases are not curable, but you can manage symptoms with the right treatment methods. Everyone’s immune system, genetics and environment are different, and it’s important to work with your doctor (often a rheumatologist) to determine the best treatment approach for your autoimmune condition.

Common treatment options for autoimmune diseases include:

  • Painkillers
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Depression and anxiety meds
  • Insulin
  • Sleep meds
  • Plasma exchanges
  • Corticosteroids
  • Rash creams and pills
  • Intravenous immune globulin
  • Drugs that suppress (subdue) your immune system (like Humira and Enbrel)

Best Natural Supplements for Autoimmune Disease

Supplements can also play a role in keeping symptoms at bay. Here are few that show promise:

Zinc

According to a 2018 metaanalysis, zinc deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infections and higher risk of autoimmune diseases. People with autoimmune disorders tend to show lower zinc levels.

A research team published a 2020 review that states:

The immune system is highly affected by fluctuations of zinc. Zinc is required for the proper functioning of every immune cell; thus maintaining adequate zinc homeostasis is essential for supporting an effective immune response.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31841960/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793296/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128053782000036

Learn More About Pure Food Supplements Containing Zinc

Vitamin D

An analysis of more than 130 studies showed an inverse association between vitamin D and the development of several autoimmune diseases, such as SLE, thyrotoxicosis, type 1 DM, MS, iridocyclitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis vulgaris, seropositive RA, polymyalgia rheumatica.

And a 2021 research team hypothesized that high doses of Vitamin D may be used to treat autoimmune diseases.

Vitamin D resistance provides a plausible pathomechanism for the development of autoimmune diseases, which could be treated using high-dose vitamin D3 therapy.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31323357/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.655739/full

Quercetin

Quercetin is a natural flavonoid (neuroprotective antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits) that’s in nearly all fruits, herbs, and vegetables.

According to a 2021 research paper titled Potential Implications of Quercetin in Autoimmune Diseases

In several recent studies quercetin has reportedly attenuated rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and systemic lupus erythematosus in humans or animal models.

Quercetin will be expected to become a potential opportunity and supplement for the treatment and prevention of autoimmune diseases.

However, the research team went on to point out that the direct effects of quercetin on immune imbalance in patients are still unconfirmed and further randomized, controlled clinical studies are needed to better understand the efficacy and safety of quercetin for the treatment of autoimmune disorders.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8260830/

https://www.jimmunol.org/content/184/12/6815

Turmeric / Curcumin

Curcumin is a yellow-hued polyphenolic compound that’s the primary bioactive substance in turmeric, a flowering plant of the ginger family best known as a spice used in curry.

It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-boosting properties, and is used as a supplement to help with many conditions.

Studies have shown that curcumin may support patients suffering from autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Curcumin inhibits these autoimmune diseases by regulating inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-12, TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma and associated JAK-STAT, AP-1, and NF-kappaB signaling pathways in immune cells.

The use of purified active compounds such as curcumin at higher doses for therapeutic purposes needs further study.

It has poor bioavailability alone, necessitating special formulations (notably black pepper extract) to be efficiently absorbed.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17569223/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28059453/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18662800/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19594223/

Learn More About Pure Food’s Turmeric Supplement

Glucosamine / Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are the building blocks for cartilage and appear to stimulate the body to make more cartilage.

There are conflicting studies on the efficacy glucosamine and chondroitin, but based on what we know now it does appear that glucosamine and chondroitin can reduce the rate of collagen (joint tissue) degradation and symptoms of osteoarthritis, particularly in the knees.

Glucosamine and chondroitin’s effectiveness for rheumatoid arthritis isn’t as clear, as only a handful of studies have been conducted in relation to RA. Here’s what we know so far …

For RA patients, glucosamine appears to have positive effects for pain. When compared to NSAIDs for pain relief, glucosamine has shown evidence to produce similar pain reduction in RA patients as NSAIDs, without the side effects.

Here’s what Hugh Duckworth, M.D. from the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network has to say:

In general, when taking Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate supplements, if no improvement is seen in two months, you’ll likely not see any improvement over time. Most physicians advise patients to stop taking the supplements altogether after six months if no indication of improvement presents itself.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3828858/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11350488/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6412843/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4138964/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930123057.htm

https://examine.com/supplements/glucosamine/

Learn More About Pure Food’s Glucosamine Supplement

Fish Oil / Krill Oil 

Fish oil and krill oil are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help your body reduce triglycerides, reduce the symptoms of depression, and improve some painful, inflammatory conditions.

The fatty acids EPA and DHA contained in fish and krill oils are involved in regulating various biological processes such as the inflammatory response, various metabolic signaling pathways, and brain function.

There have been a number of clinical trials assessing the benefits of dietary supplementation with fish oils in several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in humans, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches.

According to one research review published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition:

Many of the placebo-controlled trials of fish oil in chronic inflammatory diseases reveal significant benefit, including decreased disease activity and a lowered use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Another research team found that fish oil/krill oil may have “huge potential” to treat autoimmune diseases as type 1 diabetes, RA, SLE, MS.

An animal study found that krill oil helped protect against rheumatoid arthritis.

More research is needed, but fish and krill oils appear to have some benefits that may help people suffering from autoimmune conditions.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12480795/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907316/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11802309/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8401900/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4030645/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17875549/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6776881/

Learn More About Pure Food’s Glucosamine Supplement

Ginger

Zingiber officinale is a plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family, which has traditionally been used for treatment of RA in alternative / homeopathic medicines of many countries.

According to a University of Michigan Medicine study, the main bioactive compound of ginger root, 6-gingerol, is therapeutic in countering the mechanism that fuels certain autoimmune diseases in mice (notably antiphospholipid syndrome and lupus). Hopefully this will lead to human trials to further test the effectiveness of ginger for autoimmune diseases like lupus.

