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Low Natural Killer Cells - is there a protocol?


I don't know too much about colostrum but my former ND had recommended all kinds of stuff for me at one point including colostrum, Transfer Factor, Lomatium, etc.
I took Transfer Factor for over a year and progressively got worse. (I don't blame the TF for the decline, but it certainly didn't seem to do anything positive) It's also not cheap. I'm more selective these days.

With some solid studies regarding NK cells and mushroom extracts, I may add either AHCC or the combo of Maitake and Shiitake. The article I referenced above, Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts used the following brands:

1.MaitakeGold 404 (MTG404)
2. Shiitake whole mushroom powder obtained from Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc. (Sebastopol, CA, USA)

I'm wondering why you switched from Maitake to AHCC? Which Maitake did you use?
@SDSue, working on a dairy, we used to be 'swimming' in colostrum daily. The excess used to go down the drain! I could have made myself a fortune selling it on PR, dang . . ;)
I milked a few in my day, too. Unfortunately I couldn't quite get past the ick factor and spray the milk directly into my mouth. :vomit: Wouda, coulda, shoulda!
If you've had various tests and are not certain whether your physician is interpreting them correctly, you may be able to get a consultation with a physician who is known to have expertise in ME/CFS (such as the physicians at OMI in Mountain View (near San Jose, CA; interact with the CFS group at Stanford (and Kogelnik (at OMI) was a post-doc with Montoya at Stanford) - or others out there ... most of whom are probably the known good researchers). It can never hurt to ask. The protocol involved in trying to address low NK cell function in part seems to depend on what viruses (HHV-6, EBV, CMV, etc.) have been reactivated in a given person. You need to get advice from people who really know this area (and there are relatively few who do!)


Senior Member
There are so many threads with people reporting low natural killer cell function it's hard to know where to post.

I was tested a few months ago (my only time), using Quest Diagnostics, and didn't quite make it into the single digit club, but close at 10:

NK Cells Functional: 10 LU30
Normal Activity: 7-125 LU30

My vasopressin (ADH) was undetectable, which also seems to be a common finding with ME/CFS.

Actually, it seems like those two results are often found in the same person. I wonder how often low NK cell activity and low vasopressin are found together in other illnesses?


Senior Member
Actually, it seems like those two results are often found in the same person. I wonder how often low NK cell activity and low vasopressin are found together in other illnesses?

@nandixon This is a great question and I am actually going to ask my doctor this when I do my next phone consult. My NK functioning back in July 2014 was only 5 LU (and still waiting for NK results from Dec 2014) and my vasopressin (ADH) was also undetectable. This HAS to mean something or be a clue to the biomarker in ME/CFS. I find it impossible to believe that this is random or not crucial in some way.


Senior Member
There are a number of supplements that boost natural killer cell function (activity), including the following:

Natural Killer Cell Activation Boosters
  • Liposomal glutathione 500 mg or 1000 mg orally daily increases NK cell function by 400% and 210% respectively after 2 weeks (the lower dose results in a larger increase). 1
  • Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) — intraperitoneal injection of an extract (of eleutherosides B and D) increased the activity of natural killer cells by 200% after one week. 1
  • Tagamet (cimetidine) a H2 antihistamine markedly increases natural killer activity (in post-operative ovarian cancer patients). 1
  • MGN3 Biobran (extract of arabinoxylan from rice bran) 1 2
  • B12 methylcobalamin injections increases NK cell functioning. 1
  • Cardamom or black pepper enhance NK cell functioning. 1
  • Germanium sesquioxide 1
  • Panax ginseng 1
  • IGF-1 1
  • Larch arabinogalactan 1
  • Transfer factor 1
  • Cordyceps sinensis 1
  • Maitake 1
  • Shiitake 1
  • Reishi 1
  • Sulforaphane 1
  • Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), aka phytic acid 1 2
  • Aged garlic 1
  • Selenium 1
  • Vitamin E — in mice 100 mg of alpha tocopherol daily increase NK activity. Tocotrienol showed a similar response at ten times lower dose. 1
  • Beta sitosterol 1
  • Echinacea 1 2
  • Lycopene 1
  • Neem (Azadirachta indica) 1
  • Noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia) 1
  • Spirulina 1
  • Low dose naltrexone (LDN) may improve NK functioning in ME/CFS 1
  • Inosine pranobex (Imunovir) 1

Here are some figures I found from various articles about the potency of some of the above supplements:

Potency of NK Boosters:
MGN3 Biobran: 300% increase in NK activity
Siberian ginseng extract injection: 200% increase in NK activity after one week
Aged garlic: 155.5% increase
Raw garlic: 139.9% increase (at 10 cloves a day)
Rhodiola rosea: 112% increase in NK activity in intestines
Cordyceps: 74% increase in NK activity
Spirulina: 40% increase
Astragalus extract: 11% to 45% increase
Lycopene: 28% increase in NK activity after 12 weeks

A product called 4Life Transfer Factor, which contains a combination of the above supplements, claims to boost natural killer cell activity by 437%.

I have tried cocktails of the above NK cell function boosting supplements, and they do seem to improve my ME/CFS symptoms to a degree. So it may be worth experimenting with these NK cell boosters.

With Siberian ginseng, it is recommended to take a few weeks off every few months.

Endorphins activate natural killer (NK) cells 1 2, so one might speculate that the low endorphin levels found in ME/CFS might be etiologically involved in the low NK cell function found in ME/CFS patients.

Low nitric oxide might also play a role in the low NK function found in ME/CFS:
An article published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation described a study of the effects of L-arginine on NK cell function in 20 subjects with chronic fatigue syndrome and 21 healthy individuals. Arginine was found to increase NK activity in the healthy subjects but not those with CFS. Further investigation, however, found that the effect of arginine on NK cell activity was mediated by nitric oxide. That is, the increase in NK activity induced by arginine was blocked by the addition of an inhibitor of inducible nitric oxide synthase. NK activity was increased by incubation with a nitric oxide donor. The authors concluded that a dysfunction in the nitric oxide mediated NK cell activation may exist in CFS patients.

Ogawa, M., et al., Decreased nitric oxide-mediated natural killer cell activation in chronic fatigue syndrome. Eur J Clin Invest, 1998. 28(11): p. 937-43.
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Senior Member
has anyone out there ever heard of anyone's NK cell function normalizing after treatment/remission/recovery? After all the research I have done, I have not come across this.


My NK cell results are back, and they are low. Is there a tx plan for
My results: 2 LU30
Normal Activity: 7 - 250 LU30
They put me on LDN (OTC) and Imunovir (Rx) or inosine (OTC) for it.
If you google NK dysfunction Syndrome, you will see that you will have viral reactivation, for thsoe depending on viral load I got antiviral.