Beta-GlucanSkip to the navigation
Beta-glucan is a fiber-type complex sugar (polysaccharide) derived from the cell wall of baker’s yeast, oat and barley fiber, and many medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake. In their natural states, yeast and mushrooms contain a mixture of beta-1,3-glucan and beta-1,6-glucan. Oats and barley contain a mixture of beta-1,3-glucan and beta-1,4-glucan. In addition to purified beta-1,3-glucan from these sources, you may see products listed as beta-1,3/1,6-glucan in the case of yeast-derived products and as beta-1,3/1,4-glucan when derived from oats. Similar (if not identical) properties have been shown for beta-glucan-rich extracts and purified beta-glucan derived from oats, baker’s yeast, and mushrooms.
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1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
2,900 to 15,000 mg daily
Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fiber that has been shown to lower total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fiber molecule derived from the cell wall of baker’s yeast, oats and barley, and many medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake. Beta-glucan is the key factor for the cholesterol-lowering effect of oat bran. As with other soluble-fiber components, the binding of cholesterol (and bile acids) by beta-glucan and the resulting elimination of these substances in the feces is very helpful for reducing blood cholesterol. 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%. For lowering cholesterol levels, the amount of beta-glucan used has ranged from 2,900 to 15,000 mg per day.
Liver Cirrhosis (Inulin, Pectin, Resistant Starch)
10 grams total fermentable fiber daily
In a study of people with cirrhosis, supplementing with fermentable fiber (containing equal parts of beta-glucan, inulin, pectin, and resistant starch) improved liver and brain function.
In a study of people with cirrhosis, supplementing with 10 grams of fermentable fiber per day (containing equal parts of beta-glucan, inulin, pectin, and resistant starch) for 30 days resulted in an improvement in liver function. The impaired brain function that often accompanies cirrhosis of the liver (hepatic encephalopathy) also improved.
Refer to label instructions
Beta-glucan activates white blood cells, which in turn can recognize and kill tumor cells, correct oxidative damage, and speed up recovery of damaged tissue.
Beta-glucan is a fiber-type polysaccharide (complex sugar) derived from the cell wall of baker’s yeast, oat and barley fiber, and many medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake. Numerous experimental studies in test tubes and animals have shown beta-glucan to activate white blood cells. In fact, there have been hundreds of research papers on beta-glucan since the 1960s. The research indicates that beta-1,3-glucan, in particular, is very effective at activating white blood cells known as macrophages and neutrophils. A beta-glucan–activated macrophage or neutrophil can recognize and kill tumor cells, remove cellular debris resulting from oxidative damage, speed up recovery of damaged tissue, and further activate other components of the immune system. Although the research in test tube and animal studies is promising, many questions remain about the effectiveness of beta-glucan as an oral supplement to enhance immune function in humans. Controlled trials are necessary to determine whether humans can benefit from beta-glucan, and in what amounts oral beta-glucan must be taken from meaningful effects.
How It Works
How to Use It
For lowering cholesterol levels, the amount of beta-glucan used in clinical trials has ranged from 2,900 to 15,000 mg per day. For enhancing immune function, an effective amount has not yet been determined due to the lack of studies in this application. However, manufacturers of beta-glucan products usually recommend between 50 and 1,000 mg daily (to be taken on an empty stomach), although some products contain as much as 500 mg per capsule.
Where to Find It
Beta-glucan is found in the cell walls of many yeast and cereal fibers, such as oats, wheat, and barley. As a dietary supplement, beta-glucan is available in liquid form as well as in capsules and tablets.
Because beta-glucan is not an essential nutrient, deficiencies do not occur.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
Last Review: 03-24-2015
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