Science behind Breathe+

Good lung health allows us to breathe freely, perform optimally and recover quickly should we become ill.  The most important function of our lungs is to take oxygen from the environment and transfer it to the bloodstream.  

What Happens If Our Lungs Are Damaged?

If our lungs are suffering from damage, inflammation or infection, our lung tissue may be stiff and scarred, and airways filled with mucus. This makes it difficult for the lungs to expand and contract, meaning breathing is harder and the oxygen we take in can be less.

Fortunately, our lungs are the first out of any of our body’s organs to receive the benefits of consumed and absorbed bioactives (after our liver). This means that consumption of powerful bioactives will result in benefits to the lungs early.

A lozenge formulation featuring anthocyanins, quercetin, zinc and BlisK12 may improve lung health by reducing oxidative stress and helping us defend against pathogen invasion, or infection, resolve inflammation, reduce blood pressure and aid the post inflammatory healing processes.

Bioactives from Boysenberries

Boysenberries contains a unique combination of bioactives which support stressed lungs.  Boysenberry ingestion targets innate proinflammatory pathways to mitigate inflammation and supports fibrolytic macrophages which repair lung inflammatory damage (Shaw et al., 2016; Shaw et al., 2021).  

What boysenberry extract does is summarised below:

  • Boysenberry consumption significantly reduces airway inflammation through decreased cell infiltration and mucus production;
  • Boysenberry consumption reduces collagen deposition from chronic inflammation and assists in the repair of damaged tissue by supporting fibrolytic M2 macrophages
  • Boysenberry consumption prophylactically prevents airway inflammation.

Potential modes of action by boysenberry bioactive molecules are summarised below:

  • Reduce immune cell infiltration and mucus over secretion via anthocyanin cyanidin-3-Oglucoside modulating the IL-4Rα-STAT6 signaling pathway (Ma et al., 2019);
  • Cyanidin acts as an agonist (activator) for peroxisome proliferator-activator receptor (PPAR)-γ (Jia et al., 2013); this may increase numbers and activity of M2 fibrolytic macrophages, thereby helping with removal of inappropriately deposited collagen;
  • Anthocyanins also inhibit CCL11 and CCL26 eosinophil recruitment, presumably through inhibition of the STAT6 pathway (Sawyer et al., 2017);
  • The procyanidins epicatechin (EC) and epigallocatechin (EGC) inhibit TNF-α NFκB signaling to reduce CCL11 eosinophil recruitment (Sawyer et al., 2017, Coleman et al., 2016);
  • Procyanidins also potentially inhibit IL-4/IL-13 signaling through receptor internalisation, membrane polarisation and/or affecting the redox potential of the cell which decreases inflammatory signaling pathways.

Bioactives from Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants contain bioactives which support healthy lungs and vascular system, as well as being cardioprotective.  Blackcurrants have also been shown to increase VO2 max and sport performance in elite athletes.

Blackcurrants have been shown to reduce inflammation in asthmatics.  Blackcurrant anthocyanins attenuated OVA-induced airway inflammation, eosinophilia, and CCL11 production in a murine asthma model.  Similarly, higher levels of IL-17 in asthmatic patients have been shown to stimulate neutrophil-mobilizing cytokines such as IL-6 and -18 through MAPK and NF- k B pathways (Shaw, et al., 2017, Kim et al,. 2011). 

Blackcurrants support a healthy vascular system in older adults.  Carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity, an index of central arterial stiffness, and central blood pressure were measured at baseline and again at the end of the 7-day study period.  Carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity and central blood pressure decreased significantly after the 7-day study period with blackcurrant intake. In addition, carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity and central blood pressure in the blackcurrant intake trial decreased significantly more than in the placebo intake trial (Okamoto et al., 2020).

The anthocyanins found in blackcurrants, according to in vitro and in vivo experiments with animals, as well as several epidemiological or clinical studies in humans, have been demonstrated to be effective in protection of the heart against ischemia/reperfusion-induced injury and in reduction of mortality related to cardiovascular diseases (Zern, et al., 2005, Cassidy, et al., 2015, Cassidy, et al., 2013, Mink et al., 2007, Scarabelli et al., 2009, Toufektsian, et al., 2008, Wang, et al., 2014).

