20 of the Best Vitamins for Allergies, Asthma, and Modulating the Immune System

vitamins that reduce alleriges, asthma, and modulate the immune system





I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Allergies and Asthma seem IMPOSSIBLE to heal, change, or improve.

Or are they?

Well it turns out that you can dramatically decrease your allergy and asthma symptoms, along with IgE levels, by taking THE RIGHT VITAMINS.

And in today’s post, I’m going to show you the top 20 vitamins found to reduce allergies and asthma in SCIENTIFIC STUDIES.

My Quest For the Best Vitamins for Asthma and Allergies

In my research for supplements, I looked for a couple things that are associated with reducing Th2 skewing, aka asthma and allergies.  I searched out vitamins and supplements that were shown to reduce IgE, increase IFN-y, increase IL-12, increase NK cell activity (natural killer cells), and/or reduce IL-10 (IL-10 tends to be associated with the Th2 arm of the immune system).  And just a brief note, if you don’t already know this, Th1 is humoral immunity known to “fight viruses and other intracellular pathogens, eliminate cancerous cells, and stimulate delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin reactions”  while Th2 is adaptive immunity via production of antibodies.  Being skewed too heavily in either direction can result in diseases.  Allergic problems and asthma tend to be invoked by an immune system that is Th2 skewed.

I spent several months laboring over this list, but here are supplements that have been found to reduce allergies – along with some supplements you’ll want to avoid because they increase allergies.

1. Aged Black Garlic Extracts

It has been found to Increase Interferon Gamma (IFN-y).  In a mouse model it reduced IgE associated skin inflammation.

Source Articles:

Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds.

The Antioxidant Mechanisms Underlying the Aged Garlic Extract- and S-Allylcysteine-Induced Protection

Buy Aged Black Garlic, Aged Garlic with Mushroom Extracts

2. Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC)

This is a propreitary extract produced from specially cultivated and hybridized mushrooms.  It has been found to skew towards Th17, enhance NK cells, increase IL-6 and IFN-γ.

Source Articles:

Active Hexose Correlated Compound promotes T helper (Th) 17 and 1 cell responses via inducing IL-1β production from monocytes in humans

Buy Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC)

3.  Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Alpha Lipoic Acid is becoming a sung hero in the world of anti-oxidants.  It has been found to chelate heavy metals, restore blood glutathione levels, act as a free radical scavenger…  The key here to me is that it can enhance blood glutathione levels.  Additionally, in mouse model of asthma it was found to lower lung hyper responsiveness, eosinophils, and IgE.

Source Articles:

Alpha-lipoic acid as a dietary supplement: Molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential

Alpha-Lipoic acid inhibits airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness in a mouse model of asthma”
Buy Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

4.  Apigenin

Apigenin is flavone found in many fruits and vegetables.  The highest sources include parsley, celery, celeriac and chamomile.  It was found to reduce IgE, suppress Th2 cytokines.

Source Articles:

Dietary apigenin suppresses IgE and inflammatory cytokines production in C57BL/6N mice

Buy Apigenin

5.  D-pinitol

According to Wikipedia, pinitol is a cyclitol, a cyclic polyol. It is a known anti-diabetic agent isolated from Sutherlandia frutescens leaves.[1][2] Gall plant tannins can be differentiated by their content of pinitol.[3] It was first identified in the sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana).  It’s also apparently in leafy greens – and a component of inositol.   In one mouse model study d-pinitol inhibited allergic asthma in sensitized mice.   In another it impaired Th1 polarization.

Source Articles:

d-pinitol regulates Th1/Th2 balance via suppressing Th2 immune response in ovalbumin-induced asthma”

D-pinitol inhibits Th1 polarization via the suppression of dendritic cells

Buy D-pinitol

6.  Drumming

Obviously this isn’t a supplement.  I contacted the person associated with this study about further details about the type of drumming that was done.  He was unavailable for further questions.  There was apparently an increase in NK cell activity post drumming.

