Beta Glucan?

Beta glucan is a polysaccharide (i.e. a chain of glucose molecules) that is found in such foods as oats, barley, mushrooms, and yeasts. For decades scientists have known beta glucan as a food constituent, and they knew it was abundant in the food products just mentioned. It has been extremely difficult to extract and purify however. Beta glucan derived

human immune system

from oat bran contains about 7 percent beta glucan, and is inexpensive, but only good as a food. It is too weak to use as a  supplement or in a therapeutic cream.

From a well documented report by Roger Mason, research chemist, it wasn’t until the l980’s that commercial beta glucan creams  started appearing. Finally,  technology succeeded in producing less expensive beta glucan from  brewers yeast (after the beer was brewed), and produced 200mg oral capsules that were biologically effective. Powerful 1% topical creams also appeared. Additionally it was found that beta glucan could be extracted from brewers yeast that was 80% pure making it available for medicinal use.

While there remains many sources of beta glucan, all beta gulcan IS NOT the same. The market is flooded with products of varying strengths of purity and of different product make up. The important factor with medicinal grade beta glucan is that it’s chemical make-up needs to be true 1,3-D-beta glucan. This means it is a basic “1,3” position on the glucose chain. Yeast and mushroom glucans are 1,3/1,6 glucans, and basically have the same biological benefits.

This was proven quite conclusively in 1997 at the University of Hamburg in Germany (Carbohydrate Research v 297). Dr. Kulicke and his cohorts concluded, “All glucans investigated, regardless of molar mass and solution structure, stimulate the investigated immuno-logical measures more than a commercially available biomedical drug used for comparison”. They discovered this after studying human blood monocytes for, “tumor necrosis factor alpha release activity”. This basically means they measured real human blood to see how the glucans would help strengthen immune qualities and resist infection.

This is important when looking at glucan’s use as a biological response modifier. We have large white blood cells called “macrophages” (i.e. “great eaters”), such as phagocytes, neutrophils, and other such cells found in all the tissues of our bodies. They protect the body from “invaders” and devour bacteria, foreign cells, dead and dying cells, mutated cells, and other negative invaders in our bloodstream. They are the most important cells in our immune system and are activated by chemical signals from cytokines. When you take a beta glucan supplement these immune cells are more active, more powerful and effective in attacking and consuming what doesn’t belong in our systems.

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