Does the use of cysteine-rich whey protein supplements (Inmunocal®) improve the health well-being of COVID-19 patients? A qualitative study
More details
Hide details
South American Center for Research in Education and Public Health, Universidad Norbert Wiener, Lima, PERU
Hospital Nacional Docente Madre Niño San Bartolomé, Lima, PERU
Public Minister, Lima, PERU
Online publication date: 2022-11-17
Publication date: 2023-01-01
Electron J Gen Med 2023;20(1):em433
In the context of SARS-CoV-2 infection, it has been proposed that oxidative stress may contribute to the management of COVID-19 severity. The impact on the well-being of patients with COVID-19 using cysteine-providing supplements has not yet been evaluated and there is a need to understand the benefits and limitations they may offer.

The aim of this study is to understand the experiences of improved well-being with cysteine-rich whey protein supplementation (Immunocal®) in patients with COVID-19.

A qualitative study was conducted by conducting semi-structured interviews with four participants taking Immunocal® while they had COVID-19. Participants were randomly recruited through internet networking. Ethical approval was obtained from the University ethics committee. Participants were informed of the study objectives two days in advance and consent was obtained before interviews began. We used the 16-item “Use of Immunocal supplement for COVID-19” (USIC-19) questionnaire to inquire about COVID-19 behavior (time of illness, symptoms, and severity of illness) and the experience of using the supplement during illness. Confidentiality was maintained throughout this study.

All participants presented mild discomfort such as headache, weakness, and tiredness when they had COVID-19 impacting most of them emotionally. The use of Immunocal® produced a partial improvement in all patients as only two continued to experience fatigue. Immunocal® improved the mood (50%) and physical health of the participants. In addition, participants reported that the supplement was recommended and dosed primarily by a consultant and that they did not feel hesitant to use it because of previous experiences of friends and family. The daily dosage of half of the participants was two sachets and all felt the need to consume the supplement which resulted in daily use.

Following the daily dosage indications of the consultants, the participants who have consumed Inmunocal® have presented a partial improvement of the symptoms related to COVID-19, however, they feel the need to consume the supplement daily to improve their quality of life.