Source Articles:

Composite Effects of Group Drumming Music Therapy on Modulation of Neuroendocrine-Immune Parameters in Normal Subjects.

7.  Magnesium

Magnesium is sometimes delivered intravenously in the hospital for acute asthma attacks.  It can “can induce bronchial smooth muscle relaxation…”  I’ve heard from others who suffer from asthma, as well as read, that oral supplementation can also help reduce asthma symptoms as well as the amounts of emergency meds needed.   Here is study done in children with asthma and oral magnesium supplementation.  You’d need to purchase the study to see dosages, but another study that I read (which of course I cannot find now) had dosages of 340mg (given 2x day at 170 mg) for adults.  What they found in the group of children was that the magnesium acted as an antioxidant and increase glutathione levels.  Whether or not magnesium will help with allergic conditions is unclear to me.  Although it has been found to decrease histamine levels, and would therefore be a valid supplement to experiment with.

Source Articles:

“Effects of magnesium supplementation on the glutathione redox system in atopic asthmatic children

Buy magnesium

8.  Magnolia Flower and Gypsum Combination (Shin’iseihaito)

This is a mouse model.  As several people have been quick to remind me, what works in mice doesn’t necessarily work in humans.  At any rate they found that this Kampo (Japanese) or TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) herbal extract was able to reduce the eosinophil, serum IgE and interleukin (IL)-4 levels, while increased the interferon (IFN)-γ levels in allergic mice.

Source Articles:

Effect of Shin’iseihaito on murine allergic reaction induced by nasal sensitization.

As far as buying this herbal remedy goes, I would recommend going to a reputable herbalist.  You can find different sources on the internet, but for this one I personally would like to meet and see the person making/recommending this combination.  There aren’t any reputable supplement companies that I can find that make this.

9.  Melatonin

Melatonin is acts as an antioxidant,  immune stimulant and sleep regulator.  As a supplement, it’s a hormone that is either synthesized in a lab or derived from pig and cow brains (I of course steer clear of the later version).  Melatonin is a mixed bag, so it demands some research and experimentation.  Melatonin has been found in atopic dermatitis and allergic asthma to be associated with reduced IgE and IL-4.  However, there was a study that found elevated blood melatonin levels associated with worsening nocturnal symptoms in people with asthma.

So if asthma is part of the package, it seems to make sense to tread slowly with melatonin.

Source articles:

Melatonin and Atopy: Role in Atopic Dermatitis and Asthma

Elevated serum melatonin is associated with the nocturnal worsening of asthma

Buy Melatonin (synthesized in lab – not animal brain derived).

10.  Plant sterols, stanols, and sterolins

Naturally occurring substances in and produced by plants.  Found in fuits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.  However the amounts you’d get when you consume plants is lower than if you take supplements containing sterols, stanols, and sterolins.  Plant sterols, stanols, and sterolins are known to lower cholesterol and modulate the immune system.

One study in particular tracked asthma sufferers and vaccine titres vs a control group.  Both groups consumed a soy based yogurt.  The study group had added plant sterols, while the control group ate the yogurt without added sterols.  And while the differences between the groups was not notable, the study group during the study time experienced decreased IgE and IL-13 indicating a shift from Th2 type immunity to Th1.

Interesting bonus on this supplement is that it supposedly has been found to increase hair health.

Source articles:

This articles is a review that was done by scientists working for Thorne supplements.  However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not valid.

Dietary plant stanol ester consumption improves immune function in asthma patients: results of a randomized, double-blind clinical trial.

Beneficial Effects of Sitostanol on the Attenuated Immune Function in Asthma Patients: Results of an In Vitro Approach

All about Plant Sterols – Review article – Plant sterols: factors affecting their efficacy and safety as functional food ingredients

Buy Plant Sterol and Sterolin Supplement 
Buy Beta-sitosterol


11.  Probiotic: HKLP-137 (Heat Killed Lactobacillus Plantarum 137) aka Immuno-LP 20

You’ll find lots of studies on pubmed.org citing it’s ability to stimulate Th1 type immunity in healthy subjects and mice via increased IFN-y and IL-12.  We tried this supplement for awhile, I can’t say that it worked for us.  We were, however, trying a bunch of stuff at once so it’s hard to tell.  It’s also difficult to determine if we were taking a high enough dose.  The other thing is that most of the studies done on HKLP-137 seem to be on non-atopic individuals and mice.