And in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, seventy active RA patients were allocated randomly into two groups who either received 1500 mg ginger powder or placebo daily for 12 weeks.

Disease activity score and gene expression of immunity and inflammation intermediate factors were measured before and after the intervention.

The research team found that ginger can improve RA by decreasing disease manifestations via increasing FoxP3 genes expression and by decreasing RORγt and T-bet genes expression.

Again, further study is needed but ginger may be a supplement worth talking to your doctor about.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30844477/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058601/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34159624/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26714420/

https://insight.jci.org/articles/view/138385

Probiotics

Research on the role probiotics play in autoimmune disorders is limited, but there are a few randomized, controlled trials that have shown that microbial modification by probiotics may improve gastrointestinal symptoms and multi-organ inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and multiple sclerosis.

One research review found that synbiotics and probiotics supplementation has significant effect on some inflammatory and oxidative stress markers; but, “the number of trials was too small and further investigations may be needed.”

One thing is for certain though: our microbiomes play a role in many autoimmune diseases. An article published in the journal Nature had this to say:

Scientists are trying to understand the mechanisms behind the apparent ability of the gut microbiota to trigger or to sustain autoimmune conditions. They hope to turn that knowledge into better therapies for conditions that are currently difficult to treat — perhaps even in the form of simple probiotic pills.

Future studies are definitely needed to assess safety issues and understand optimal strains and combinations.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30340338/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33642142/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213508/

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00197-z

Learn More About Pure Food’s Probiotic Supplement

Summary: Will Autoimmune Supplements Work for You?

Ultimately, it’s up to you and your doctor(s) to decide which treatment options are best for your autoimmune conditions.

Before taking any supplement, it’s important to have a conversation with a healthcare professional so they can evaluate the potential benefits, risks, and side effects based on your unique condition. This is especially important if you’re taking medications to ensure there are no drug interactions you need to worry about.

More research is definitely needed in this area, but supplements may be able to help you alleviate at least some of your symptoms, depending on your condition.

Again, talk to several different healthcare experts so you’re armed with as much knowledge from as many experts as you can and then use that knowledge to make informed decisions that are best for your unique autoimmune condition.

Speaking from experience, it can be an arduous journey, but once you identify 1 or 2 supplements that work well for you, it can make quite the difference in how you feel.

Probiotics and Immune Health: Which Strains Are Best for Immunity?

how to boost immunity naturally with probiotics

Can probiotics boost your immune system? The answer, as you’ll learn below, is yes … but there are some caveats.

In this article we’ll review several research studies that have explored the role probiotics play in immunity and reveal what, if any, probiotic strains may help improve your immune health. We’ll also talk about the right foods to eat to boost your immunity and situations in which you should probably avoid probiotics.

Let’s dig in …

The Microbiome, Explained

You have an estimated 40 trillion bacterial cells living inside your body at any given time.

A good chunk of these microorganisms live in your gut and are part of your “microbiome,” the collective community of microbes that reside with you.

The microbiome plays quite the important role in your body, particularly when it comes to immunity …

Scientists have discovered that 70-80 percent of your immune system is controlled by your microbiome.

And your gut microbiome is largely shaped by what you eat and drink, as we’ll explore further below. First, let’s talk probiotics …

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help keep your body healthy and working well. These good bacteria can provide assistance in a number of interesting ways.

Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics can help you maintain a healthy balance in your body by:

  • Supporting your immune function and controlling inflammation.
  • Helping your body digest food.
  • Keeping bad bacteria from getting out of control and making you sick.
  • Creating vitamins.
  • Helping support the cells that line your gut to prevent bad bacteria that you may have consumed (through food or drinks) from entering your blood.

Probiotics are commonly used by medical professionals to treat the following conditions:

  • Diarrhea
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • H. pylori (the cause of ulcers)
  • Vaginal infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Infection of the GI tract caused by Clostridium difficile
  • Pouchitis (a possible side effect of surgery that removes the colon)
  • Eczema in children

Let’s take a deeper dive into the role probiotics play in your immune health, specifically.

Probiotics and Immune Health: What We Know Based on Current Research Studies

Study #1: Beneficial Effects of Probiotic Consumption on the Immune System

According to this 2019 study published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism medical journal:

Probiotic bacteria have significant effects on the functionality of the mucosal and systemic immune systems through the activation of multiple immune mechanisms.

The researchers in the study discovered that probiotic bacteria induce signals in the intestine that improve the behavior of the immune system and the host’s health. Probiotic bacteria were deemed to be an “effective tool for the maintenance of the intestinal homeostasis and the stimulation of the mucosal immune system.”

Study #2: Prospective Study of Probiotic Supplementation Results in Immune Stimulation and Improvement of Upper Respiratory Infection Rate

In a 2018 double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, researchers found that a 3-strain probiotic supplement was “safe and effective for fighting the common cold and influenza-like respiratory infections by boosting the immune system.”

Probiotics do appear to be somewhat effective in preventing the common cold. More research is needed but early results are promising.

“Probiotics are particularly helpful for maintaining normal bowel function and good digestive health,” says Bruce Eisendorf, M.D., a family medicine doctor at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “They also keep your immune system strong so you can fight and prevent infection.”

Study #3: Probiotics and Immune Health

A 2011 study found that:

Probiotics showed therapeutic potential for diseases, including several immune response-related diseases, such as allergy, eczema, viral infection, and potentiating vaccination responses.

Which Probiotics Are Best for Immunity?

Here are the strain-specific probiotics that may work for boosting your immune system:

Probiotic StrainImmune System Benefit
Bifidobacterium bifidumReduces cold and flu incidence.
Lactobacillus brevisReduces the incidence of flu.
Lactobacillus GGDecreased risk of upper respiratory infections for children in daycare.
Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum Reduces the risk of colds in school-aged children.
Lactobacillus rhamnosusReduces the incidence of pneumonia in people in the intensive care unit.
B. longum Helps prevent the flu in elderly patients.
Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracaseiReduces the number of days with symptoms and severity of colds.

