Echinacea is a coneflower native to the Western Hemisphere. Historically, Native American Plains Indians and European migrants used Echinacea for numerous conditions. Like many herbs, Echinacea fell out of favor with the advent of modern antibiotics, particularly in the US. However, in Europe its use has continued to the present, where 1.3 million prescriptions for Echinacea are written annually in Germany alone.
Echinacea has made a comeback over the past several decades in the US as an immune system support supplement. It is thought that Echinacea supports the immune system’s ability to clear infections by promoting T-cell activity, the cell type critical to cell-mediated immunity. Echinacea also stimulates interferon molecules in the immune system that are characterized by their antiviral properties.
The best data on Echinacea use has been in species Echinacea purpurea and supports its use within the first 48 hours. Echinacea is optimally used for 5-7 days and no longer than 2 weeks.
Zinc is an essential trace metal with a wide range of critical functions in the human body. These include processes fundamental to life such as metabolism, gene expression, and enzyme function. As such, zinc is involved in virtually every aspect of our immune system’s function. The US RDA is 8 mg daily for women and 11 mg daily for men.
The preponderance of data on the subject of zinc supplementation is positive and the use of zinc in moderately higher doses for short periods of time is generally safe and well tolerated. The most positive data on the subject suggests that zinc supplementation, especially in the form of zinc acetate (zinc + acetic acid, which is commonly found in vinegar), initiated within the first 24 hours can decrease the duration and reduce the severity of illness.
Dosage in supportive studies has ranged from 50-100 mg daily, generally over a 5-day period. Zinc supplementation in otherwise non-zinc deficient patients is generally not recommended for greater than 5 days.
The use of vitamin C was initially popularized in the 1970′s. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin critical to a wide range of metabolic reactions in the body, including the formation of collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels, as well as the absorption of iron. Vitamin C is also found in high concentrations in cells of the immune system and is consumed during infections. It is thought that vitamin C is involved in the modulation of several immune cells that are involved in the clearance of viruses and bacteria as well as the propagation of cytokines that support the mounting of immune responses to infections.
Consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables a day can provide more than 200 mg of vitamin C. The US RDA is 75 mg daily for women and 90 mg daily for men. Smokers require an additional 35 mg daily. Taking excessive amounts of vitamin C as recommended by some popular cold and flu products has been known to cause diarrhea. Others have questioned excess vitamin C intake's role in kidney stones.
The best data in vitamin C’s use comes from the Cochrane Collaboration. The team reviewed five trials involving individuals undergoing heavy short-term physical stress (marathon runners, Swiss children in a skiing camp, Canadian soldiers during a winter exercise) and found that vitamin C halved the incidence of illness. Regular vitamin C supplementation further reduced the duration of illness in adults by 8% and in children by 18%.
Many vitamin and supplement products advertise themselves as better or more effective because they contain large amounts of a given substance or more substances than others. The reality is that excess intake of vitamins can lead to a condition called hypervitaminosis.
Hypervitaminosis floods the body’s normal metabolic regulation with excessive amounts of vitamins and can lead to undesirable toxicities and end organ damage.
The EZC Pak formulation steers clear of this by using the best available scientific evidence while also keeping in mind US RDA guidelines to create the optimal immune system support pack formulation.