Beta 1-3, 1-6,Glucan:
Extraordinary Immune Support
Latest human research:
April 28th 2014 - the
most recent research confirms the safety,efficasy and immunomodulatory
effect of beta-glucan 1-3, 1-6 in humans -
Click here for the study.
A clinical human trial Published January 23rd 2013 in
the European Journal of Nutrition,
based on a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled,
multicentric study in healthy subjects,
1-3, 1-6 helps prevent colds, improves
symptoms and increases the body’s potential to defend against invading
Click for Study Details
Further References listed below.
A new nutritional product called
beta-1-3, 1-6-glucan is one of the most exciting things happening
today in the field of nutritional supplements.
Obtained from purified yeast, beta-1-3-glucan
has a long scientific history and a reference list including literally
hundreds of papers. Research originated in the 1940's when Pillemer
and his colleagues described a crude yeast cell wall preparation,
Zymosan. They reported that this material was able to stimulate
nonspecific immunity1. It was unknown at that time which
element of this composition, containing a relatively crude mixture of
proteins, lipids and polysaccharides, actually activated the immune
The answer came later in the 60's, when Dr.
Nicholas DiLuzio at Tulane University experimented with
beta-1-3-glucan2 . In the late 1980's Dr. Joyce Czop, at
Harvard University, described the mode of action of this material in
stimulating the immune system: there is a specific receptor for
beta-1-3-glucan on the surface of certain cells, called macrophages3
that when activated, stimulate a cascade of events turning the body
into "an arsenal of defense".
Macrophages play an essential and pivotal role
in the initiation and maintenance of the immune response. From an
evolutionary point of view, the macrophage is the oldest and most
consistently preserved immunologically competent cell known. Not only
humans and higher animals, but primitive invertebrates such as Hydra,
which have no other immunological effector cells, have macrophages. In
order to function immunologically, the macrophages must pass through a
state of activation which involves certain morphological changes but
also, most importantly, a whole sequence of metabolic changes which
result in the production of series of so-called cytokines which act as
internal regulators of the immune system. Activation can be initiated
by a variety of different stimuli, such as endotoxin, bacteria,
viruses or chemicals which can be too toxic or pathogenic to be
useful. Beta-1-3, 1-6-glucan is not only orally effective, completely
non-toxic and safe, but is one of the most potent stimulators of the
Considerable attention has been recently given
to Aloe Vera extract, which was found to carry one of the macrophage
activating polysaccharides, mannan or polymannose. While mannan has
some macrophage activating potential, it is very slight compared to
that of glucan4. There are several different glucans with
different levels of activity, the most active of which is
beta-1,3-glucan from the cell wall of yeast. A three dimensional model
of this molecule shows it to be a helix, and the research at Harvard
has shown that there exist, on the macrophage cell membrane, receptors
for a small number of residues, approximately seven5 . The
fact that such a small number of glucose units can activate this
receptor is very remarkable. What is more remarkable still, is that
there should be a specific receptor for this sort of polysaccharide
chain on the surface of the most ancient sugar cell in the immune
There is now evidence to show that glucan is, from an
evolutionary point of view, the most widely and most commonly observed
macrophage activator in nature6. The same
enhancing mechanisms have been found in all branches of the animal,
bird, fish and plant kingdoms7,8.