Reading these articles makes me want to give this supplement a try again.

Source Articles:

Daily intake of heat-killed Lactobacillus plantarum L-137 enhances type I interferon production in healthy humans and pigs

Daily intake of heat-killed Lactobacillus plantarum L-137 augments acquired immunity in healthy adults

Buy Immuno-LP 20

12.  Probiotic: Lactobacillus Casei Shirota (in the states only found in Yakult)

Yakult is a dairy drink that is made from powdered milk and sugar.  It’s available in stores around the US.  Apparently, in Japan you can just buy the bacteria as a probiotic without the dairy and sugar that accompany the drink.  At any rate, it has been found in an HIV infected population to lower IL-10, IL-12, IgE but raise IL-4.

Source Articles:

Effect of Probiotic Supplement on Cytokine Levels in HIV-Infected Individuals: A Preliminary Study.

13.  Probiotic: Bifidobacterium Lactis HN019

I am somewhat on the fence on probiotics.  I think that they, of all supplements demand massive organized experimentation.  What do I mean by that?  Well firstly, probiotics are extremely specific.  If you read about a probiotic lactobacillus acidophilus 123 and desire similar effects, you must find that exact strain down to the 123.  Also, for those suffering allergies and asthma, the probiotics could have a different effect than in non-allergic individuals AND heat killed probiotics may be more effective than live (again from memory of a study that I now cannot find).  However, we still use probiotics.  Although, we are not as organized as I would like to be.  Ideally, we’d use single strains and track blood before and after.  We don’t.  So our approach is very hodge podge.

Also, I personally tend to steer clear of most bifidobacteria probiotics.  From what I’ve read and retained, it seems that bifidobacteria are usually associated with increasing IL-10 levels.  IL-10, while not totally Th2 skewing, is nonetheless a Th2 cytokine.  However, this Bifidobacterium Lactis HN019 is associated with increasing NK (natural killer) cell activity.  So, it’s on my list.  And, we’ve taken these strains.  I can’t say that we saw an improvement, we did not do blood tests, but we also didn’t see a worsening of any symptoms.  Also, you cannot find either this strain or the L. Rhamnosus HN001 as single strains.  Therefore, you can’t really see the effect of the single strain.

Source Articles:

Enhancement of immunity in the elderly by dietary supplementation with the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis HN019

Buy B. Lactis HN019 mixed with L. Rhamnosus HN001

14.  Probiotic: Lactobacillus Rhamnosus HN001

Increased NK cell activity in non-allergic individuals.

Source Articles:

Systemic Immunity-Enhancing Effects in Healthy Subjects Following Dietary Consumption of the Lactic Acid Bacterium Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 

Buy B. Lactis HN019 mixed with L. Rhamnosus HN001

15.  Rice Bran Exo-biopolymer, RBEP – known to contain arabinoxylan

In vivo study in humans, found to raise IFN-y levels.  Interestingly, it did not effect any other cytokine levels.  I’ve included “known to contain arabinoxylan” because I could not find this exact product.  I’ve found other products that claim to activate NK-cell activity.

Source Articles:

Dietary supplementation with rice bran fermented with Lentinus edodes increases interferon-γ activity without causing adverse effects: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study.

Buy Enzymatically Modified Rice Bran
Buy Rice Bran Arabinoxylan Compound  (We’ve taken this one.  Again, we did not take blood work.  So it’s hard to tell if it had an effect.  We are considering returning to this supplement.)

16.  Selenium

Selenium is a potent anti-oxidant.  It’s been found to enhance the Th1 side of the immune system:  with increased viral immunity, NK activity and IFN-y.   We regularly take it along with other trace minerals.