New Zealand Blackcurrants were shown to increase VO2 max, and the total running distance of elite athletes by 10.6%.  Also, as greater distances were covered with repeated sprints, there was 15% higher lactate at exhaustion, and larger changes in lactate during early recovery after repeated sprints to exhaustion when blackcurrant was consumed (Perkins, I. C. et al., 2015).


Quercetin (2-(3,4-Dihydroxyphenyl)-3,5,7-Trihydroxy-4-Chromen-4-One)) is a yellow coloured flavonol, which is poorly soluble in hot water, insoluble in cold water, but soluble in fats and alcohols.  It is well tolerated during human clinical dosage studies, and dosages over 1,000mg per day for several months have shown no side effects (Azuma et al., 2010, Han et al., 2020).

Quercetin is widely known in the scientific literature for its anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, antihypercholesterolemic and antiatherosclerotic and vasodilatory properties, as reviewed by David et al., (2016). It has been used in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and allergic, metabolic and inflammatory disorders (Batiha et al., 2020).  Quercetin is found in many plants, including nuts, citrus, grapes, berries, cruciferous vegetables and onions. 

Quercetin is believed to be able to inhibit coronavirus MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 by inhibiting viral protease activity of the main protease 6LU7 (3CLpro) (Jo et al., 2019, Khaerunnisa et al., 2020), as well as being a potential pandemic mitigation agent through downregulation of putative coronavirus infection-promoting disease conditions.  

In a recent pilot study, quercetin supplementation statistically improved all the clinical outcomes considered (need and length of hospitalisation, need of non-invasive oxygen therapy, progression to intensive care units and death) in Covid-19 infections (Di Pierro et al., 2021).  The results were in line with systematic reviews and meta-analyses of preclinical studies (Glinsky 2020., Brito, et al., 2021). 

Quercetin is a potent anti-inflammatory compound (Li et al., 2016, Bureau et al., 2008, Garcia-Mediavilla et al., 2007, Ginawala et al., 2019):

  • Reducing cytokines TNF, IL-8, IL-1 and IL-4;
  • Inhibiting proinflammatory enzymes COX-2, MAPK, NFkB, AP-1, NOS and CRP;   Inhibiting VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 and E-selectin expression; and
  • Inhibiting histamine release.

Quercetin is a potent antioxidant and has shown protective effects against:

  • Reactive oxygen and peroxide species;
  • The oxidative stresses arising from cancers;
  • Excessive androgens;
  • Cardiac dysfunction, trauma and calcium overload, acrylamide, radiation, and neurodegenerative diseases.

(Boots et al., 2008, Stefek et al., 2011, Moretti et al., 2012, Maciel et al 2013, Coballase-Urrutia et al., 2013, Tátraaljai, et al., 2014, Ravichandranet et al., 2014, Sharmila et al., 2014a, Sharmila et al., 2014b, Li, et al., 2016, Yarahmadi et al., 2017, Kalantari et al., 2018, Xu, et al., 2019)

Quercetin also exhibits antiviral properties, this has been shown against a variety of viruses, including:

  • Japanese encephalitis virus;
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1;
  • Dengue virus type 2;
  • Hepatitis C virus.

Quercetin acts by inhibiting viral NS3 protease activity and inhibits influenza virus invading cells by binding to the hemagglutination protein HA (Ramadan et al., 2009, Fan et al., 2011, CoelhoDos-Reis et al., 2011, Zandi et al., 2011, Song et al., 2011, Johari et al., 2012, Bachmetov et al., 2012, Wu et al., 2016). 

A multi-drug approach has been proposed combining quercetin and vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which may disrupt virus entry, replication, enzyme activity and assembly, and concurrently fortify the immune response promoting early IFNs production, modulating interleukins, promoting T-cell maturation, and phagocytic activity (Colunga et al., 2020)

Quercetin and ascorbic acid co-administration represents an experimental strategy for prophylaxis and treatment of several respiratory viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2. The blockage of virus entry represents a key strategy and quercetin impedes viral membrane fusion for both influenza and SARS-CoV in vitro (Yi et al. ,2004). 