*Shameless Plug Alert: Our digestive health supplement, Pure Food DIGEST, contains ALL of these probiotic strains!

How to Build a Healthy Immune System By Feeding Your Microbiome the Right Foods

One way to improve the levels of healthy bacteria in your gut without probiotic supplements is to eat more foods these “good bacteria” like to eat—namely, fiber-rich foods.

This means increasing your intake of:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Beans/legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds

Getting all your fiber from a single source (like a fiber supplement, for example) is not the best way to boost your gut health and immunity.

Your goal should be to eat a variety of fiber-rich foods each day.

Another way to promote a healthy gut and immune system is to eat foods that already contain beneficial bacteria (probiotics).

This includes:

  • Yogurt, kefir, and other cultured dairy products (there are plant-based options available now too).
  • Kim-chi, sauerkraut, and other fermented vegetables.
  • Miso, tempeh, natto, and other fermented soy products.
  • Kombucha (fermented tea).

All of these products are available on grocery store shelves or you can make them yourself, which is actually quite fun. My personal DIY foods: kombucha, preserved lemons, fermented pepper paste, and pickles.

Is it Safe to Take Probiotics When You’re Sick?

Probiotic supplements are generally safe for healthy people.

Studies show that taking probiotics may help you get sick less and reduce the amount of time you’re sick for (in regards to common colds/respiratory infections).

But there are some situations where beneficial bacteria (either from foods or supplements) can cause adverse affects.

Acute illnesses such as pancreatitis, Crohn’s, colitis, and celiac disease can lead to increased intestinal permeability, which is when bacteria penetrate the lining of the gut far enough to cause an inflammatory reaction from your immune cells. If your gut is already inflamed, that can spell trouble.

Those with compromised immune systems, either from a severe illness or due to medical treatment for a disease, are also generally advised to avoid probiotic foods and supplements. Some studies have found that using probiotics in severely ill or immunocompromised individuals can increase the risk of adverse effects such as infections.

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3 Research-backed Ways to Stay Healthy and Get Sick Less

foods to eat to stay healthy

Given the current state of the world, I thought I’d take a minute to share my “secrets” for staying healthy and protecting your immune system.

After developing an autoimmune disease that caused me to get sick all the time from 2016 – 2018, I have only been sick one time in the past year (a minor cold that went away after two days).

To put that in perspective, my wife is an elementary school teacher and we have a 6-year-old in school and three-year-old in daycare. We have seen our share of germs run through our house (including, but not limited to, croup, bronchitis, the flu, pneumonia, stomach bugs, conjunctivitis, ear infections, sinus infections, hand foot and mouth disease, etc.). Not COVID-19, it seems.

Wanna know how I’ve managed to stay healthy while everyone around me is sick?

Read on to find out some proven methods you can use to give your immune system a boost.

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How to Stay Healthy: 3 Things You Should Focus On

1. Sleeping. If you struggle with sleep, I can’t stress the importance of creating habits that help you sleep better enough (more on this below). Sleep loss and disrupted sleep are strongly linked to inflammation. And inflammation makes you more susceptible to illness. I was an insomniac for years. While I still wake up a few times during the night, my sleep quality and consistency has improve exponentially since I started making sleep a priority. My best tips: i.) go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, ii.) sleep in a dark, quiet space (a white noise machine can do wonders), iii.) if your mind spins in bed, focus on slowing your breathing and thinking about the people you’re thankful for in your life.

2. Eating / Supplementing. What you eat has a profound effect on your immune system response. It’s well known the modern Western Diet is one of the worst culprits when it comes to inflammation. If you don’t put the right foods and drinks in your body, you will get sick more often. Period.

The tricky part is finding the “right foods” for you, and then creating systems (or habits) that’ll help you eat healthy habitually every day (most peoples’ systems do the opposite).

Try getting both allergy and microbiome testing done as a first step. I recommend Viome for the microbiome test … it’s $120 or so. These tests will tell you exactly which foods you should / shouldn’t be eating. As I said in one of my emails, personalized nutrition is the future of healthy eating. And the future is here and accessible to all!

My “systems” that help me stay healthy include:

  • foods to eat to stay healthyCooking everyday. I know that if I get takeout or go to a restaurant then I’m usually not going to eat as healthy. So I try to only eat out about once a week and the rest of the days I make time to cook for myself and my family. I schedule time on my calendar from 5-6ish every day to cook dinner and prepare lunches for everyone for the next day.
  • Planning meals ahead of time. Even if you don’t like cooking, you can still create systems that help you eat better by having a plan for meal time. If you don’t have a plan, you’ll likely succumb to the easy way out (which is usually food you know isn’t going to help you stay healthy). It can be as simple as writing down a more nutritious takeout option you’re thinking about for dinner instead of fast food, or as complex as tracking everything you eat (I prefer the former, personally). Be deliberate and specific about what you are/are not going to eat today.
  • Avoiding trigger foods and sticking with foods I know don’t cause an inflammatory response in my body. Again, go see an allergist and get your microbiome tested to see which foods are good/not good for you.
  • Spending most of the grocery budget on perishables. I don’t like wasting food, so I know if I load my shopping cart with fresh fruits and vegetables, I will make sure they get eaten. Minimize the processed, carb-laden snacks in favor of fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds (or smoothies with all of these, ideally!). One of my easiest systems I use is creating a grocery list without junk food on it each week. If it’s not on the list, I don’t buy it.
  • Drinking lots of water. Staying hydrated is one of the keys to immunity. Drinking sugar-sweetened coffees and sodas is not. Also, 1-2 glasses of red wine a night may help with immune response.
  • Taking supplements. These are some of the supplements I take each day that are proven by research to keep your immune system strong:
  1. Probiotics / Digestive Enzymes
  2. Zinc / Calcium / Magnesium
  3. Vitamin D
  4. Vitamin C

3. Exercising. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. It’s well known that our bodies break down as we age. But there’s an easy way to drastically slow that progression: get up and frickin move!

