What is Beta-Glucan (1-3),(1-6)
are now a number of beta-glucan products on the market and
increasingly questions are being asked about what type to take.
There is certainly a degree of
confusion regarding various types of soluble and oral products and
their uses, as well as the purity or linkage in various products.
The general rule is that oral is best -
because this is how beta-glucans were absorbed when they were
available in our natural diet and, provided there is a reasonable
proportion of undamaged beta-glucan in the product, then quantity is
the issue not purity.
Here is an explanation:
Beta-Glucan 1-3, 1-6 is a specific Beta-Glucan that has an immuno-modulatory
effect (awakens and enhances an immune response) because, in simple
terms, it tags receptors on immune response cells such as Macrophages
and Langerhans cells.
These cells then rally the innate immune system
to maximise any defense against pathogens and viruses.
Elsewhere on this site are details of the significant amount of
scientific research and testing that has taken place with beta-glucan
but one area that is less well understood is the effect that different
types of beta-glucan 1-3, 1-6 can have. The areas of uncertainty relate
to solubility and purification.
dry matter derived from
(bakers or brewers yeast) it is not normally possible to dissolve this
in liquid. Apparently however solutions have been created in America
and Japan - the latter using beta-glucan from various types of
(credited with immune benefits by ancient oriental medicine
prescriptions). These were developed as injectables but are generally
accepted as being less effective than most types of oral beta-glucan
taken as a tablet or capsule.
Yeast is not very effective as an immuno modulator as it needs to be
taken in significant quantities for any beta-glucan 1-3, 1-6 to be
available. As can be seen from the diagram above the beta glucan is
sealed in the husk of the yeast so only broken yeast cells would yield
beta-glucan in nature.
yeast needs to be purified - firstly to remove all the yeast. Proper
beta-glucan 1-3, 1-6 will have no yeast and accordingly is entirely
suitable for people prone to yeast allergies. See the picture left of
purified yeast husks.
This is a critical process as over purification can damage the
receptors on the beta-glucan leaving only an ineffective glucose
suspension. Tests have shown in vitro that highly purified beta-glucan
can be less effective than beta-glucan that has more of the mannan
(polymannose) present (http://www.beta-glucan.co.uk/comparison.htm)
Linkage* is the amount of beta-glucan 1-3,1-6 that has been separated
from the mannan (polymannose) and 75 - 80% is about the maximum
linkage it is possible to extract without damaging the receptors and
diminishing the immunological benefits. (* The content that is
completely beta-glucan 1-3, 1-6; in other words the purity).
Tests have shown that beta-glucan with linkage of 45% or so is
particularly effective; this is probably due to the benefits of the
mannan as well as the undamaged beta-glucan 1-3,1-6. Some
practitioners insist that higher yield beta-glucans are best when used
in conjunction with other therapies and at very high doses.
the event medium linkage beta-glucans seem prudent for daily use and
sustained high doses. High linkage may be useful for intensive
treatment in combination with other therapies that are damaging to the
There is no evidence that lower linkages are less effective than a
comparable volume of high linkage beta-glucan - in fact the contrary
could be the case.