Botanicals Show Natural Immune Support Potential

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

Olive leaf, aged black garlic bridge science and traditional medical for proactive immunity. Contributed by to Julia Diaz, Head of Marketing at Pharmactive.

One-third of global consumers admit their concerns about immune health have increased in 2020 over 2019, according to new data by Innova Markets Insights. The market researcher also reports that 54 percent of consumers say that, due to COVID-19, they have spent time educating themselves on ingredients and procedures that can boost their immune health.

In the current pandemic era, immune health is the leading health concern amongst consumers worldwide and who increasingly are taking a more proactive approach to the pursuit of personal wellbeing. Innova Markets Insights data reveal that this trend is reflected in the food and natural supplement product focuses which are increasingly incorporating classic immune-boosting ingredients, such elderberry, blueberry, chicory root, and vitamins.

The botanical world provides a bounty of natural ingredients believed to help naturally support the immune system. They contain chemical compounds shown by research to help weather cold and flu onslaughts more swiftly and effectively.


Olive Leaf

Olive leaf (Olea europaea) is gaining esteem for its beneficial role in immunity. Its earliest recognition as a compelling culinary and medicinal appears in the Bible: “The fruit will be for food and the leaf for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:12). It has been used as a natural remedy throughout Mediterranean culture. According to anecdotal data, olive leaf was historically regarded to be a popular remedy for reducing fever, and commonly used to treat inflammation, common cold, influenza, shingles, and lower intestinal disorders.

Over the last century olive leaf has been the subject of extensive scientific investigation exploring the botanical’s antioxidant, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulating properties. Olive leaf possesses a multi-target chemical mechanism of action, attributed to a prime bioactive component called oleuropein, that helps arrest the virus lifecycle.

Pharmactive’s Isenolic brand olive leaf extract is locally sourced from olive trees grown in Mediterranean groves and is standardised by HPLC to ≥4 percent elenolic acid. Elenolic acid is a derivative of oleuropein known for its potential to help protect against viral seasonal infections and promote immune health. This bioactive compound is a key secondary metabolite used by olive trees to naturally fight phytopathogens,” explains Alberto Espinel, PhD, head of R&D for Pharmactive. “It is the main bioactive constituent that contributes to the antimicrobial and antiviral functions of olive leaves and has been shown in studies dating back decades to specifically target influenza A and B types, as well as para-influenza 1,2,3*. It directly penetrates the cells, blocking the entry of specific viruses*, and halting replication by neutralising the reverse transcriptase and protease production central to the infectious nature of retroviruses.

An in vitro study by Pharmactive focused on the compound’s capabilities in preventing and reducing symptoms of viral and microbial infections, including shortening the duration of colds. Results demonstrated Isenolic’s potent inhibition effect on neuraminidase activity. Neuraminidase is a key enzyme present in the flu virus that acts to disassemble the virus from the host-cell membrane, promoting its liberation to infect new cells*.


Aged Black Garlic—Beyond Culinary

Aged black garlic (ABG) is another ancient ingredient with compounds that have been found to influence immunity. It has seen a recent revival of interest, especially amongst chefs and nutritionists, for both its culinary and health attributes. The cloves begin their journey as conventional heads of garlic that undergo fermentation under controlled temperatures and relative humidity for approximately one month. This unique ageing process creates a deep black hue as well as a soft, jelly-like texture and caramel-like flavour.

The fermentation process also serves to potentiate garlic’s bioactive complex of antioxidant compounds, including polyphenols, melanoidin, and flavonoids, especially S-allylcysteine (SAC). While SAC is widely touted for its cardioprotective benefits, as supported by clinical trials, new research also highlights its potential as a possible immune-support agent. A 2018 study found that ABG’s plentiful phenol and flavonoid SAC content could exert significant radical scavenging activity as well as antimicrobial activity against pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enteritidis, Bacillus cereus, and Listeria*.

Pharmactive’s ABG10+ formulation is produced via a proprietary optimised aging process through a naturally occurring chemical reaction called “autocatalysis”. This technique, performed under rigorous temperature and humidity controls, naturally increases garlic’s potent composition of SAC, polyphenols, and melanoidins—macromolecules responsible for ABG’s dark colour.

ABG also has been clinically found to increase oral immunoglobulin antibodies (IgA) in humans. These antibodies form a critical part of the immune system that serve to resist bacteria, viruses, and toxins. IgA is found in high concentrations in the mucous membranes of the body, especially in the respiratory and digestive tract, as well as in saliva and tears*.

The complex human immune system has three phases. It mostly lives in surveillance mode, with cells migrating through the blood and lymph systems to detect pathogens in the body. When a potential pathogen is discovered, the immune system can often eliminate it without symptoms, Significant increase in pathogens will drive the system goes into response mode which involves the proliferation and activation of immune cells. Once the immune system has eliminated the pathogen, it then returns to surveillance mode as its resolves the inflammation.

A recent in vitro study revealed that ABG extracts helped increase response in cellular immunity when compared to fresh garlic. In the study, B- and T-lymphocytes were isolated from healthy volunteers and cultured in the presence of aged black garlic extracts and fresh garlic extracts. The samples exposed to aged black garlic showed higher cell proliferation as well as increased production of tumour necrosis factor (TNF-α) and nitric oxide, pointing to the enhanced immunostimulatory activity of this bioactive food*.

Fructo-oligosaccharide and Na-fructosyl arginine are other important aged garlic compounds, possessing structures resembling pathogen-associated molecular patterns. This indicates a potential to interact with immune cells. ABG consumption has been shown to reduce cold and flu severity via an ability to increase γδ-T lymphocytes and Natural Killer (NK) cells. In one placebo-controlled study, participants who consumed ABG extract for 45 days, the γδ-T and NK cells nearly doubled in number, and NK cells almost tripled their proliferation capacity compared to pre-consumption values. This not only indicates enhanced immune function but also a decrease in accompanying inflammation*.

“Aged black garlic has been enjoyed for centuries as a culinary delicacy,” expounds Espinel. “More recently, scientific exploration, including a Pharmactive-run study, have supported its potent antioxidant activity against oxidative stress and inflammation*. The effect also been expressed in cases of bacterial- and viral-induced release of detrimental pro-oxidant inflammatory cytokines. ABG has even demonstrated an ability to relieve allergic reactions in animal models as well as improve negative responses of the immune systems*.”


*References available upon request


Check these articles out:

Mintel’s Latest Insight Report: A Year Of Innovation In Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements

Study Shows Tomato And Rosemary Alongside Lutein Protect Eyes

Anlit Boosts Immune With Chewable Nutraceutical Gummies

Dairy Ingredients For Better Health

Nutrition Options For The Immune System

Vitamin D Can Prevent Cancer

Immune Support Is Most Sought Health Goal

Harnessing The Power Of Carotenoids For Immunity