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Beta 1,3 Glucan: an Immune Boosting Secret

by Ofelia Sierra

Considering the raise in pollutants, illnesses and stress in the world, it is wise to familiarize oneself with the immune-boosting properties of Beta 1, 3 glucan. The amount of scientific and clinical research available for this unique polysaccharide is astonishing, as it has been shown to defy and defeat microorganisms including viruses, protect from radiation therapy, and reduce the size of tumors.  Isolated nearly fifty years ago from an immune-stimulating drug, Beta 1,3 Glucan is popularly derived from the baker’s yeast, and has no known side effects.

Beta 1,3-D glucans are being referred to as biological response modifiers because of their ability to activate the immune system.(1)  Their receptors seem to latch on to macrophages and other white blood cells which trigger the recognition of “non-self” hazards in the body, which then become engulfed and destroyed by the macrophages.  Found in the cell walls of many plants, grains, yeast, and medicinal mushrooms, beta glucan is a free radical scavenger. This is significant for humans, as this helps to ensure a return to balance and wellness in a wide variety of illnesses and diseases.

For example, in a controlled study done at the US Armed Forces Radiobiology Institute, 70% of rats given a lethal dose of radiation were completely protected from radiation effects when given a dose of yeast beta glucan by mouth after the radiation exposure. It is able to protect blood macrophages from free radical attack during and after the radiation allowing these cells to continue to function in the irradiated body and release factors important to the restoration of normal bone marrow production. (2,3) 

Beta 1,3 glucans have been approved for their adjunct use with chemotherapy in Japan for over 20 years.  The macrophage is enhanced to more ably and rapidly remove the toxic debris created by radiation and chemotherapy in the body, thus in many cases potentially reducing negative side effects such as nausea, hair loss, pallor, fatigue, inability to sleep and skin radiation injury. 

One study reveals that  (4) “…coincubation of particulate glucan with diverse populations of normal or tumor cells in vitro indicated that glucan exerted a direct cytostatic [chemical killing] effect on sarcoma and melanoma cells and, in contrast, had a proliferative effect [promotes production] on normal spleen and bone marrow cells.”

Aside from it's potential role on the immune system, beta glucan is the key factor for the cholesterol-lowering effect of oat bran. (5,6,7,8,9) As with other soluble-fiber components, the binding of cholesterol by beta glucan and the resulting elimination of these molecules via the feces helps reduce blood cholesterol.(10,11,12) Results from a number of double-blind trials with either oat- or yeast-derived beta-glucan indicate typical reductions, after at least four weeks of use, of approximately 10% for total cholesterol and 8% for LDL ("bad") cholesterol, with elevations in HDL ("good") cholesterol ranging from zero to 16%.(13,14,15,16,17)

In this increasingly fast-paced world, it is critical to be informed of the simple and low-cost supplements one can take to help form a strong defense to harmful radicals, microorganisms and toxins.  Beta 1, 3 glucan is one thing that is good for anybody that is susceptible to infectious disease, allergies, slow in their healing, aging, at risk of cardiovascular disease, undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, or has poor nutrition.

(1) Miura, NN; Ohno N, Aketagawa J, Tamura H, Tanaka S, Yadomae T (January 1996). "Blood clearance of (1-->3)-beta-D-glucan in MRL lpr/lpr mice". FEMS immunology and medical microbiology (England: Blackwell Publishing) 13 (1): 51–57. ISSN 0928-8244. PMID 8821398

(2) Patchen M: Radioprotective effect of Oral Administration of NSC-24™. 1989. ImmuDyne, Inc. Unpublished.

(3) Patchen ML, D'Alesandro MM, Brook I, Blakely WF, McVittie TJ: Glucan: mechanisms involved in its "radioprotective" effect.. J Leuc Biol 1987; 42: 95-105.

(4) Cancer – Sarcoma and Melanoma: Williams DL, et al, “Therapeutic efficacy of glucan in a murine model of hepatic metastatic disease,” Hepatology 5(2):198-206. Mar 1985.*  

(5) Bell S, Goldman VM, Bistrian BR, et al. Effect of beta-glucan from oats and yeast on serum lipids. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 1999;39:189-202

(6) Bell S, Goldman VM, Bistrian BR, et al. Effect of beta-glucan from oats and yeast on serum lipids. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 1999;39:189-202

(7) Behall KM, Scholfield DJ, Hallfrisch J. Effect of beta-glucan level in oat fiber extracts on blood lipids in men and women. J Am Coll Nutr 1997;16:46-51.

(8) Braaten JT, Wood PJ, Scott FW, et al. Oat beta-glucan reduces blood cholesterol concentration in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 1994;48:465-74.

(9) Davidson MH, Dugan LD, Burns JH, et al. The hypocholesterolemic effects of beta-glucan in oatmeal and oat bran. A dose-controlled study. JAMA 1991;265:1833-9.

(10) Wood PJ. Physicochemical properties and physiological effects of the (1----3)(1----4)-beta-D-glucan from oats. Adv Exp Med Biol 1990;270:119-27.

(11) Uusitupa MI, Miettinen TA, Sarkkinen ES, et al. Lathosterol and other non-cholesterol sterols during treatment of hypercholesterolaemia with beta-glucan-rich oat bran. Eur J Clin Nutr 1997;51:607-11.

(12) Lia A, Hallmans G, Sandberg AS, et al. Oat beta-glucan increases bile acid excretion and a fiber-rich barley fraction increases cholesterol excretion in ileostomy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;62:1245-51.

(13) Bell S, Goldman VM, Bistrian BR, et al. Effect of beta-glucan from oats and yeast on serum lipids. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 1999;39:189-202

(14) Nicolosi R, Bell SJ, Bistrian BR, et al. Plasma lipid changes after supplementation with beta-glucan fiber from yeast. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70:208-12.

(15) Behall KM, Scholfield DJ, Hallfrisch J. Effect of beta-glucan level in oat fiber extracts on blood lipids in men and women. J Am Coll Nutr 1997;16:46-51.

(16) Braaten JT, Wood PJ, Scott FW, et al. Oat beta-glucan reduces blood cholesterol concentration in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 1994;48:465-74.

(17) Uusitupa MI, Ruuskanen E, Makinen E, et al. A controlled study on the effect of beta-glucan-rich oat bran on serum lipids in hypercholesterolemic subjects: relation to apolipoprotein E phenotype. J Am Coll Nutr 1992;11:651-9.

 

 

This article was published on 05/12/2009 11:29.
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