As many of us age we “let ourselves go” and this leads to an endless cycle of injuries and rehab. Exercise is the absolute best way to keep your muscles, bones, and tissues strong. Being sedentary, on the other hand, is one of the worst things you can do for your immunity.

There’s no excuse not to exercise (unless you’re injured and rehabbing an injury). Find something you enjoy doing (walking, golf, tennis, gardening, hiking, biking, swimming, yoga, etc.) and schedule it into your damn calendar every day or every other day. Even 5 minutes makes a difference. Make exercise part of your daily system and you will get sick much less. If you’re still not convinced, check out some of the conclusions from this 2019 research paper:

  • Regular exercise training has an overall anti-inflammatory influence mediated through multiple pathways. Epidemiologic studies consistently show decreased levels of inflammatory biomarkers in adults with higher levels of physical activity and fitness, even after adjustment for potential confounders such as BMI.
  • There is increasing evidence that the circulation surge in cells of the innate immune system with each exercise bout and the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect of exercise training have a summation effect over time in modulating tumorigenesis, atherosclerosis, and other disease processes.
  • Recent studies indicate that exercise and physical fitness diversifies the gut microbiota, but more human research is needed to determine potential linkages to immune function in physically fit individuals and athletes.

Now, the researchers in that study also cautioned that overtraining and stressful competitions can make you more susceptible to getting sick. So it’s important to make time for recovery if you’re exercising hard like I do (stretching, foam rolling, light yoga, percussion and/or massage therapy, chiropractic care, etc.).

Long story short, the best way to stay healthy is to take care of your body (because it’ll take care of you if you do).

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18 of the Best Health Supplements That Actually Work

Article Summary:

  • Most nutritional supplements are just marketing hype.
  • Some supplements, however, are backed by multiple research studies. You’ll learn about 15 with solid efficacy/safety evidence below.
  • You’ll also find out which ones, specifically, may help with these health challenges: Energy / Focus, Gut Health, Immunity, Pain / Inflammation, Fat Loss / Lean Muscle Gain, Relaxation / Anxiety

Download Our FREE Gut Health Guide Here

Do nutritional supplements work?

While it’s true that most dietary supplements are complete junk that don’t do much of anything, saying all supplements have no benefit is just plain absurd.

Because there are a handful of health and wellness supplements that have very promising health benefits.

In this article, you’ll learn about 15 of the best supplements that help address some of the most common health challenges (losing weight, easing digestive issues, increasing energy, boosting immunity, alleviating pain, and decreasing anxiety).

Each of the supplements you will learn about has multiple peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled research that support its efficacy and safety.

I’m confident you’ll find something in here that can help you.

Click the links below to jump around or scroll down to get started.

Energy/Focus

Rhodiola

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginseng

Gut Health

Probiotics / Digestive Enzymes

Turmeric / Curcumin

Fiber

Immunity

Zinc

Vitamin D

Pain / Inflammation

Glucosamine / Chondroitin

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol)

Muscle Gain / Weight Loss

Protein Powder

Creatine

Beta Alanine

Stress / Anxiety / Sleep

Ashwagandha

Lemon Balm

Reishi Mushroom

CBD

 

The Best Supplements for Energy / Focus

There’s no shortage of supplements touted for their ability to help you improve energy and focus.

Unfortunately, most don’t work.

Here are three that do:

Rhodiola

Rhodiola rosea health benefits research

Rhodiola rosea is an herb that’s native to the arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and Alaska. It has a long history of use as a medicinal plant in Iceland, Sweden, France, Russia, and Greece.

Rhodiola is a popular adaptogen, a class of plants can help your body combat physical, chemical or biological stressors.

It’s most researched benefits are as-follows:

BenefitsEvidence
1. Reduce Fatigue
2. Improve Cognition

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11081987
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19170145
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12725561
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10839209
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15256690
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21036578
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22228617
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0108416
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17990195

Preliminary evidence has also looked at neuroprotection and lowering symptoms of depression, among other possible benefits (although more research is needed on these).

Is Rhodiola Safe?

Rhodiola is generally recognized as safe but might cause dizziness, dry mouth, or excessive saliva production for some people. Here are some other information safety considerations:

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn’t enough reliable information about the safety of taking Rhodiola if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Rhodiola might simulate the immune system, which may impact people with autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and others.
  • Diabetes: Rhodiola might reduce blood sugar levels, so should be used with caution in patients taking insulin or other diabetes medications.
  • Low blood pressure: Rhodiola might lower blood pressure, so should be used with caution in patients taking blood pressure meds.

If you’re on any medications or have pre-existing conditions, talk to your doctor before taking any nutritional supplement.

Ginkgo Biloba

ginkgo biloba supplement

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species. Most ginkgo supplements are made with extract prepared from its fan-shaped leaves.

The most helpful components of ginkgo are believed to be flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant qualities, and terpenoids, which help improve circulation by dilating blood vessels.

These are the biggest benefits of taking a ginkgo supplement, based on the body of evidence available today:

BenefitsEvidence
1. Reduce cognitive decline (particularly in people who have dementia).
2. Improve short term memory.*
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22459264
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23196025
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8741021
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hup.470020305
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22086747
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10890330
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21802920
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22700031
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12404671

*Note: Ginkgo’s effect on memory enhancement has had conflicting results. While some evidence suggests that ginkgo extract might modestly improve memory in healthy adults, most studies indicate that ginkgo doesn’t improve memory, attention or brain function.

Is Ginkgo Biloba Safe?

