Healthy Skeptics Newsletter for October 2022
Stephen Cherniske, MS
About the author: Stephen Cherniske taught Clinical Nutrition at two Southern California universities and directed the nation’s first FDA-licensed clinical laboratory specializing in nutrition and immunology.
Table of Contents
I. Pandemic News:
A. Four Stages of Infection protocol
B. Stephen’s paper on DHEA and Covid
C. Confirming research in Frontiers in Endocrinology
II. Boosting Mucosal Immunity: a neglected priority
1. Published evidence
2. Why Synergized DHEA?
B. Vitamin D as a DHEA co-factor
C. Essential Fatty Acids
D. Vitamin A
E. Medicinal Mushrooms
III. Product News:
A. October sale: MMIS (Multi-Mushroom Immune Support) 10% off through November 4
B. Joint Venture 2.0 More anti-inflammatory and antioxidant protection. More collagen for repair
If it’s not a conspiracy, it’s certainly criminal negligence.
Here we are in year three of the COVID pandemic. We’ve been through a dizzying array of cautions, warnings, guidelines, mandates, vaccines and treatments. Yet I have yet to see a single authoritative presentation on how to bolster your own immune system. The silence around this critical issue has to be questioned. Is it really the official CDC position that preventing infection by improving immunity is impossible? Would any public health official actually come out and make that statement? Of course not.
So, that being the case, why are there no guidelines for bolstering immunity, beyond the trite suggestions to stop smoking and maintain ideal weight? I believe it’s because effective measures to support immunity rely on natural products (vitamins, minerals and other plant-derived compounds) and there has been – for half a century – a concerted effort by the “powers that be” to denigrate, disparage and oppose natural products. Natalie (board-certified in Family Medicine) was routinely challenged by her medical board and insurance carriers for recommending natural products, even when efficacy and safety was supported by published biomedical literature.
There’s no room here for a discussion of how this came about – how an entire division of the biological sciences has been all but ignored. Suffice to say that I have 50 years of experience in this arena – on both sides of the therapeutic fence – and will some day chronicle both the attacks on natural product science, as well as the self-inflicted wounds by all the natura health scammers, charlatans and well-meaning cranks.
Happy to say that our “Four Stages of Infection” protocol has been downloaded more than 10,000 times since it was posted in May of 2020. Link: https://my2048.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/4-Stages-of-Infection-1.pdf
And my paper in Academia Letters regarding DHEA and COVID was widely discussed, with follow-up research confirming my hypothesis. Read the paper here:
And the follow-up research published in Frontiers in Endocrinology showing that COVID-19 patients with low levels of DHEA have worse outcomes compared to patients with higher levels. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2021.645787/full
Over 95% of airborne pathogens gain access through the mouth, nose and throat. Thus, as you would imagine, these mucous membranes contain a number of immune defenses, primarily immunoglobulins (Ig’s). The primary Ig is called secretory IgA. And levels of IgA relate directly to the immune competence of the host, ie you.
You see where I’m going here. Maintaining competent mucosal immunity should be a top priority, but no one is talking about it. Why? Because there’s presently no drug that improves mucosal immunity. Of course, there has been a lot of talk in the biomedical news about a nasal spray vaccine, but get this. That discussion has waned over the past 6 months because the trials have produced disappointing results. And by disappointing, they mean compared to intermuscular vaccines. Why can’t we have both? A spray to boost mucosal immunity (thereby preventing infection) and an intermuscular vaccine to reduce the severity of illness if we are infected?
Q: Is there a natural approach to boosting mucosal immunity?
1. High levels of DHEA are associated with competent and balanced immunity.
2. Animal studies and one human clinical trial have shown DHEA to be an effective vaccine adjuvant.  meaning that people who maintain youthful levels of DHEA produce a more robust antibody response when vaccinated. Also, in a remarkable series of experiments, researchers found that vitamin D enhanced the immune response of young but not old mice. To improve the immune competence of the older mice, they then added DHEA to the diet of the older mice. This combination of vitamin D and DHEA produced results equal to those seen in the younger mice.
4. Research clearly shows that DHEA is an effective immune modulator,
potentiating immunity against a variety of pathogens, maintaining immune competence in aging, and restoring immune balance in autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
5. Natural Killer (NK) cells are the immune system’s most powerful anti-viral weapon. NK cell deficits, both in number and killing ability, have been shown to correlate strongly with COVID-19 disease severity and deaths. DHEA administration has been shown in animal and human studies to augment both NK cell number and anti-viral activity. In one clinical trial with men (mean age of 63 years) DHEA administration resulted in a 22-37% increase in NK cell numbers with a concomitant 45% increase in cytotoxicity.
