Ever wonder why medical doctors recommend eating oatmeal to prevent cardiovascular disease?
It’s all about heart healthy soluble fiber.
Found in barley, beans, fruits, lentils, oat bran, and peas soluble fiber slows digestion and has been clinically shown to lower cholesterol.
And what’s the best source of heart healthy soluble fiber that you can get?
Beta Glucan Medical Uses & Natural Sources
Most people have never heard of beta glucans before, yet there are nearly 17,000 peer-reviewed articles discussing them in scientific journals. Actually, it is truly a wonder that they haven’t hit “mainstream” yet as a supplement because their health benefits are absolutely superb.
Belonging to a group of physiologically active compounds called biological response modifiers, beta glucans are naturally occurring sugars that act as highly conserved structural components of cell walls in, fungi, seaweed, and yeast. (1)
They contain pronounced “immunomodulating activity” and increase our “immune defense by activating complement system, enhancing macrophages and natural killer cell function.” (2)
In laymen’s terms, this means that they can enhance your immune response like no other, and are used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes: (1)
- Common colds/flus
- Crohn’s disease
- Ear infections
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel disease
- Liver problems
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Physical and emotional stress
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Viral infections (HPV, HIV/AIDS, and others)
Glucans have also been found to be very effective at healing skin conditions such as bedsores, dermatitis, diabetic ulcers, eczema, wounds, radiation burns, and even wrinkles.
Their effect on cancer is particularly interesting because they have been shown clinically to prevent metastasis through a number of ways: (2)
- Cytotoxicity – By stimulating white blood cells (macrophages & natural killer cells) to stop tumor growth.
- Anti-angiogenesis – Preventing cancer cells from developing the network of blood vessels that is required to feed tumors.
- Treatment Restoration – Reversing the damage done by chemo and radiation therapies, glucans restore bone marrow injury by stimulating red blood cell production.
Fascinatingly, “In contrast to microorganisms, tumor cells, as well as other host cells, lack beta glucan as a surface component.” This may be one reason why cancer is so vulnerable to beta glucan supplementation. (2)
With that said, few people understand why and how they work. Czech researchers put it best:
“Despite almost 150 years of research, the exact mechanisms of their action remain unclear. (3)
Recently more information about them has added to the mystery: The number and type of glucans seem limitless. In the words of University of Louisville, Department of Pathology, “The number of individual glucans is almost as great as the number of sources used for their isolation.”
On the flip side, there are indeed a very limited number of naturally occurring sources that include:
- Edible mushrooms (Shitake, Maitake, Wood cauliflower, and snow mushrooms)
- Chi-chian leaves
Beta-1, 3D Glucan
Of all the beta glucans that have been studied, Beta-1, 3D seems to hold the most health potential for individuals who supplement with it.
Over 50 years of research from prestigious universities around the world document its health prowess Beta-1, 3D Glucan has been shown to boost the immune system to provide support and balance.
Medical doctors are even using (1–3)-β-D glucan as a non-invasive way to determine if patients have been affected with fungal infections. (4) It is unlike other immune supplements that simply stimulate or alter the immune response in unnatural ways.
Possible Side Effects
In all seriousness, the majority of clinical trials conducted on animals and humans have not uncovered any adverse effects related to taking beta glucans whatsoever.
For example, a 13-week clinical trial uncovered that when a maximum deliverable oral dose was administered to rats, it was given with no harmful effects measured whatsoever.
When people take them orally, they are well tolerated and are considered by the FDA to be generally regarded as safe (GRAS).
It has been reported, however, that when administered intravenously, “Beta-glucans may cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, hives, flushing, rash, high or low blood pressure, or excessive urination.” Intravenous administration has also been associated with lung inflammation.
Two Important Side Notes
First and foremost, always be sure to check first with your healthcare provider before taking immune-boosting supplements.
Various sources stress the importance that glucans are so effective at enhancing immune function that they may interfere with immune-suppressing drugs that autoimmune patients regularly take. (1)
If you were thinking of purchasing Beta-1, 3D Glucan for a family member or yourself, make sure the following immune suppressing drugs are not being taken:
- Azathioprine (Imuran)
- Basiliximab (Simulect)
- Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
- Daclizumab (Zenapax)
- Muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3)
- Mycophenolate (CellCept)
- Tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf)
- Sirolimus (Rapamune)
- Prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone)
- Corticosteroids (glucocorticoids) and others.
Secondly, not all glucan products on the market are created equal and it is absolutely vital to steer away from synthetic varieties with harmful fillers. An article published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology stresses this point:
“In addition, variations in β-glucan structure and composition are highly dependent on the particular method by which a β-glucan preparation is processed or manufactured, and these variations can have a significant impact on their respective immune stimulatory activity an effect that also could lead to significant toxicity when crude preparations are used therapeutically.”
Like any supplement, be sure to purchase Beta-1, 3D Glucan from a trusted source and under the guidance of your natural health care provider.