Source Articles:

The influence of selenium on immune responses

Selenium and asthma

Buy Selenium
Buy the Selenium we take in trace minerals

17.  Sodium Ascorbate (a form of Vitamin C)

I have written about vitamin C, especially in sodium ascorbate form, several times.  It is a tent pole supplement in our routines.  This study which followed three siblings over two years is the original study that turned me onto vitamin C.  The study tracked a reduction in IgE using sodium ascorbate at 1000mg daily for two years.  In our experience, we’ve found a similar IgE reducing effect.  In fact, of all the supplements we’ve tried, sodium ascorbate made a huge and obvious impact that preceded confirmation via blood test.  Basically my son’s asthma and seasonal allergy symptoms pretty much disappeared.

We stopped using it daily for several months.  When we returned to vitamin C, we were not using sodium ascorbate because he hates the taste and texture.  We have not had as amazing results using ascorbic acid.  We do get some effect, but nothing as drastic as the 30% drop in IgE and essentially no asthma and seasonal allergy symptoms.

Also, a second issue with the sodium ascorbate that we were taking, I’m not in love with the nano-particle facet of it.  I feel that that is something that has not been researched enough.  So while we took it for about two years, we now take it much less.

Source Article:

Assessment of oral ascorbate in three children with chronic granulomatous disease and defective neutrophil motility over a 2-year period.

Buy Sodium Ascorbate as lypo-spheric

Read about our experience using vitamin C for asthma and allergies.  Currently, we’re not using sodium ascorbate, but are in the process of trying yet another vitamin C.  It’s a fine balance between efficacy and taste/texture.

18. Sulforaphane

Sulforaphane is “a compound within the isothiocyanate group of organosulfur compounds. It is obtained from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cabbages. It is produced when the enzyme myrosinase transforms glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate, into sulforaphane upon damage to the plant (such as from chewing), which allows the two compounds to mix and react. ” Wikipedia

It’s been found that the highest levels of sulforaphane can be obtained from 3 day old broccoli sprouts.  You can either buy sulphoraphane as a broccoli sprout extract supplement or grow your own sprouts.  The key with sulphoraphane is that it’s created when glucoraphanin and myrosinase come together, as in chewing.  So I prefer to eat the sprouts myself, because I doubt supplement efficacy for this compound for some reason.  Although, keep in mind they are very strong tasting.

Source Article:

Sulforaphane inhibits the Th2 immune response in ovalbumin-induced asthma.

Buy broccoli sprout extract
Buy seeds to sprout

19.  Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most widely discussed vitamins.  Most recently a study found that it reduces asthma attack severity.  But I have a hard time completely getting on the Vitamin D bandwagon.  It’s not to say that it’s not valuable.  Clearly it is, however there appears to be a sweet spot for Vitamin D.  Levels above and below a certain threshold are linked to elevating IgE, while the sweet spot is in the middle.  Another study found,  that serum vitamin D was positively associated with logarithmic transformed total IgE with base of 10 (LogTIgE) (coefficient (B), 0.011; 95% confidence interval, 0.001-0.021).

I think the best approach with Vitamin D is to do a blood test and see the level.  Then if you supplement track symptoms, and/or retest IgE levels along with Vitamin D level.

20.  Whey

Whey supplementation is known to increase glutathione.  What interests me the most though is the study that found that a month long whey supplementation protocol was able to reduce total IgE levels by 30%.  For anyone who tracks IgE levels for allergies, you realize how amazing this is.  We managed to reduce IgE levels by 30% over several months with daily sodium ascorbate – but that was several months vs one month.

Source Articles:

Effect of whey protein to modulate immune response in children with atopic asthma.

Oral supplementation with whey proteins increases plasma glutathione levels of HIV-infected patients.

Buy the whey from the study (Immunocal)

Further reading for the interested

Proinflammatory cytokines (IL-17, IL-6, IL-18 and IL-12) and Th cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10 and IL-13) in patients with allergic asthma

This s a great article that details the different cytokines and allergic asthma.  This article informed my search for supplements:  supplements that increase IL-12, IFN-y, NK cell activity… vs supplements that increase cytokines associated with skewing Th2 immunity via things like IL-10.