Quercetin was safely tolerated by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, in doses up to 2,000 mg/day as assessed by lung function; FEV1/FVC, blood profile and COPD assessment test questionnaire (Han et al., 2020). Quercetin use at 1,000 mg daily, for 12 weeks, demonstrated a reduction in upper respiratory tract infection, total sick days and in severity, for both middle aged and older subjects (Heinz et al., 2010).

Quercetin has shown antimicrobial properties, including against airway-relevant bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, P. fluorescens, Aeromonas hydrophila, Staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermidis and the fungi Aspergillus niger (Wang et al., 2018, Abd-Allah et al., 2015).


Zinc is a potent antiviral compound and a key mineral for maintaining a healthy immune system.  Zinc is critical for maintaining membrane barrier structure and function. Its deficiency causes damage to epidermal cells and to the linings of the gastrointestinal and pulmonary tracts, which may facilitate the entrance of pathogens and noxious agents into the body (Shankar, et al., 1998).  Zinc deficiency is prevalent throughout many parts of society and leads to suppressed immunity and poor healing (Sandstead, 1991).  

Zinc is involved in the regulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses.  Zinc is also involved in the modulation of the proinflammatory response by targeting NFkB, a transcription factor that is the master regulator of proinflammatory responses. It is involved in controlling oxidative stress and regulating inflammatory cytokines.  In terms of adaptive immunity, zinc deficiency is responsible for thymic atrophy and subsequent T-cell lymphopenia as well as reduction of B cells, affecting antibody production (Wessels et al., 2017, Gammoh et al., 2017, Jarosz et al., 2017).  

Insufficient zinc levels in cells can lead to excessive inflammatory response, producing excess cytokines and chemokines such as TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-10 (Mayer et al., 2014). 

Covid-19 patients with poor outcomes have shown significantly lower zinc levels in comparison to healthy controls (Jothimani et al., 2020).



Defend Periodontal Oral Health

Periodontal, or gum disease is an infection of the gum, bone and surrounding structures of the teeth caused by the bacteria found in plaque. It is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and can cause halitosis (bad breath), bleeding gums and moving teeth.

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth.  In periodontal disease, plaque develops under the gums on tooth roots and breaks down the bones that support teeth.

Our oral cavities have their own microbiota which act as our first line of defence against invaders and bacteria which cause tooth decay and gum disease.

There are many environmental influences which can affect the health of our oral microbiota, reducing the number of "good bacteria."

In our Defend Periodontal Oral Health lozenges,we combine scientifically proven probiotics, produced in New Zealand and prebiotics from New Zealand gold kiwifruit for oral health.

Natural bioactives used in Defend


Blis K12® and BlisM18® Streptococcus salivarius, are colonising, immune-enhancing probiotics that have been shown in multiple clinical studies to prophylactically inhibit invaders in the oral, throat, and nasal cavities.

These probiotics have also been shown to induce an anti-inflammatory response and decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines.

The probiotics in EXhale® colonise the oral cavity and crowd out bad bacteria. This process is known as bacterial interference and leads to fewer respiratory tract infections.

Link to some scientific papers here, here and here.

GOLD KIWIFRUIT are a good source of calcium, a dental super mineral, which help neutralise damaging acids and bolster enamel defence.  Gold kiwifruit are also great sources of vitamin C, folate and dietary fibre.  

Peer reviewed clinical research has shown good bacteria in the mouth are bolstered by the presence of kiwifruit in oral lozenges.

Link to some scientific papers here and here.

Pulse Heart Restoration and Health

The heart and lungs work together to provide our body with oxygen rich blood.  There are two loops which describe how blood and oxygen move around our body:

  1. The Pulmonary Loop.

The right side of the heart picks up the oxygen-poor blood from the body and moves it to the lungs for cleaning and re-oxygenating.

  1. The Systemic Loop.

Once the blood is re-oxygenated, the left side of the heart moves the blood throughout the body, so that every part of the body receives oxygen.

We recommend watching this video from the Mayo Clinic for a great explanation of how our circulatory system functions link here.

