When COVID struck, everyone and their mother started promoting their secret immune-boosting cocktail of supplements. Why sell one thing when you can sell 10, right?
I’ve discussed my thoughts on immune-boosting in the past. On the blog, I spoke about how immune boosting is really a concept created by an industry with the main intent of selling you stuff that you probably don’t need. On the podcast, I did the same, and even spoke about inflammation recently and how that ties in to this immune-boosting concept.
The Best Immune Booster
The best thing we can do for our immune system is to Climb the Wellness Pyramid.
Nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, and the environment will play a dramatically greater role in helping our immune system stay optimized.
And that’s the key part to understanding all of this: our immune systems are darn near perfect already, but they can get weaker if we don’t make healthy lifestyle choices.
The industry tells us a fib: you’ll be BETTER if you take this ingredient. The truth is you’re probably fine, and in many cases using a specific supplement will just ensure you won’t be as bad as you could be. See our discussion on Vitamin D and COVID, calcium, and even Vitamin K for this concept in action.
Not to say that Vitamin C, zinc, or whatever don’t have a role in our immune system, of course. I’m just saying that the person who eats a Hershey bar and drinks Pepsi all day as their sole source of nutrition probably should put down the immune boosters and instead clean up their diet.
Medicinal Mushrooms Will Support Your Immune System
I’m a big fan of real medicinal mushrooms. Unfortunately, as I’ve pointed out numerous times, mushroom quality is a REAL problem. We can talk all day about how great mushrooms are for your immune health, but if the product you take is devoid of those active components, there’s a real problem.
Mushrooms contain a number of immune-supporting compounds. The main one is beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are special sugar chains that do, in fact, improve the function of immune cells. They also have been connected to antiviral benefits, and not the nonsense ones many herbs claim to have. Real antiviral benefits, backed up by science.
5 Defenders: My First Choice for Immune Support
Ever since I had Skye Chilton on my podcast, I’ve been a huge fan of Real Mushrooms and his dad’s company, NAMMEX.
Skye is for mushrooms what I’m trying to be for supplements at large.
5 Defenders is a concentrate of hot water extracts of five medicinal mushrooms:
I’m including a chart I made for attendees of my medicinal mushrooms webinar so you can see what all the main medicinal mushrooms are known for. This is the Dr. Neal version, meaning I only included the health claims that are backed by any real science:
The 5 Defenders formulation has over 20% beta-glucan content and less than 5% other starches—unlike almost all of its competitors.
The selection of those mushrooms, known for their immune health benefits, and the high beta-glucan count makes this my first choice for daily immune support.
Who Should (and Shouldn’t) Use 5 Defenders?
I recommend 5 Defenders for anyone who wants immune-boosting supplements.
In fact, I believe you can save money and exposure to unnecessary or potentially harmful supplements by stopping most other products marketed for immune health and use 5 Defenders alone.
This is for all adults (over 18)—except people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or some people undergoing certain medical treatments where the drugs or procedures would interact with mushrooms. That list is a bit wonky; basically if you’re undergoing chemo or are on extensive medications, check with your doc first.
What You Can Expect Taking 5 Defenders
The immune-supporting benefits of beta-glucans and medicinal mushrooms are at the cellular level. These products do improve the activity of immune cells, but they really only do that if you’re making those healthy choices we’ve already discussed.
When we look at immune benefits, we have to go beyond the claims of “boosting the immune system” and instead look at actual outcomes.
When using any immune-boosting product, you should monitor (and be honest about) the following measures:
- Do you get more or fewer colds?
- If you get sick, is it quick or is it drawn out and intense?
- Do you generally feel less run down?
In honesty, I find those measures get real mucky. Most people who use immune-supporting products tend to be healthier and expose themselves less to little Petri dishes children. My best cold-prevention strategy is to use zinc lozenges.
It’s also important to note that no gosh darn supplement will help with COVID, except maybe Vitamin D.
If you use 5 Defenders and make healthy choices, at worst you will feel no real change, and that’s great. Many people report to me an overall improvement in energy and we get the anecdote or two about not catching colds.
The 5 Defenders Bottom Line
This formulation of five medicinal mushroom extract concentrates is my go-to for those seeking immune-boosting supplements.
Each ingredient has real data showing improvement in immune system function that translates to real patient outcomes.
This cannot be taken in a vacuum; we must make healthy lifestyle choices to ensure our immune system is working well daily.
Instead of wasting money on products that have no science, aren’t real mushrooms, or don’t meet our Supplement Quality Standard, I recommend people try 5 Defenders and use it daily.
It’s the only immune-supporting product I can sell that allows me to sleep at night because of the science AND the integrity of the brand.
Just trying to keep it real…
Neal Smoller, PharmD
Owner, Pharmacist, Big Mouth