IgE Versus IgG4 Production Can Be Differentially Regulated by IL-10

IL-10, a Th2 associated cytokine is a bit more complicated than simply being a Th2 cytokine and therefore something that allergic individuals want to avoid.   While it can illicit differentiation between either IgE or IgG 4, that switch is timing based.  This read if for the truly nerdy – and it’s a discussion of in vitro studies as opposed to in vivo.

Amazing free 23 page pdf for those who are truly on a quest to hack their bodies and make positive change.
I hope this list is helpful.  Please comment below with any additions or experiences experimenting with the above mentioned or others that should be added.
Thank you for reading.

Also please note that I do use affiliate links in this post and throughout the site.  However, I only recommend supplements we’ve used and researched.

 

Summary
20 of the Best Vitamins for Allergies, Asthma, and Modulate the Immune System
Article Name
20 of the Best Vitamins for Allergies, Asthma, and Modulate the Immune System
Description
20 scientifically researched vitamins that are found to reduce asthma and allergies by reducing IgE levles and modulating the immune system. These vitamins stimulate the Th1 arm of the immune system.
Denise
Healing Hacker
Healing Hacker
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6 Comments

  1. Thanks for the update Denise! Can you go over what herbs you guys have had successful results with (both to reduce IgE and to reduce clinical symptoms)?

    I would critique this list a bit. I think turmeric, which technically a Th2 switcher, is the main herb to use to control atopy. It is currently our treatment backbone and we have been able to control IgE levels while being on it. Clinical symptoms have been good as well (our main metric).

    Instead of whey, I would recommend colostrum. Whey caused many of us severe coughing fits for days each time we used it.

    Also, why heat killed plantarum over living plantarum? Is the concern the ADHD symptoms associated with plantarum? He assume we did see those symptoms. We use a mix of probiotics now, with no specific emphasis on any strain. Pickles, yogurt too.

    Here is our current protocol for our 8 year old:

    Morning: 1 probiotic pearl (high adult dose), 1 turmeric pill, 3 multivitamin pills, iron pill, 3 colostrum pills, 1 vitamin D gel cap, 1 Clear Lungs pill (which is chinese herbs)

    Evening: All the same, except no probiotic pill.

    We also try to feed many foods with similar allergens (such as beans and seeds to mimic nuts–and shellfish to mimic dustmites).

    Our IgE reduction has maintained (about 2/3 reduction since our first IgE test) and have been going down slightly over time. We test every 6 months now, generally just for the total IgE count plus eosiniphils and basophils.

    Asthma is not as much an issue as before, but we are certainly avoiding dustmite filled areas strictly. Sneezing and coughing result from exposures, leading to our use of classic ashtma inhalers every several weeks.

    On the FA front, we gave our son a small dose of the main nuts we have been concerned about and there appeared to be no reaction at all. If we proceed further with oral tests, we will buy sprouted nuts and boil them for 3 hours before retesting. In several months, we may get this done and update you.

    Cheers.

    1. Hi Shylock,

      It’s great to hear from you! It sounds like you guys are having some amazing success – giving small does of nuts. Are you sure your son was allergic? Or maybe he’s outgrown on your protocols – which is amazing! Congrats.

      Our biggest success was on the lypo-c. We don’t take that anymore for 2 reasons: my son hates the taste/texture and so pretty much refuses to drink AND I’m not completely in love with nano particles. Nano-particles are a double edge sword potentially. We have not been on herbs in many years. And when we were, compliance became an issue along with the fact that we did not take them long enough – so we cannot speak about any particular herbs because we did not give them a good college try.