When used orally in moderate amounts, ginkgo appears to be safe for most healthy adults. Here are some important safety considerations when taking this supplement though:

  • In certain people, ginkgo can cause headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, upset stomach, constipation, and allergic skin reactions.
    • If you are epileptic or prone to seizures, avoid ginkgo.
    • If you are older, have a bleeding disorder or are pregnant, don’t take ginkgo because it might increase your risk of bleeding.
    • Ginkgo might interfere with the management of diabetes.
  • Don’t eat raw or roasted ginkgo seeds, which can be poisonous.
  • Possible interactions include: Alprazolam (Xanax), Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs, herbs and supplements, Anticonvulsants, Antidepressants, Certain statins, Diabetes drugs, Ibuprofen

Ginseng

Ginseng root supplement for

The herbal remedies collectively referred to as “ginseng” are derived from the roots of several different plants. One of the most commonly used and researched of the ginseng plants is Panax ginseng, also called Asian or Korean ginseng.

The main active components of Panax ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.

Results of clinical research studies demonstrate that Panax ginseng may improve psychologic function, immune function, and conditions associated with diabetes.

BenefitsEvidence
1. Improve cognition and focus.
2. Reduce blood sugar.
3. Boost happiness and well being.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15982990
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20737519
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16401645
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8721940
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11895046

Is Ginseng Safe?

  • Overall, Panax ginseng appears to be well tolerated, although caution is advised about combining it with some pharmaceuticals, such as warfarin, oral hypoglycemic agents, insulin, and phenelzine.
  • Because ginseng may affect blood sugar levels, people taking drugs for diabetes should not use ginseng without talking to their doctor first. Ginseng can interact with warfarin and with some medicines for depression. Do not take ginseng without consulting your doctor if you take any medications. Caffeine may amplify ginseng’s stimulant effects.
  • Given the lack of evidence about its safety, ginseng is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The Best Supplements for Gut Health

GI issues plague so many of us these days. 

Here are some supplements that can offer relief:

Probiotics

best probiotic supplements

I wrote about probiotics in my article Do Probiotics Work? Here’s What Science Really Says.

Here are the biggest takeaways from that piece:

  1. Many foods claiming probiotic content don’t contain strains that can survive the harsh conditions of your stomach. 
  2. Eating fermented foods is good … but not the same as taking probiotics.
  3. More strains doesn’t always means better. What’s more important is finding a product/strain that has been studied to treat the health condition you’re looking to improve.
  4. Talk to your doctor (preferably a gastroenterologist) about which probiotics you should be taking for specific health conditions.
  5. Diet and lifestyle are still the most important determining factors of gut microbial composition.

With that in mind, here are some strains that do appear to work for GI health:

BenefitsEvidence
1. L. acidophilus produces a number of powerful antimicrobial compounds in the gut that can inhibit the growth and toxin producing capabilities of some 23 known disease-causing pathogens.

2. Bifidobacteria consume old fecal matter, have the ability to remove cancer-forming enzymes, and protect against the formation of liver, colon, and mammary gland tumors.

3. L. salivarius helps digest foods for a healthy intestinal tract and makes vital nutrients more assimilable.

4. L. plantarum has the ability to eliminate thousands of species of pathogenic bacteria (such as E. coli).

5. B. coagulans appears to help alleviate abdominal pain and diarrhea in IBS patients, decrease gas, and improve bowel movements.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3700768/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3539293/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908950/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5031164/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29409331
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30141154
https://bmcgastroenterol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-230X-9-85
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09168451.2014.972331

Are Probiotics Safe?

Probiotics are mostly unregulated, which is a problem. Certain studies have reported probiotic-related deaths and others have shown adverse events

That’s why’s it’s so important to make sure the strain(s) you’re taking have been studied for safety and efficacy in peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled clinical trials.

Personally, I take two capsules of Pure Food DIGEST (Digestive Enzymes + Probiotics + Prebiotics) every day–one capsule with breakfast and one with dinner–and it has made a huge difference in how I feel. 

Turmeric / Curcumin

turmeric curcumin health benefits

Turmeric is a spice that’s a member of the ginger family. It’s commonly used in several types of Asian cuisine. Turmeric roots contains a yellow-colored compound called curcumin that has some pretty impressive health properties.

In addition to the digestive benefits below, there is strong evidence that shows turmeric is high in anti-oxidants, which help protect your cells from damage and can help reduce inflammation, pain, anxiety and even symptoms of depression.

BenefitsEvidence
1. Relieve IBS
2. Aid digestion
3. Ease heartburn
4. Reduce gas and bloating
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3882399/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5553098/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731878/

Is Turmeric Safe?

According to JECFA (The Joint United Nations and World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives) and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) reports, the Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) value of curcumin is 0–3 mg/kg body weight.

Despite this well-established safety profile, some negative side effects have been reported. A small percentage of people in several clinical studies reported nausea and diarrhea.

Fiber

foods high in fiber

Dietary fiber is a plant-derived nutrient that can’t be digested by your body. This is a good thing because fiber helps move material through your digestive system.

Problem is, most Americans still aren’t getting enough of it from their diet, especially if you follow a low carb or ketogenic diets.

The recommended daily intake of fiber is at least 25-30 grams. Most people get around 15.

A 2019 meta analysis of studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years showed that the health benefits of eating at least 25g or more of dietary fiber a day included:

BenefitsEvidence
1. Lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, many types of cancers.
2. Improve digestive health.
3. Live longer.
https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l159
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3399949/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25552267

If you’re struggling to get enough fiber from whole foods in your diet, then a supplement containing a little extra fiber may help. In rare cases, eating more fiber can lead to side effects. Here are some specific examples:

Is Fiber Safe?

