Beta-1,3-glucan is obtained from purified yeast and stimulates the immune system by contacting a specific receptor on the surface of macrophages. When these cells are activated, it stimulates a cascade of events which enhances immunity.
Macrophages play an essential and pivotal role in the initiation and maintenance of the immune response. The activated macrophage can not only recognize and kill tumor cells non-specifically, they removing foreign debris, and produce essential cytokines that are able to stimulate the immune system in general and boost bone marrow production.
While mannan or polymannose from the aloe vera plant has some macrophage activating potential, it is slight compared to that of glucan. 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. Medicinal mushrooms also contain beta-glucan.
Originally, the cost for high purity Beta-1, 3 glucan was astronomical and out of the reach of most people. Competition and advances in extraction technology have reduced the cost of products shown to contain Beta glucan to a much more accessible level. However, the cost is still high for some products.
A number of women with recurrent malignant ulcers of the chest wall following mastectomy and radiation for breast cancer were treated with topical Beta-glucan. 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 skin.
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 production.
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 effect.
It also has an antifungal effect, shown in experiments with Candida albicans. Such a broad anti-infective spectrum of beta-1,3-glucan can be explained only by the fact that the immunostimulation produced by this unique material is non-specific.
Beta-1,3-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-1,3- 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 effects. Beta-1,3-glucan is not only orally effective, completely non-toxic and safe, but is one of the most potent stimulators of the immune response. Although derived from baker's yeast, properly extracted Beta-1, 3 glucan is a pure isolate and does not contain enough yeast proteins to cause a reaction in those allergic to yeast.
There are no absolutes for determining the exact amount of Beta glucan taken to maximize and potentiate your immune system. A suggested maintenance dose of 100mg - 200mg for average sized individuals is reasonable, with higher doses suggested when combating specific conditions. Your doctor should be consulted to evaluate individual medical conditions and corresponding dosages.