Related Question: How does Synergized DHEA For Men / Women differ from off-the-shelf DHEA?
1. DHEA works best in combination with DIM (diindolylmethane) and Alpha lipoic acid. These are provided at clinically significant amounts in Synergized DHEA. Synergized DHEA for Women also contains 50 mg of Chaste Tree berry extract. An in-depth view of these important co-factors can be found here:
2. Synergized DHEA for Men/ Women utilizes pharmaceutical (USP) grade, micronized DHEA. Micronized DHEA has been shown to be better absorbed, and to have reduced secondary conversion, thereby maximizing DHEA’s repair activity. 
For more information, or to order:
II. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids; primarily EPA and DHA found abundantly in fish oil, play a major role in maintaining the mucosal immune response. These essential fats help to maintain epithelial barrier functions and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. What’s more, compounds derived from EPA and DHA play a critical role in preventing what has been called cytokine storm, or out of control immune reaction. The summary statement from one recent study in Nature Reviews Immunology, explains, “These mediators have anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution properties, thereby protecting organs from collateral damage, stimulating the clearance of inflammatory debris and promoting mucosal antimicrobial defense.”
Healthy Skeptics Icelandic Omega-3 fish oil provides 900 mg of EPA and 600 mg of DHA per three capsule serving; guaranteed to be free of heavy metals and PCB’s.
For more information or to order:
III. Vitamin A
Mucosal immunity relies on vitamin A, and even a slight deficiency can have profound effects on disease risk. The conventional view is that vitamin A deficiency in North America is rare because of the fortification of breakfast cereals and dairy products, along with the abundance of meat, poultry, eggs and brightly colored fruits and vegetables that provide compounds (mainly carotenes) that the body can convert to vitamin A.
There are many things wrong with this view.
1. Many people don’t eat processed & fortified foods.
2. Vegans don’t eat any of the foods containing high levels of vitamin A
3. The compounds used to fortify foods, as well as the source of vitamin A in most supplements are carotenes. The assumption that everyone easily converts carotenes to vitamin A is absurd. This two-step process (carotene à retinal à retinol) takes place mainly in the small intestine. Thus the list of possible factors reducing vitamin A include:
- Celiac disease
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Pancreatic insufficiency
- Bile duct disorder
- Giardiasis and other intestinal parasites
- Chronic diarrhea.
- Cystic fibrosis.
- Zinc or iron deficiency.
- Small bowel bypass or bariatric surgery.
4. What’s more, two gene variants (known as single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPS) have been identified which limit the conversion of carotenes to vitamin A. 
Are these SNPS common? According to The Journal of Nutrition: “β-carotene absorption and conversion into retinal is extremely variable among individuals, with proportions of low responders to dietary β-carotene as high as 45%.”
What to do
A conventional (non-nutrition-oriented) doctor is never going to consider looking to evaluate vitamin A nutriture unless you present with night blindness, dry scaly skin or frequent infections. Even then, blood test reference ranges vary from lab to lab, so you are very likely to fall within the “normal” range (15 to 60 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL). I was taught, however, that anything less than 20 mcg/dL indicates severe vitamin A deficiency, and research suggests that the optimal range for serum vitamin A is 35 to 70 mcg/dL)
If you are eating a conscious omnivore diet containing fish, poultry, eggs and a wide variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and have no intestinal or liver disease, chances are good that you’re getting enough vitamin A. Adding a multivitamin containing vitamin A will be added insurance. If you are a vegan, supplementation is important.
What to look for: As mentioned above, people vary widely in their ability to convert carotenes to biologically active vitamin A. Thus we suggest looking for vitamin A palmitate, the vitamin found in animal products, such as liver, eggs, and cheese. It’s also called preformed vitamin A and retinyl palmitate. Vitamin A palmitate can be derived from fish liver oil, or synthesized in a lab. Whether vitamin A palmitate is vegan depends on how the palmitic acid is sourced. In the vast majority of products, it is derived from palm oil, but vegans will want to look on the product label for the Vegan Friendly badge.
An excellent list of High Vitamin A foods can be found here:
IV. Medicinal Mushrooms
The most bioactive compounds found in medicinal mushrooms – and the ones with the greatest research support – are known as beta glucans. These signaling molecules have been shown to “train” the immune system, resulting in an enhanced response to initial exposure to bacteria and viruses, as well as helping to build a long-term immune response to secondary or chronic infections.
Oral supplementation with beta glucan has produced remarkable immune benefits in men, women and children. In a study with children with chronic respiratory problems, supplementation with 100 mg of beta glucan for only 4 weeks produced significant improvements in physical endurance and mucosal immunity.
