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Beta-glucan

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 1-3,1-6-Beta-glucan, (1-->3)-beta-D-glucan, 1,3-beta-D-glucan, (1,3)-beta-D-glucan, 1,3-beta-glucan, 1,3-beta-glucans, (1-6,1-3)-beta-glucan, 7alpha-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one, amylodextrins, baker's yeast, barley, Barley Balance®, beta glycans, beta-(1-3),(1-6)-D-glucan, beta-1,3/1,6-glucan, beta-1,3-D-glucan, beta-1,3-glucan, beta-1,3-glucans, beta-1-6,1,3-beta-glucan, beta-(1,6) branched beta-(1,3)-glucan, beta-glucan collagen (BGC) matrix, beta-glucanase, beta-glucans, beta-glucosidase, beta-glucuronsidase, beta-glycans, Betafectin®, Biointo, carbossimetyl beta glucan, chitin-glucan, curdlan, curdlan sulfates, d-fraction, G. grandosa, grifolan (GRN), griton-d(r) (GD), Glucagel™, gluco polysaccharide, Imunoglukan®, lentinan, Lentinex®, MacroForce plus IP6, maitake mushroom, Nutrim®-OB, oat beta-glucan, oat fiber, oat fibre, oat gum, OatVantage®, PGG glucan, PGG-glucan, Plantago major L., pleuran, poly-[1-6]-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-[1-3]-beta-D-glucopyranose, poly-[1-6]--D-glucopyranosyl-[1-3]--D-glucopyranose glucan, Poria cocos sclerotium, Primaliv museli, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, schizophyllan (SPG), Sparassis crispa, SSG, Wellmune WGP®, WPG®3-6, yeast-derived beta-glucan, yeast extract.
  • Note: Additional Natural Standard monographs are available for barley, brewer's yeast, maitake mushroom, oats, Saccharomyces boulardii, salep, and shiitake mushroom.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber derived from the cell walls of algae, bacteria, fungi, yeast, and plants. As a type of dietary fiber, it constitutes an edible plant part that is resistant to digestion and intestinal absorption (1). The beta-glucan found in yeast and mushrooms contain 1,3-glucan linkages and occasionally 1,6 linkages, whereas the beta-glucan from grains (e.g., oats and barley) contain 1,3 and 1,4 linkages (2;3). Yeast-derived beta-1,3/1,6-glucan purportedly has greater biological activity than the 1,3/1,4 counterparts.
  • Concentrated yeast-derived beta-glucan is more easily incorporated into food products than grain beta-glucan, which is found in cereal grains like oat and barely. Yeast-derived beta-glucan is also more palatable than oat beta-glucan because it is not soluble in water and does not become viscous in water as beta-glucan from oats does. However, oat beta-glucan may have a higher therapeutic benefit potential. Purified yeast beta-glucan is more bioavailable than beta-glucan in native form.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One way to reduce the risk of developing the disease is to lower serum cholesterol levels by making dietary changes. In addition to reducing intake of total fat, saturated fat, and dietary cholesterol, serum cholesterol can be further reduced by adding fiber, especially from sources rich in beta-glucan. Usually, several servings daily of these products are required to meet the claim by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Beta-glucan is commonly used for its cholesterol-lowering effects, with strong supportive evidence (4;5;6;7;8;9;10;11;12;13;14;15;16;17;18;19;20;21;22;23;24;25;26;27;28;29).
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Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.