  • Fiber supplements may decrease the absorption of some medications. Therefore, you should not take supplements within 2 hours of taking other medications.
  • When using fiber supplements or increasing dietary fiber intake, you should gradually increase your intake over a few weeks to avoid or reduce adverse effects such as intestinal flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and cramping.
  • If you have a preexisting medical conditions, and especially one in which you need to restrict fluid intake (e.g., renal dysfunction or congestive heart failure), or if you’re currently taking any medications you should discuss the use of fiber supplements with your primary health care provider.
  • If you have intestinal ulcerations, stenosis, or disabling adhesions you should avoid fiber supplements because of the possibility of fecal impaction or intestinal obstruction.

The Best Supplements for Immunity

Zinc

is zinc good for immunity

Zinc is an essential trace mineral and the second most abundant metal in humans. Since the human body does not store excess zinc, it must be consumed regularly as part of the diet. Zinc deficiency in humans is quite prevalent, affecting over two billion people

Here are some proven benefits of taking a zinc supplement:

BenefitsEvidence
1. Boost your immune system.
2. Treating common cold and recurrent ear infections, the flu, upper respiratory tract infections.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277319/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3636409/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748737/

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Zinc

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0–6 months2 mg2 mg  
7–12 months3 mg3 mg  
1–3 years3 mg3 mg  
4–8 years5 mg5 mg  
9–13 years8 mg8 mg  
14–18 years11 mg9 mg12 mg13 mg
19+ years11 mg8 mg11 mg12 mg

Source: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc

Is Zinc Safe?

  • Zinc is likely safe for most adults when applied to the skin, or when taken by mouth in amounts not larger than 40 mg daily.
  • In some people, zinc might cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, metallic taste, kidney and stomach damage, and other side effects. Using zinc on broken skin may cause burning, stinging, itching, and tingling.
  • Zinc should not be inhaled through the nose, as it might cause permanent loss of smell. Avoid using nose sprays containing zinc.
  • Taking more than 100 mg of supplemental zinc daily or taking supplemental zinc for 10 or more years doubles the risk of developing prostate cancer. There is also concern that taking large amounts of a multivitamin plus a separate zinc supplement increases the chance of dying from prostate cancer.
  • Taking 450 mg or more of zinc daily can cause problems with blood iron. Single doses of 10-30 grams of zinc can be fatal.

Vitamin D

vitamin d immunity benefits

Vitamin D is a nutrient your body needs to keep your bones healthy. Our bodies can only absorb calcium, the main part of bones, when vitamin D is present. 

Vitamin D is not naturally present in most foods … but you will often find it in fortified milk, cereal, and fatty fish such as salmon.

Our bodies can also make vitamin D from sunlight. 

The amount of vitamin D your skin makes from sunlight depends on several factors, including the time of day, season, latitude and your skin pigmentation. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, vitamin D production might decrease or be completely absent during the winter months. Sunscreen, while important for preventing skin cancer, also can decrease vitamin D production.

Many older adults, in particular, don’t get regular exposure to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D. 

If your doctor suspects you’re not getting enough vitamin D, a simple blood test can check the levels of this vitamin in your blood.

Taking a multivitamin with vitamin D may help improve bone health. The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for people ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years.

BenefitsEvidence

1. Decrease risks or falls and fractures in the elderly. 
2. Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Lowering risk of colorectal cancer.
4. May improve inflammation and clinical symptoms in COVID-19 patients.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17302660/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19307517/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17296473/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32871238/

 

Is Vitamin D Safe?

  • Taken in appropriate doses, vitamin D is generally considered safe.

  • However, taking too much vitamin D in the form of supplements can be harmful. Children age 9 years and older, adults, and pregnant and breastfeeding women who take more than 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D might experience:

    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Poor appetite and weight loss
    • Constipation
    • Weakness
    • Confusion and disorientation
    • Heart rhythm problems
    • Kidney stones and kidney damage
  • Possible drug interactions include:
    • Aluminum. Taking vitamin D and aluminum-containing phosphate binders, which may be used to treat high serum phosphate levels in people with chronic kidney disease, might cause harmful levels of aluminum in people with kidney failure in the long term.
    • Anticonvulsants. The anticonvulsants phenobarbital and phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek) increase the breakdown of vitamin D and reduce calcium absorption.
    • Atorvastatin (Lipitor). Taking vitamin D might affect the way your body processes this cholesterol drug.
    • Calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux). Don’t take vitamin D with this psoriasis drug. The combination might increase the risk of too much calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia).
    • Cholestyramine (Prevalite). Taking vitamin D with this cholesterol-lowering drug can reduce your absorption of vitamin D.
    • Cytochrome P-450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates. Use vitamin D cautiously if you’re taking drugs processed by these enzymes.
    • Digoxin (Lanoxin). Avoid taking high doses of vitamin D with this heart medication. High doses of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which increases the risk of fatal heart problems with digoxin.
    • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others). Avoid taking high doses of vitamin D with this blood pressure drug. High doses of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which might reduce the drug’s effectiveness.
    • Orlistat (Xenical, Alli). Taking this weight-loss drug can reduce your absorption of vitamin D.
    • Thiazide diuretics. Taking these blood pressure drugs with vitamin D increases your risk of hypercalcemia.
    • Steroids. Taking steroid mediations such as prednisone can reduce calcium absorption and impair your body’s processing of vitamin D.
    • Stimulant laxatives. Long-term use of high doses of stimulant laxatives can reduce vitamin D and calcium absorption.
    • Verapamil (Verelan, Calan SR). Taking high doses of vitamin D with this blood pressure drug can cause hypercalcemia, and might also reduce the effectiveness of verapamil.

The Best Supplements for Pain / Inflammation

Almost a third of Americans suffer from chronic pain–nearly 100 million people.

Prescription pain medications like opoids have become a major problem though.

Here are some supplements that can help relieve pain naturally, without the use of prescription meds:

Glucosamine / Chondroitin

glucosamine chondroiton for joint pain

Glucosamine is a supplement derived from shellfish that may provide minor pain relief and help people who suffer from arthritis (particularly of the knee).