Like your lungs, your heart is a muscle and needs exercising to maintain optimum strength.  Health professionals advise us to exercise enough to raise our heart beat 3-5 times a week.  As we improve aerobic fitness, our bodies can move more oxygen and blood into our muscles more efficiently.  Over time, this means we can move with less effort.

Natural bioactives used in Pulse

BLACKCURRANTS AND BOYSENBERRIES  Peer reviewed scientific research shows that New Zealand grown blackcurrants and boysenberries keep our hearts healthy and maintain optimal blood flow and oxygenation.  This is due to the high levels of anthocyanins which have anti-oxidant properties and help clean up damaging free radicals.  Anthocyanins also enhance oxygen transport within the circulatory system.

Read more here, here and reviewed here.

COENZYME Q10 also known as ubiquinone, is a naturally occurring and powerful antioxidant.  Coenzyme Q10 is in every cell in our bodies, predominantly occurring within the mitochondria (which are organelles which generate ATP - energy).  The heart has more mitochondria than any other organ in the human body, except for the liver.  

As we age, our levels of Coenzyme Q10 decline, so supplementing with the enzyme supports healthy organ and cellular function.  

The co-enzyme Q10 in our Pulse lozenges is attached to an amino acid to enhance absorption and maximise cardiovascular health.

Read more here, here and here.

QUERCETIN is a naturally derived flavonoid, extracted from Japonica sophora flower buds.  Quercetin is a zinc ionophore and supports zinc to cross cell membranes.  It is also a powerful antioxidant, acting as a cardio-protectant for heart health.

Read more here, here and here.

BLIS M18 PROBIOTICS represent a new generation of advanced oral probiotics which work by crowding out the bad bacteria - and colonising the mouth with good, healthy bacteria. 

Heart health and oral health are directly correlated.  Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease.  Poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the bloodstream, which can affect the heart valves.  Oral health may be particularly important if you have artificial heart valves.  

Read more here and here.

Insight Brain Health and Acuity

Brain Health is an emerging and growing field of research that encompasses neural development, plasticity, functioning, and recovery throughout life.

Good brain health is a state in which we have optimal cognitive, emotional, psychological and behavioural functioning to cope with life's situations.

There are numerous interconnected social and biological determinants of brain health, including genetics, diet and sleep quality, which play a role in brain development and brain health from pre-conception through to the end of life. 

BLACKCURRANTS research shows that supplementation with blackcurrant extract can help to increase human cognitive function and performance.

 Blackcurrants can also play an important role in slowing the cognitive decline associated with ageing and disorders including dementia.
Blackcurrants are high in a compound called cyclic glycine-proline (cGP), a neuropeptide, which plays a vital role in balancing the body’s main growth and brain function hormone: insulin-like growth-factor-1 (IGF-1).
IGF-1 is essential for human growth, neurological development, improving the brain signalling pathways and healing recovery.
A 2019 study found that stroke patients had lower levels of cGP in blood when compared to non-stroke participants. The imbalanced ratio of cGP/IGF-1 in the stroke patients meant their bodies did not release enough IGF-1 to maintain a healthy state and as a result they developed vascular risks such as hypertension and stroke.
Blackcurrants are rich in polyphenols, particularly anthocyanins, which have antioxidant properties which help to prevent and reduce the progression of diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, as well as supporting healthy bacteria in the gut.
The blackcurrants act by reducing the activity of a family of enzymes called monoamine oxidases, these regulate serotonin and dopamine concentrations in the brain which influence mood, cognition, stress and anxiety.


Read more here, here and reviewed here.

ASHWAGANDHA is grown in India, the Middle East and parts of Africa and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.  Daily consumption of Ashwagandha roots has been shown in modern science to reduce stress and enhance a sense of wellbeing.  

The identified neuroprotective phytoconstituents of Ashwagandha are sitoindosides VII–X, withaferin A, withanosides IV, withanols, withanolide A, withanolide B, anaferine, beta-sitosterol, withanolide D which influence key pharmacological effects in brain disorders including anxiety and various diseases, such as Parkinsons.

Read more here and reviewed here.

The Science of Lung Health

Free Downloadable Booklet on The Science of Lung Health and what you can do it Improve your Lung Health