      The heat killed l plantarum is not about ADHD symptoms – it really comes down to the fact that probiotics can go either way in a body. And so when we’ve done probiotics, I’ve tried to get the exact strains that I’ve read about. Which if you’ve tried that, you understand how nearly impossible that is. So the heat killed was simply that I read about that strain and could get it. However, and don’t hold me to this, but my understanding is that heat killed bacteria is about the cellular structure and elements of the bacteria presenting themselves to the immune system vs the living organism. And I read somewhere, cannot find that now, that for allergic individuals there may be a better effect skewing Th1 if the probiotic is heat killed. I can’t verify that, but that’s what I recall.

      Our current protocol:
      trace minerals (with zinc and selenium), digestive enzymes (pancreatin based with food), multi-vitamin (1 day), 1 kyolic garlic cap, we are switching up our vitamin C, vitamin D sporadically. We were on the BRM 4 in the summer. We’re starting that again – 1x a day. I’m very interested in the plant sterols – so exploring adding those to our protocol. As am I interested in the melatonin. We eat fermented foods sometimes and drink kombucha. One thing that recently I think has made a difference is drinking bread kvass. My son has had a patch of scaly skin on his knee for years – and it’s just finally disappeared since drinking the kvass. The doc said eczema – we never put anything on it because I liked seeing something that to me indicated if we’re having an effect systemically. It’s finally gone, so I think things are shifting. However, we’ll know better after a blood draw.

      Additionally, we’ve been on and off milk products. About a year ago, we escalated from baked milk to full on yogurt and cheese. After a couple months like this, a blood draw showed elevated eosinophils. So we went cold turkey off dairy. And after some months eosinophils went back down. We went back on dairy and are actually due for blood draw in the next couple months to see if it’s effected the eosinophils.

      I would say that we’ve not been as successful with the IgE – but ours is near 2000 6 months ago.

      I hear you on the whey. We have not tried it. They whey, like the vitamin C, increases glutathione. I’ve often thought about colostrum. What colostrum are you using?

      I remember the clear lungs – You mentioned before. The Ridgecrest brand correct?
      Which Pearls are you taking? How did you land on that probiotic?
      We go on and off – culturelle and then soil based probiotics. But again – we are not religiously consistent on them. I give things a month or two and if I don’t see a shift in symptoms, we drop it. Sometimes we come back to things because I think maybe dosage was too low – but for the most part we move on.

      Interesting on the tumeric. What dosage? Brand? We tried tumeric for a bit – and can’t say we saw much of any effect. Our last draw was the 2nd highest we’ve had. However, we have been very sloppy in our protocols – not testing blood enough and not firmly sticking to any one thing. Compliance is an issue for us – our lives have been very chaotic and I have to chase him around in the morning and night to get him to take the supps. If I’m not on him, he doesn’t take them. So compliance has to do with me just not mustering enough energy to police.

      At any rate, thanks for the great insights. You’ve definitely added a lot.

      Best,
      Denise

      1. Interesting points. It sounds like kvass is of potential interest based on the great clinical results you guys got on it. We will look into it. Excema has popped up a bit recently for us.

        As for the brands, we just use whatever has the highest Amazon reviews. We change brands often. Ridgecrest sounds right for the Clear Lungs.

        As for the probiotics, I don’t have the brand, but it’s whatever pearls are highest rated on Amazon. We will probably change brands often. We aim for soil probiotics along with classic ones. We no longer desire a focus on any strain, but we do want to make sure the probiotic has rhamnosus.

        Yes, we were excited about the oral challenge. However, as you said, eosinophils may rise (we have not blood tested since our oral challenge which was last week). TBH, aside from basically pinning our hopes on turmeric preventing anaphylaxis, our real treatment plan is to give small portions of similar (or boiled) proteins. Like Dr. Miller.

        Oh, I forgot to mention. Nancy ate nuts and fed our son her breastmilk over a period of 3 months. recently Optimistically, that would be why there was no reaction to the small amount of nuts, but dustmites are still an issue. This may be another Dr. Miller like treatment.

        1. Question – you mention an oral challenge – was this a challenge done in the hospital? Or did you guys do it yourselves? It sounds like you did it yourselves. But I just want to make sure I understand correctly.

          Best,
          Denise

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