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What is Beta-Glucans?

Natural sources of beta-glucans include fungal cell walls, seaweed, oats, and barley. Although collectively termed beta-glucans, variations in composition exist as a consequence of being derived from different natural sources, as well as batch variations due to differing growing conditions. Synthetic substances are being developed to overcome such variations, but until these become widely available, information for beta-glucan depends on the source; see individual monographs for maitake (grifola) seaweed, and oats.

Scientific Name(s)

Beta-1,3-glucan, beta-1,3/1,6-glycan

Common Name(s)

Beta glycans also are known as beta-glucans.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Beta-glucans have been used in traditional medicine, especially in Japan, and have been extensively studied for many years, particularly for their potential as immunomodulators. Traditional Chinese and Asian medicines extensively utilize medicinal mushrooms as a source of beta-glucan, while in the United States, early research focused on the immunomodulatory effects of zymosan derived from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

General uses

Reviews providing an overview of the beta-glucans are available, focusing largely on preventative roles in cancer and diseases related to the cardiovascular and immune systems. For more detailed information, see the individual monographs for the different beta-glucans sources (maitake [grifola], seaweed, and oats).

What is the recommended dosage?

See individual monographs for specific dosing recommendations.


See individual monographs for specific information.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. See individual monographs for specific information.


See individual monographs for specific interactions.

Side Effects

See individual monographs for specific adverse events.


See individual monographs for specific toxicology information.


1. Beta Glucans. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; May 2011.

More about beta glycans

Professional resources

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.