World Health Organization. Monthly operational update on COVID-19-May 2022. Available at: https://www.who.int/publicatio... (Accessed 10 July 2022).
Nie Z, Sun T, Zhao F. Safety and efficacy of antiviral drugs for the treatment of COVID-19: A systematic review. Infect Drug Resist. 2022;(15):4457-66. https://doi.org/10.2147/IDR.S3... PMid:35983302 PMCid:PMC9381013.
García-Albéniz X, del Amo J, Morales- Asencio J, Hernan M. Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials of hydroxychloroquine for the prevention of COVID-19. Eur J Epidemiol. 2022;37(8):789-96. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654... PMid:35943669 PMCid:PMC9360718.
COVID-19 Excess Mortality Collaborators. Estimating excess mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic analysis of COVID-19-related mortality, 2020-21. Lancet. 2022;399(10334):1513-36.
Seguro Social del Perú [Social Security of Peru]. Guía de práctica clínica para el manejo de COVID-19: Guía en versión extensa. Versión 2 [Clinical practice guide for the management of COVID-19: Guide in long version. Version 2]. Lima: EsSalud; 2021. Available at: http://www.essalud.gob.pe/iets... (Accessed 10 July 2022).
Polo R, Garcia-Albeniz X, Terán C, et al. Daily tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine and hydroxychloroquine for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19: A double-blind placebo controlled randomized trial in healthcare workers. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2022;S1198-743X(22)00370-6. https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.0....
Ferreira-da-Silva R, Ribeiro-Vaz I, Morato M, Junqueira Polónia J. A comprehensive review of adverse events to drugs used in COVID-19 patients: Recent clinical evidence. Eur J Clin Invest. 2022;52(7):e13763. https://doi.org/10.1111/eci.13... PMid:35224719 PMCid:PMC9111855.
Lingas EC. Empiric antibiotics in COVID 19: A narrative review. Cureus. 2022;14(6):e25596. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus....
Cao B, Wang Y, Wen D, et al. A trial of lopinavir-ritonavir in adults hospitalized with severe COVID-19. N Engl J Med. 2020;382(19):1787-99. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa... PMid:32187464 PMCid:PMC7121492.
Darenskaya M, Kolesnikova L, Kolesnikov S. The association of respiratory viruses with oxidative stress and antioxidants. Implications for the COVID-19 pandemic. Curr Pharm Des. 2021;27(13):1618-27. https://doi.org/10.2174/138161... PMid:33618639.
Polonikov A. Endogenous deficiency of glutathione as the most likely cause of serious manifestations and death in COVID-19 patients. ACS Infect Dis. 2020;6(7):1558-62. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsinf... PMid:32463221 PMCid:PMC7263077.
Jorge-Aarón RM, Rosa-Ester MP. N-acetylcysteine as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Future Microbiol. 2020;15:959-62. https://doi.org/10.2217/fmb-20... PMid:32662664 PMCid:PMC7359418.
Palinkas LA, Horwitz SM, Green CA, Wisdom JP, Duan N, Hoagwood K. Purposeful sampling for qualitative data collection and analysis in mixed method implementation research. Adm Policy Ment Health. 2015;42(5):533-44. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488... PMid:24193818 PMCid:PMC4012002.
Tong A, Sainsbury P, Craig J. Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): A 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups. Int J Qual Health Care. 2007;19(6):349-57.https://doi.org/10.1093/intqhc... PMid:17872937.
Braun V, Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Res Psychol. 2006;3(2):77-101. https://doi.org/10.1191/147808....
Baruchel B, Viau G, Olivier R, Bounos G, Wainberg MA. Nutriceutical modulation of glutathione with a humanized native milk serum protein isolate, IMMUNOCAL™: Application in AIDS and cancer IMMUNOCAL™. In: Montagnier L, Olivier R, Pasquier C, editors. Oxidative stress in cancer, AIDS, and neurodegenerative diseases. Nueva York: CRC Press; 1998; p. 447-61.
Ho W, Douglas SD. Glutathione and N-acetylcysteine suppression of human immunodeficiency virus replication in human monocyte/macrophages in vitro. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1992;8(7):1249-53. https://doi.org/10.1089/aid.19... PMid:1520537.
Avdeev S, Gaynitdinova V, Merzhoeva Z, Berikkhanov. N-acetylcysteine for the treatment of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients. Int J Infect. 2022;84(1):94-118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf... PMid:34252497 PMCid:PMC8271031.
Robinson D. Nutritional and non-medication supplements permitted for performance enhancement. UpToDate 2020. Available at: https://cdn1.redemc.net/campus... (Accessed 10 July 2022).
Lai Z-W, Hanczko R, Bonilla E, et al. N-acetylcysteine reduces disease activity by blocking mammalian target of rapamycin in T cells from systemic lupus erythematosus patients: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2012;64(9):2937-46. https://doi.org/10.1002/art.34... PMid:22549432 PMCid:PMC3411859.
Zhang L, Lin D, Sun X, et al. Crystal structure of SARS-CoV-2 main protease provides a basis for design of improved α-ketoamide inhibitors. Science. 2020;368(6489):409-12. https://doi.org/10.1126/scienc... PMid:32198291 PMCid:PMC7164518.
Guthappa R. Molecular docking studies of N-acetyl cysteine, zinc acetyl cysteine and niclosamide on SARS Cov 2 protease and its comparison with hydroxychloroquine. Chemarxiv. 2020. Available at: https://doi.org/10.26434/chemr... (Accessed 10 July 2022).
Debnath U, Mitra A, Dewaker V, et al. N-acetyl cysteine: A tool to perturb SARS-CoV-2 spike protein conformation. ChemRxiv. 2020. Available at: https://doi.org/10.26434/chemr... (Accessed 10 July 2022).
du Preez HN, Aldous C, Kruger HG, Johnson L. N-acetylcysteine and other sulfur-donors as a preventative and adjunct therapy for COVID-19. Adv Pharmacol Pharm Sci. 2022;2022:4555490. https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/4... PMid:35992575 PMCid:PMC9385285.
Jain SK, Parsanathan R. Can vitamin D and L-cysteine co-supplementation reduce 25(OH)-vitamin D deficiency and the mortality associated with COVID-19 in African Americans? J Am Coll Nut. 2020;39(8):694-9. https://doi.org/10.1080/073157... PMid:32659175 PMCid:PMC9503652.
Nahum Montagud Rubio. Inmunocal: Características, beneficios y precauciones al tomarlo [Immunocal: Characteristics, benefits and precautions when taking it]. 2019. Available at: https://psicologiaymente.com/n... (Accessed 10 July 2022).
Consultores Immunocal [Immunocal Consultants]. ¿Cuáles son las dosis de Immunocal? [What are the doses of Immunocal?] Available at: https://inmunofuerte.net/cuale... (Accessed 10 July 2022).
Pérez N. Immunocal: ¿Qué es y para qué sirve? [Immunocal: What is it and what is it for?] Available at: https://prixz.com/salud/immuno... (Accessed 10 July 2022).
Ang L, Song E, Zhang J, Lee HW, Lee MS. Herbal medicine for COVID-19: An overview of systematic reviews and meta-analysis. Phytomedicine. 2022;102:154136. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phym... PMid:35550224 PMCid:PMC9045877.
Garegnani LI, Madrid E, Meza N. Misleading clinical evidence and systematic reviews on ivermectin for COVID-19. BMJ Evid Based Med. 2022;27(3):156-8. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjebm... PMid:33888547.
Hermel M, Sweeney M, Ni Y-M, et al. Natural supplements for COVID19–Background, rationale, and clinical trials. J Evid Based Integ Med. 2021;26:2515690X211036875. https://doi.org/10.1177/251569... PMid:34384258 PMCid:PMC8369961.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top