Chondroitin is a supplement frequently paired with glucosamine as a combination therapy to help with joint pain and stiffness, and other symptoms of osteoarthritis.

BenefitsEvidence
1. Decrease pain.
2. Lessen arthritis symptoms.
3. Reduce collagen degradation.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11279782
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17265490
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12860572
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12374520
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19724889
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29980200

Are Glucosamine / Chondroitin Safe?

  • No serious side effects have been reported in large, well-conducted studies of people taking glucosamine, chondroitin, or both for up to 3 years.
  • However, glucosamine or chondroitin may interact with the anticoagulant (blood-thinning) drug warfarin (Coumadin).
  • A study in rats showed that long-term use of moderately large doses of glucosamine might damage the kidneys. Although results from animal studies don’t always apply to people, this study does raise concern.
  • Glucosamine might affect the way your body handles sugar, especially if you have diabetes or other blood sugar problems, such as insulin resistance or impaired glucose tolerance.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

omega 3 fatty acid supplement health

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fats—your body can’t make them from scratch and therefore must get them from food. Foods high in Omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts, flax seeds, and leafy vegetables.

Omega-3 fats are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and help regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.

There are three main omega-3s:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) come mainly from fish, so they are sometimes called marine omega-3s.
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the most common omega-3 fatty acid in most Western diets, is found in vegetable oils and nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fat, especially in grass-fed animals.

Omega-3 fats have been shown to help with a variety of health conditions …

BenefitsEvidence
1. Prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.
2. Control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.
4. Reduce symptoms of depression.
5. Reduce arthritis-related joint pain.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21975919
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150191/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21903025
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295086/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26387397
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16531187

I personally use Krill Oil, and highly recommend it.

Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids Safe?

  • Side effects of omega-3 supplements are usually mild. They include unpleasant taste, bad breath, bad-smelling sweat, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Several large studies have linked higher blood levels of long-chain omega-3s with higher risks of prostate cancer. However, other research has shown that men who frequently eat seafood have lower prostate cancer death rates and that dietary intakes of long-chain omega-3s aren’t associated with prostate cancer risk. The reason for these apparently conflicting findings is unclear. 
  • Omega-3 supplements may interact with drugs that affect blood clotting.
  • It’s uncertain whether people with seafood allergies can safely take fish oil supplements.

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol

Pine Bark Extract Pycnogenol

Pycnogenol, also known as “French Maritime Pine Bark Extract,” contains catechins similar to those found in green tea, grape seed extract and cocoa polyphenols. 

Pcynogenol does appear to possess dual anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and its benefits include increased blood flow and improved blood glucose control.

BenefitsEvidence

1. Promotes healthy aging. 
2. Improves symptoms of knee pain for patients with osteoarthritis.
3. Shows anti-inflammatory effects.
4.Increases antioxidant capability. 
5. Improved endothelial function in hypertensive patients.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30215292
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18570266 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3203267/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12530550
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14659974

Side Effects

  • One study showed unwanted effects of a “mild and transient nature,” such as gastrointestinal problems, vertigo, headache and nausea. 

The Best (Legal) Supplements for Building Muscle and Losing Fat

Protein Powder

protein powder plant

Proteins are organic molecules made up of amino acids (the building blocks of life). Protein helps build, maintain, and replace the tissues in your body. Your muscles, organs, and immune system are made up mostly of protein.

It’s well known that eating an adequate amount of protein is necessary if you’re trying to alter your body composition (gain muscle, lose fat, etc.).

Many folks, particularly those who follow a plant-based diet, struggle to get adequate protein from food alone though.

That’s where taking a protein powder supplement may help.

Here are some known benefits:

BenefitsEvidence
1. Build lean body mass (muscle).
2. Reduce body fat.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
4. Strengthen bones as you age.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25926512
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777747/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25628520
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905294/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907525/

Protein Powder Side Effects

  • Since protein powders are dietary supplements, the FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products.
  • Some proteins, particularly dairy-based ones, may cause digestive distress. People with dairy allergies or trouble digesting lactose can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they use a milk-based protein powder.
  • Protein powders often have gut-disrupting gums and fillers, as well as added sugars or artificial sweeteners, many of which are carcinogenic.

Find out how to pick the best protein powder for you with this free guide.


Creatine

does creatine build muscle

Creatine is an amino acid found in your body’s muscles and in your brain. Though it can be made synthetically, most people get creatine through seafood and red meat. The body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys also make creatine.

Creatine is one of the best supplements for building lean body mass and increasing athletic performance.

Here’s proof …

BenefitsEvidence
1. Increase power and anaerobic running capacity.
2. Build lean mass.
3. Decrease fatigue.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12945830
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14636102
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11677005
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19387386
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17194255

Is Creatine Safe?

  • When used orally at appropriate doses, creatine is likely safe to take for up to five years. However, there is concern that creatine taken in high doses is possibly unsafe and could damage the liver, kidneys or heart.
  • Creatine can cause: Muscle cramping, Nausea, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Gastrointestinal pain, Dehydration, Weight gain, Water retention, Heat intolerance, Fever
  • Don’t take creatine if you have a history of kidney disease or you have conditions such as diabetes that increase the risk of kidney problems. There also is some concern that creatine might increase mania in people who have bipolar disorder.
  • Many drugs might interact with creatine and increase the risk of kidney damage. Possible drug interactions include: Nephrotoxic drugs, Caffeine and Ephedra. Combining caffeine with creatine might decrease the efficacy of creatine. Combining caffeine with creatine and the supplement ephedra might increase the risk of serious side effects, such as stroke.

Beta Alanine

Beta alanine muscle growth

Betaalanine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the body. 

While beta alanine hasn’t been studied as much as creatine, there’s some compelling evidence about the effects of beta-alanine on body composition:

BenefitsEvidence
1. Improve exercise performance (particularly HIIT).
2. Stimulate lean body mass growth.
https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-015-0090-y
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19210788
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3313163/

Is Beta Alanine Safe?

