Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A new supplement to ward off the UMass plague?

Dayquil is not the only option out there
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

The UMass plague has you in its grip and refuses to let go. Maybe it even loosens for a few moments—just long enough to trick you into thinking you beat it—only to return fiercer than before.

Most of us have experienced the first taste of a fever or cough that precipitates an onslaught of symptoms that will keep you away from class and even the usual weekend shenanigans. It’s difficult to find the motivation to work, getting up to go eat or make food is a struggle and being with friends is exhausting. All you want to do is lay in bed and Netflix because your skin feels like the surface of the sun, your throat a desert and your body debris in a freeway.

Well, there might be a new solution for you to try right here on campus.

Dr. Alan Inglis is a practitioner who, like many others, saw a recurring problem in many of his patients: the common cold and the flu. Many patients came to him skeptical of drugs, and being certified in both internal and functional medicine, Dr. Inglis attempts the more natural routes first. He designed a supplement line that he would recommend patients take in order to prevent the onslaught of cold and flu symptoms—which seemed to work very well. Eventually, one of his patients (Andrew Blechman, who is now his business partner) asked Dr. Inglis if these supplements could all be combined into one pill. The two went into business together, and so came the Stay Well and Get Well nutritional supplements by Dr. Schnuffie.

According to Dr. Inglis, both formulas consist of several vitamins and minerals designed to work in combination to give your immune system a boost to quickly rid of bacterial and viral threats. Vitamin A is included to support the immune system and specifically helps to produce mucus to flush out viruses and bacteria.

Vitamin D helps to balance the extra vitamin A (the two share a common cell receptor, one without the other can throw the body off-balance), and vitamin D is a pro-hormone that regulates the gene expression of DNA segments that produce immune system peptides intended to kill viruses. Combinations of vitamins A and D can be found naturally in cod liver oil, which was used as early as the 18th century to treat measles.

Other vitamins and minerals include vitamins C, E, K2 and zinc. According to Dr. Inglis, vitamins C and E helps to support the immune system and are integral to its function. K2 helps to balance some of the adverse effects of additional vitamins A and D in the body (excess calcium in circulating blood) by making sure calcium is properly stored in the bones rather than letting it be flushed out. Finally, zinc is a mineral cofactor that inhibits the reproduction of viruses within the body (copper is also included to balance some effects from zinc). More information and scientific studies are cited on the Dr. Schnuffie’s website for each individual vitamin and their benefits.

When I read about all these vitamins initially, my first concern was of toxicity. Yes, you can overdose on vitamins. But the literature on toxicity of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K2 and E) contains mixed results, but most studies agree that substantial amounts (over 10,000 units daily) must be taken over the course of several months to become toxic. Dr. Schnuffie’s stronger, Get Well formula contains 9,500 units and is made for you to take it over the course of seven days, not several months. Vitamins D and K2 also help to counteract the effect of excess vitamin A.

My other concern about this medicine was whether or not it has been proven effective. This seems to be a complicated topic: Dr. Schnuffie’s sells a nutritional supplement that is giving your body more of what it naturally takes in and produces already; it is not a drug that alters cellular activity. Because it is simply a nutritional supplement, it does not have to be subjected to randomized control trials like other drugs and prescriptions medications. Dr. Inglis did mention he would like to conduct a large randomized study to better look at the effectiveness of his supplement, but studies like that require a large amount of money and time they do not have yet. So far, testimonials of other professionals and series of case studies provide some backing to the effectiveness of the product.

Dr. Schnuffie’s has provided a high-potency dose of vitamins and minerals that may give your immune system a fighting chance to beat back the UMass plague before the real cascade of symptoms begins.

At $15 a bottle ($10 discounted for UMass students at the campus store) you could try to give your body a little boost through flu season. This multi-vitamin seems to incorporate well-researched components and has many testimonials backing its effectiveness. Unfortunately, there is nothing on all these nutrients in combination together and their effectiveness on cold/flu symptoms in a formal study.

Other similar products to Dr. Schnuffie’s Get Well and Stay Well formulas are Emergen-C and Airborne, vitamin C supplements advertised to help boost your immune system. Neither of these have been subjected to randomized trials either, and are only backed by testimonials (again, because they are only nutritional supplements and not drugs like Dayquil). These supplements offer mostly buffered vitamin C with only a few other additional immune-boosting minerals. Inglis claims that Dr. Schnuffie’s formula was better thought out in terms of balancing the effects of interacting vitamins and minerals and providing several key nutrients to immune function rather than primarily focusing on vitamin C.

It is difficult to say with certainty that this supplement will help you without a formal study conducted with the product itself. But it is safe to try and see if it works for you, especially for those who would prefer a remedy more natural than drugs and medications.

Nicholas Remillard can be reached at [email protected].

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