Best Strategies To Enhance Your Immune System At Home, with Dr. Parris Kidd

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In the fourth and final episode of a series with BrainMD chief science officer Dr. Parris Kidd, Kidd and the Amens discuss further strategies to build up your immune system to stay strong and healthy. Dr. Kidd gives the details on such effective supplements as elderberry, echinacea, and mushrooms.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We are here with our friend Dr. Parris Kidd talking about immunity, and we've talked about the importance of vitamin A and vitamin C and vitamin D and vitamin E and zinc. And a lot of people think of herbals like echinacea as really important. Mushrooms are getting a fair amount of attention, and in the diet, garlic, onions, and mushrooms have been found to help immunity. But, Parris, talk to us about herbal medications that might help.
Dr Parris Kidd: Well, whether or not herbals will help depends on the particular herbal, the clinical trials that have been done with that herbal, that is, what do we know about it under controlled research circumstances, and what sort of immune problem you have. Now, if you feel a cold coming on or if you know that you have a susceptibility to getting colds, echinacea is just fine. It'll help you. Elderberry is just fine. So is high oral vitamin C and always the really, really good multiple. And we didn't bring up the omega-3s yet, but the omega-3s are very important for balancing the immune system as well.
However, herbals like echinacea and elderberry and certain others make the immune system more aggressive, so they stimulate the immune system. And they get it to be running around pretty excited, so to speak, looking for trouble, maybe going off a little bit half-cocked. So if a person is hospitalized and they have inflammation in their lungs or in other tissues or whatever and you give them herbals, you may be actually worsening the inflammation.
Tana Amen: Oh. So is that why they tell you to go off of all your herbals before surgery?
Dr Parris Kidd: Well, potentially, yes.
Tana Amen: So I thought it was just the blood-thinning properties of some of them, but maybe that's more-
Dr Parris Kidd: Potentially.
Tana Amen: Maybe that's part of it.
Dr Parris Kidd: Right. Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, let me just do a little sidebar here because one of the things that's killing people with COVID-19 is something called a cytokine storm, which is a dramatic increase in inflammation in the body. And the people who are most vulnerable to mortality have underlying inflammatory illnesses like obesity.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: When I see all the pictures of people that died, not all, but a lot of them, they're significantly overweight, and adipose tissue, fat tissue, actually produces something called inflammatory cytokines. And calming that down, one by being healthy, is really important, so I can see that's where omega-3 fatty acids can begin to calm down the inflammation.
Dr Parris Kidd: Right, right. And practically no American is getting, except for you and Tana and some of us in the Amen community, practically nobody else is getting enough EPA and DHA omega-3s because-
Tana Amen: Yeah, he had to tell me to stop taking so much. I'm like, "Well, more must be better."
Dr Parris Kidd: 3000 milligrams. 3000 milligrams max of EPA and DHA.
Tana Amen: Max?
Dr Parris Kidd: Max of EPA and DHA. 3000 mg.
Dr Daniel Amen: That is what is in 5.6 grams of fish oil-
Tana Amen: Oh, okay, because I'm taking 5.6 grams. Okay.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... in Brain and Body Power Max. So [crosstalk 00:04:57]-
Dr Parris Kidd: If the average person goes into CVS and buys fish oil, they'll get 300 milligrams.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Parris Kidd: That's 1/10th of what would be optimal.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Parris Kidd: And they can take it forever, and they'll never get up to where they need it to be.
Dr Daniel Amen: So just go back before I derailed us. Echinacea and elderberry can be helpful, but you also don't want to overdo it because it's like putting all of the soldiers on speed.
Tana Amen: But you mentioned mushrooms at some point.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, now I want us to talk about mushrooms. We're actually working on a mushroom product. What about mushrooms and the immunity?
Dr Parris Kidd: Yeah, I'm very glad that we're doing a mushroom product, and we also have a greens [crosstalk 00:00:05:45]-
Tana Amen: We're not talking about magic mushrooms here.
Dr Parris Kidd: Yeah, don't even ask about magic mushrooms, but we also have a greens product that we're coming out with that has mushrooms in it. The mushrooms are very, very interesting. They don't stimulate the immune system. What they do is they give the soldiers training. So, the mushrooms have huge molecules.
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr Parris Kidd: They have huge carbohydrate molecules, big molecules with complicated shapes. And as these come into the intestinal tract, the immune cells on patrol pick them up, sample them. They digest them, they sample them, they show them to each other, and that gives them alertness. They become more alert-
Tana Amen: Weird.