Healthy Skeptics MMIS (Multi-Mushroom Immune Support) contains concentrates of Shittake, Reishi, Turkey Tail and Chaga mushrooms to which we add pure beta glucan. Each serving (one small scoop) provides 1,500 mg of mushroom concentrates and an additional 180 mg of beta glucan. This represents far greater potency compared to other mushroom powders and tinctures available today.
One canister provides 60 servings and is on sale through November 4. See Product News below. For more information or to order:
SALE Product for October: MMIS
You will not be surprised to learn that our raw materials and shipping costs continue to climb. With MMIS, we are happy to report that this was a very good year for North American mushroom growers. Thus we can offer 10% off through November 4. That makes the retail price $89.55 and for Healthy Skeptics Members: $71.95 per canister.
How to use: The umami-flavored powder makes a nice tea with hot (not boiling) water. Many people add a scoop to their coffee.
New and Improved: Joint Venture 2.0
With new equipment, we are able to fit more material in our capsules. So we made a great product even better: announcing Joint Venture 2.0
More anti-inflammatory and antioxidant protection
25% more Univestin
25% more Amlexin
50% more hydrolyzed collagen
50% more Aronia berry extract
Slight price increase: $44.95 retail
Healthy Skeptics Member: $39.95
Cited References Vitamins and Hormones. Volume 108, 2018, Pages 125-144. DHEA Modulates ImmuneFunction: A Review of Evidence. Sean P.Prall, Michael P.Muehlenbein.
 Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 8 April 2008. Impact of DHEA(S) andcortisol on immune function in aging: a brief review. Thomas W. Buford and Darryn S.Willoughby. https://doi.org/10.1139/H08-013
 AnnNYAcadSci. 1994Aug15;730:144-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1994.tb44246.x.The development of effective vaccine adjuvants employing natural regulators of T-cell lymphokine production in vivo. R A Daynes , B A Araneo.
 AnnNYAcadSci. 1995Dec29;774:232-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1995.tb17384.x-i1. DHEAS as an effective vaccine adjuvant in elderly humans. Proof-of-principle studies. B Araneo, T Dowell, M L Woods, R Daynes, M Judd, T Evans
 Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1994 Aug 15;730:144-61. The development of effective vaccine adjuvants employing natural regulators of T-cell lymphokine production in vivo. R A Daynes, B A Araneo
 JSteroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2010 May31;120(2-3):127-36. Dehydroepiandrosterone as a regulator of immune cell function. Jon Hazeldine , Wiebke Arlt, Janet M Lord
 Experimental Hematology & Oncology volume 10, Article number: 5 (2021). Natural killer cells associated with SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA shedding, antibody response and mortality in COVID-19 patients. Changqian Bao, et al.
 J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Sep;84(9):3260-7. Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate enhances natural killer cell cytotoxicity in humans via locally generated immunoreactive insulin-like growth factor I. Solerte SB, Fioravanti M, Vignati G, Giustina A, Cravello L,Ferrari E.
 J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1997 Jan;52(1):M1-7. Activation of Immune Function by Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in Age-Advanced Men. O Khorram , L Vu, S S Yen
 Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Feb;174(2):649-53. Delivery of DHEA to premenopausal women: effects of micronization and nonoral administration.
P R Casson, A B Straughn, E S Umstot, G E Abraham, S A Carson, J E Buster Nat Rev Immunol. 2008 May;8(5):349-61. Resolving inflammation: dual anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution lipid mediators. Charles N Serhan , Nan Chiang, Thomas E Van Dyke
 FASEB J. 2009 Apr;23(4):1041-53. Two common single nucleotide polymorphisms in the gene encoding beta-carotene 15,15′-monoxygenase alter beta-carotene metabolism in female volunteers. W C Leung, S Hessel, C Méplan, J Flint, V Oberhauser, F Tourniaire, J E Hesketh, J von Lintig, G Lietz
 J Nutr. 2012 Jan;142(1):161S-5S. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.140756.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms upstream from the β-carotene 15,15′-monoxygenase gene influence provitamin A conversion efficiency in female volunteers. Georg Lietz, Anthony Oxley, Wing Leung, John Hesketh
 Front Immunol. 2021 Jun 2;12:672796. Continuous Exposure to Non-Soluble β-Glucans Induces Trained Immunity in M-CSF-Differentiated Macrophages. Bart G J Moerings, et al.
 Ann Transl Med. 2015 Mar; 3(4): 52. β-glucan affects mucosal immunity in children with chronic respiratory problems under physical stress: clinical trials. Josef Richter, et al.