  • Beta-alanine may interact with some heart medications and with drugs for erectile dysfunction.
  • Its safety has not been established for children, people with particular diseases or conditions, or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Err on the safe side and talk to your doctor before you take beta-alanine.

The Best Supplements for Anxiety, Relaxation, and Sleep

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha benefits

Ashwagandha is a plant that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

It’s one of the most effective adaptogens and may also provide neuroprotection and enhance athletic performance.

BenefitsEvidence
1. Reduce anxiety and stress levels.
2. Increase power output.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19718255
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21170205
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26609282

Is Ashwagandha Safe?

  • Ashwagandha is probably safe when taken by mouth short-term. The long-term safety of ashwagandha is not known. Large doses of ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Do not use ashwagandha if you are pregnant. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might cause miscarriages. Not enough is known about the use of ashwagandha during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
  • Diabetes: Ashwagandha might lower blood sugar levels. This could interfere with medications used for diabetes and cause blood sugar levels to go to low.
  • High or low blood pressure: Ashwagandha might decrease blood pressure. This could cause blood pressure to go to low in people with low blood pressure; or interfere with medications used to treat high blood pressure.
  • Stomach ulcers: Ashwagandha can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Don’t use ashwagandha if you have a stomach ulcer.
  • “Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Ashwagandha might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using ashwagandha.
  • Surgery: Ashwagandha may slow down the central nervous system. Healthcare providers worry that anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery might increase this effect. Stop taking ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
  • Thyroid disorders: Ashwagandha might increase thyroid hormone levels. Ashwagandha should be used cautiously or avoided if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid hormone medications.
  • Possible Drug Interactions
    • Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants).
    • Sedative medications (Benzodiazepines).
    • Sedative medications (CNS depressants).

The following haven’t been studied as much as ashwagandha but preliminary evidence suggests these can also help ease anxiety:

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm anxiety

Lemon balm is a perennial herb from the mint family. The leaves, which have a mild lemon aroma, are used to make medicine. 

According to several small studies, it does appear effective at inducing calmness and reducing anxiety:

BenefitsEvidence
1. Reduce anxiety.
2. Increase sense of calm.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12062586
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15272110
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22207903
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4245564/

Is Lemon Balm Safe?

Lemon balm is likely safe for most people. When taken by mouth, lemon balm can cause some side effects including increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and wheezing.

When applied to the skin, lemon balm may cause skin irritation and increased cold sore symptoms.

Special precautions should be taken for the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lemon balm during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
  • Diabetes. Lemon balm might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use lemon balm.
  • Surgery: Lemon balm might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. Stop using lemon balm at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
  • Thyroid disease: Don’t use lemon balm. There is a concern that lemon balm may change thyroid function, reduce thyroid hormone levels, and interfere with thyroid hormone-replacement therapy.
  • Possible Drug Interactions: Sedative Medications (CNS depressants). Lemon balm might cause sleepiness and drowsiness.

Reishi Mushroom

reishi mushroom supplement facts

Reishi, also known as ganoderma lucidum or lingzi mushroom, is frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine. Its popularity extends to Japanese and Korean medicine, and it has been making its way west.

Reishi has anti-oxidative/anti-stress effects and also has a therapeutic effect on insulin resistance, reduces the risk of prostate cancer, and can help treat a variety of conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.

On top of that, the lingzi mushroom is well known for its anti-cancer effects. It is able to activate natural killer cells, increasing their activity and the body’s ability to fight tumors, and reduces the chances of metastasis, which is when cancer spreads to another part of the body, in certain types of cancers.

BenefitsEvidence
1. Reduce anxiety and stress levels.
2. Improve subjective well being.
3. Reduce fatigue.
4. Slows development of certain types of cancer.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15857210
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22203880
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20518254

Is Reishi Safe?

Reishi mushroom may cause side effects including dryness of the mouth, throat, and nasal area along with itchiness and rash, stomach upset and diarrhea, dizziness and headache, nosebleed, and bloody stools.

Special precautions should be taken for the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking reishi mushroom if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
  • Bleeding disorder: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in some people with certain bleeding disorders.
  • Low blood pressure: Reishi mushroom might lower blood pressure. There is a concern that it might make low blood pressure worse. If your blood pressure is too low, it is best to avoid reishi mushroom.
  • A clotting disorder called thrombocytopenia: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in people with thrombocytopenia. If you have this condition, do not use reishi mushroom.
  • Surgery: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in some people if used before or during surgery. Stop using reishi mushroom at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Possible Drug Interactions

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs). Reishi mushroom might decrease blood sugar.
  • Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs. Reishi mushroom might decrease blood pressure in some people. Taking reishi mushroom along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs). High doses of reishi mushroom might slow blood clotting. Taking reishi mushroom along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

CBD

I felt compelled to give an honorable nod to CBD because everybody’s talking about it.

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a compound derived mainly from hemp plants (which are cousins of the marijuana plant–so it does not cause a “high” like THC found in marijuana).

With the passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, as long as CBD is extracted from hemp and grown by licensed farmers in accordance with state and federal regulations, it is now legal to purchase.

And according to the World Health Organization, it’s safe:

In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.

World Health Organization

Although research is preliminary, it appears CBD has some legit benefits, the strongest scientific evidence being for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications.

More recently, CBD is quickly becoming the treatment of choice for people who suffer from anxietyinsomnia, and chronic pain.

A study from the European Journal of Pain showed showed that CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.

More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims but its effects appear to be very promising.

The Bottom Line About Supplements

1. Do your homework. Make sure whatever supplement you’re thinking about taking has been studied for safety and efficacy. Examine.com and Pubmed are good sources.

2. Talk to your doctor before taking any new supplement. Especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.

3. Listen to your body. If a supplement makes you feel better, keep taking it. If it doesn’t, stop taking it.