Dr Parris Kidd: ... to be tuned up for all the particles that come in and are harmful. And probably because of our millions of years of consuming mushrooms, our immune cells don't see the mushrooms as non-cells. They see the mushroom. These are glucan substances. They're not sugar or sugars. They are very big carbohydrate molecules, almost like fiber in some cases.
So the immune cells see these as friendly molecules, but on the same experience, they tune up the immune cells. And so the immune cells are just on better level of alert. So I wrote a comprehensive review on mushrooms and cancer some time back that shows very clearly that one mushroom in particular can be very effective against cancer, so it will improve the alertness of the immune system in finding cancer cells and eliminating them.
Tana Amen: That's so interesting. I know there's-
Dr Daniel Amen: And which mushroom was that?
Dr Parris Kidd: Coriolus, or so-called turkey tail.
Tana Amen: So interesting.
Dr Parris Kidd: It's not a food mushroom, but it is edible. And the other mushrooms that we will have in our products are maitake, shiitake, and reishi, all of which also have glucans and all of which also help to tune up the immune system. And so we know that they improve immune function without overstimulating and without upregulating or downregulating the immune system. And that's what's so nice about them. They're very important for fine tuning the immune system.
Tana Amen: Yeah. You hear stories about, even for thousands of years, like the Chinese giving their horses mushrooms before going into battle because it made them run faster. And it's just so interesting.
Dr Parris Kidd: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, the ques-
Dr Parris Kidd: Right.
Tana Amen: So I took cordyceps-
Dr Daniel Amen: It's a mushroom [crosstalk 00:08:44].
Tana Amen: ... when I was working out really hard to have a really high heart rate because of all the thyroid stuff that I take.
Dr Parris Kidd: Right.
Tana Amen: And so someone told me to take cordyceps, and I think I felt a little better. I actually think I felt a little stronger. It wasn't like taking a medication, but I felt pretty good taking it.
Dr Parris Kidd: Yeah. Cordyceps is actually a kind of down-regulator of the immune system.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I felt like I was a little stronger, could breathe a little better, and-
Dr Daniel Amen: And we also are going to have lion's mane in the product as well, which has been shown to have some cognitive benefits.
Dr Parris Kidd: Right. Now, lion's mane not only has the glucans for the immune system, but it also has substances that increase growth factors in the brain. And it's been shown in clinical trials to improve memory and other higher brain functions. And it's a very expensive mushroom to get, so I'm really glad that we were able to get a reliable supply of it and to put it into the brain immunity product that we're coming out with.
Tana Amen: So I have one important question. We've talked about a lot of things, and I think it's really informative to people, but a question that I get a lot and even in my podcast and my video that I did with you for my community that was so helpful to people, but people still ask because they may not have seen that. Can people take all of this together? Do they need to take them at separate times of the day with different types of food?
Dr Parris Kidd: Yeah. Yeah. They can take all of this together, and if they're relatively healthy people under stress, or even if they're not that healthy, they should be taking the really good multiple, the really concentrated omega-3 EPA and DHA, the mushrooms. They should have their blood vitamin D3 monitored and get it onto the high level. They should be sure to have their blood levels monitored for the minerals and so on, but all of those things are okay. It's just that if they're hospitalized and they have a fairly aggressive inflammatory situation going on, there are certain herbals they should not take.
Now, there are other herbals that actually regulate the inflammatory response, such as the curcumins, and for people who have ongoing inflammatory issues, I would highly recommend the brain curcumins product that we have, for example, and I take lots of that myself. So the curcumins are not really immune stimulants or immune regulators, but they do tend to help the inflammatory response to come to a termination. So does vitamin D. So do the omega-3s.
Tana Amen: Okay.
Dr Parris Kidd: So limited inflammation is good, but long-term inflammation is not good, and the proper balance of nutrients and herbals can help to make sure that your inflammatory response is a healthy response and doesn't get out of control.
Tana Amen: No, it's perfect.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, Parris, this was so helpful.
Tana Amen: So helpful.
Dr Daniel Amen: We are so grateful to have you as our friend and the chief science officer at BrainMD. We wish you health and safety, and together we're going to make more great products to serve our community.
Dr Parris Kidd: Well, thank you very much, Daniel, and I share your and Tana's goals in getting the information out to all the people out there who need it, particularly at this stressful and challenging time.
Tana Amen: Thank you.
Dr Daniel Amen: Thanks, my friend.
Tana Amen: Take care.
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