The activated macrophages is a veritable
powerhouse in terms of activity. Not only can a macrophage recognize
and kill tumor cells non-specifically, as well as removing foreign
debris, but it can produce a number of essential cytokines that are
able to stimulate the immune system in general and boost bone marrow
production. Individuals, who by reason of age and other factors, such
as chronic infection or poor nutrition, have a compromised immune
defense system, are liable to all of the following problems:
arthritis, reduced wound healing capacity, reduced bone marrow
proliferation with resulting lowered white cell counts and anemia,
increased incidence of cancers, increased incidence of all kinds of
viral, fungal, and bacterial infection. It is well understood that one
of the main elements of the aging process is a lowering of
effectiveness of the immune function9,56,57 : all the
problems mentioned above occur in old age. In addition, during
ordinary living, the chances that the immune system is impaired may be
Not only environmental influences like UV
radiation, electro-magnetic fields, food preservatives and antibiotics
can cause temporary immunosuppression but also stress and heavy
physical exercises have these negative effects. It is well-documented
that after heavy exercise, generally healthy athletes frequently
suffer from influenza or pneumonia because of the depressive effect on
their immune system10. The same immunosuppression
is observed in people under physical or emotional stress and in
patients with stress-related diseases, such as coronary disease. Under
these influences the number of macrophages available are reduced and
unable to participate in the immune cascade which causes even deeper
immunosuppression. Beta-1-3 1-6-glucan has been proven to both stimulate
and activate macrophage cells11 which will counter these
In the 1970's after extensive studies in
animals, human experiments with glucan began. Dr. Peter Mansell
reported that after injection of glucan into subcutaneous nodules of
malignant melanoma they resolved within a few days. When the biopsy of
the injection sites were done no evidence of melanoma was found, just
a collection of obviously activated macrophages12.
A follow up of that study was to treat a number
of women with recurrent malignant ulcers of the chest wall following
mastectomy and radiation for breast cancer. After an application of
glucan in a vehicle these normally very indolent ulcers healed
completely. Subsequently, the same material had been used in the
therapy of large pressure ulcers at the New Orleans Charity Hospital
with complete resolution of the ulcers, some of which went down to the
sacrum. An unexpected benefit was the complete lack of infection and
the rapidity of the reappearance of normal skin13.
The first human study on this specific glucan's
systemic effect was done in the mid1980's on advanced HIV infection.
Even in these deeply immunologically deficient individuals, an
increase in serum cytokines IL-1, IL-2 and Interferon was measured14.
Results of another clinical trial showed significant mortality
decrease from infectious complications in severe trauma patients15.
At that time a crude preparation containing
beta-glucan was already registered in Eastern Europe for injection in
patients for treatment of the effects of bone marrow suppression from
radiation or chemotherapy. In contrast to the crude mixture called
Zymosan, beta-1,3-glucan, a substance that is highly purified and
active when taken by mouth, is effective in very small dosages11.
One of the most remarkable oral studies with
beta-1,3-glucan was done at the US Armed Forces Radiobiology
Institute. In a well controlled study, 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
radiation16. Dr. Myra Patchen discovered that
beta-glucan is also a free radical scavenger. It is able to protect
blood macrophages from free radical attack during and after the
radiation allowing these cells to continue to carry their important
functions in the irradiated body and release factors important to the
restoration of normal bone marrow production17.
In the light of what we know about free radicals
today and their potential to accelerate aging, cause cancer and other
diseases, this particular effect of beta-1,3-glucan is especially
important. Free-radical scavenging assays were repeated in different
models and which confirmed the antioxidant effect18.
Recent experiments completed at Baylor College
of Medicine in the laboratory of Professor Phil Wyde also prove the
oral effectiveness of beta-1,3-glucan to stimulate nonspecific
immunity11. Peritoneal macrophages doubled their phagocytic
activity in mice fed with beta-1,3-glucan. This systemic effect of
oral application of beta-1,3-glucan is comparable to that achieved
using injections, which makes this material a unique and very valuable
When beta-1,3-glucan was added to antibiotic
regime in animals challenged with different bacterial (Staphylococcus
aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli and others) and viral
(Herpes virus) pathogens, a reduced amount of antibiotics or
antivirals was needed to cope with the infection11. It also
has an antifungal effect, shown in experiments with Candida albicans11.
Such a broad anti-infective spectrum of beta-glucan can be
explained only by the fact that the immunostimulation produced by this
unique material is non-specific.
Continuing research with oral application of
beta-1-3-1-6 glucan revealed that it increases the effectiveness of other
oral cholesterol-reducing agents, such as Niacin and Lopid19.
Interestingly, recent research has also demonstrated the anti-diabetic
effect of IL-1 cytokine, which increases insulin production resulting
in lowering of blood glucose level20. Macrophages are the
main source of IL-1 in the body and it's production can be boosted by
beta-1,3-glucan supplementation. Mindful of the extremely high rate of
atherosclerotic complications and the extraordinary requirement for
antioxidants in diabetic patients, beta-1,3-glucan is an obvious
adjuvant for an improved lifestyle in these conditions.
As is repeatedly shown in the multitude of
studies concerning the activity of beta glucan as an immune
stimulator, or perhaps more descriptive, a "biological defense
modifier", there are enormous benefits to be obtained by the use of
beta-1,3-glucan as a nutritional supplement. The aging process has
been defined as "the sum total of life's physical embarrassment due to
adverse conditions"; in this regard, beta-1-3-glucan may well be the
first and only true anti-aging supplement. It is defensive to
negative events such as infection, tumors and radiation damage and
adjunctive to the positive effects of antioxidants, lipid balance
enhancers, antibiotics and other therapeutics. The result is
improved general health which means more enjoyment of life, less
infirmities, less time and money required for medical needs and
potentially dramatic savings in Medicare and other health related
expenditures over time.
Beta-1-3,1-6-glucan is effective in all mammals as
it is in fish and birds. It successfully prevents vibriosis,
yersiniosis and furunculosis in Crustacea when it is added to the feed7,21,22.
The new devastation of the shrimp farm, the Taura Syndrome, which has
been recently identified as viral disease, causes high mortality with
survival of less than 20% of the shrimp farm population. Feeding
shrimp with beta-1,3-glucan increases their survival rate up to 90%23.
Beta-1-3, 1-6-glucan basically is a highly purified
form of a food product. Technically it is a polysaccharide molecule
completely made with glucose. Glucose is a simple saccharide that the
body transforms to energy as ATP and stores in muscles, liver and
other tissues in a form of glycogen. Beta-glucan is different
from energy-storing glucose-containing polysaccharides because the
connection between the glucose units is different, more specifically,
it is the beta-1,3-linkage, which makes this compound so unique. It is
Generally Recognized As Safe (category GRAS according to FDA) and has
no toxicity or side effects24.
To summarize, beta-1-3, 1-6-glucan is a safe and very
potent nutritional supplement with a systemic effect that can be
described as non-specific immune stimulation combined with it's
free-radical scavenging activity. Some of the biological events
illustrating this stimulation are:
Activation of macrophages, expressing
increased nonspecific phagocytic ability allowing macrophages to
destroy pathogens more efficiently, frequently preventing disease.
Release of important cytokines, such
as IL-1, IL-2 among others, initiating immune cascade and triggering
other cell lines, such as T-cells. Release of colony-stimulating
factors, boosting bone marrow production.
Cholesterol-reduction through cell
activation and anti-oxidant activity.
Groups of people that are considered to benefit
from beta-1-3, 1-6-glucan supplementation:
People with impaired immunity from any cause including but not
restricted to HIV infection; people with high occurrence of infectious
diseases, tumors and undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy; age 40+
when the natural aging process starts to slow down immune reactivity,
geriatric patients, and others with a compromised immune response.
People that are possibly can be affected by extra free-radical
production caused by external sources: ones frequently exposed to
low-dose radiation, including sun light, other types of exposures such
electromagnetic fields; lack of raw fruits and vegetables in diet and
eating preserved food. Extra free-radicals can also be a result of a
chronic disease such diabetes or chronic inflammation.
People who exercise excessively, professional and amateur athletes as
well as people who workout intensively and also those under physical
or emotional stress who have a temporary immune deficiency which can
result in infection. Beta-1,3-glucan will provide them with
nonspecific immunostimulation that can increase their resistance to
People with high risk of atherosclerosis should definitely add
beta-1,3-glucan to their diet whether they are taking
cholesterol-reducing drugs or not. Macrophage activation will not only
help to draw extra cholesterol from the blood but it also can prevent
further plaque formation on the arterial walls and phagocytize
existing plaque which is recognized as a foreign body.
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