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Beta-Glucan

Common Name(s): Beta-1,3-glucan, Beta-1,6-glucan, Beta-glucans

Clinical Overview

Use

Reviews providing an overview of the beta-glucans focus largely on preventive roles in cancer and diseases related to the cardiovascular and immune systems. For more detailed information, see the individual monographs for the beta-glucan sources (Brewer's Yeast, Lentinan [shiitake], Maitake [grifola], Seaweed, Oats, and Barley).

Dosing

See individual monographs for dosing recommendations for the specific beta-glucan sources.

Contraindications

See individual monographs for information related to the specific beta-glucan sources.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. See individual monographs for information related to the specific beta-glucan sources.

Interactions

See individual monographs for interactions related to the specific beta-glucan sources.

Adverse Reactions

Inhalation of beta-glucan particulate matter has been shown to have acute negative effects (ie, increases) on blood pressure.

See individual monographs for adverse events related to the specific beta-glucan sources.

Toxicology

See individual monographs for toxicology information related to the specific beta-glucan sources.

Source

Natural sources of beta-glucans include fungal cell walls, seaweed, oats, and barley. Although collectively termed beta-glucans, variations in composition exist because of derivation from different natural sources; batch variations also occur due to differing growth conditions. Synthetic substances are being developed to overcome such variations, but until these become widely available, information for beta-glucans depends on the source: See Brewer's Yeast, Lentinan (shiitake), Maitake (grifola), Seaweed, Oats, and Barley individual monographs.Kim 2006, Laroche 2007, Novak 2009

History

Beta-glucans have been used in traditional medicine, especially in Japan, and have been studied for many years, particularly for their potential use as immunomodulators. Traditional Chinese and Asian medicines used 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.Novak 2009

Chemistry

Beta-glucans are carbohydrates; specifically, they are polymers of glucose units, either linear (with beta-1,3-glycosidic linkages) or branched with side-chains (with beta-1,6-glycosidic linkages). Beta-glucans from mushrooms and the cell wall of baker's yeast consist of D-glucose with beta-1,3 linkages and some beta-1,6 side branches, whereas the composition of cereal beta-glucan are unbranched and include beta-1,3 and beta-1,4-glycosidic linkages.Laroche 2007, Nieman 2008, Novak 2009

Uses and Pharmacology

Reviews provide an overview of the beta-glucansChen 2007, Chen 2008, Mantovani 2008, Novak 2008, Novak 2009, Volman 2008 as well as meta-analyses of studies using cereal beta-glucan in the modification of lipids and lentinan in gastric cancer.Haggård 2013, Kelly 2007, Oba 2009, Talati 2009 Clinical trials and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials have assessed the effects of beta-glucan extract on glycemic control and insulin sensitivity,He 2016 as well as beta-glucan's antimicrobial, wound healing, and immunomodulatory activities.Garcia 2014, Koray 2009, Yenidogan 2014 Beta-glucan supplementation as an adjuvant to chemotherapy in patients with a variety of advanced malignancies has been well tolerated and may have beneficial effects; further studies are needed.Weitberg 2008

Note: When the source of the beta-glucan extract used was not clearly defined for a study, data were included in this monograph. For more detailed, source-specific study information, see the individual monographs for the beta-glucan sources (Brewer's Yeast, Lentinan [shiitake], Maitake [grifola], Seaweed, Oats, and Barley).

Antimicrobial activity

Clinical data

In a 27-year-old man, beta-glucan 5 mg/week as an adjuvant to itraconazole 200 mg/day was effective in treating paracoccidioidomycosis cutaneous lesions initially unresponsive to itraconazole monotherapy.Garcia 2014

Immunomodulation/Wound healing

Clinical data

A randomized, placebo-controlled trial demonstrated improved ulcer severity scores and lymphocyte proliferation in 31 patients with recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS) given beta-glucan 10 mg twice daily for 20 days. Lymphocyte proliferation, which was lower at baseline in the 31 RAS patients compared with 42 healthy controls, significantly increased in RAS patients receiving beta-glucan treatment compared with baseline (P=0) and compared with RAS patients who received placebo (P=0.03). Likewise, ulcer severity scores decreased in the beta-glucan group compared with baseline (P=0).Koray 2009 A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted in 130 females undergoing modified radical mastectomy investigated the effect of beta-glucan capsules (10 mg twice daily orally for 10 days postsurgery) on postoperative seroma drain fluid. Compared with placebo, beta-glucan improved drainage volume (P=0.002) and mean time to drain removal (mean, 7.16 days vs 8.59 days with placebo; P=0.001) as well as interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels.Yenidogan 2014

Topical use of beta-glucan gel was investigated for its effects on wound healing in a trial of 39 patients, with 26 patients completing the minimum 4-week study period required for evaluation. During the 12-week evaluation period, 7 wounds were fully healed, 8 had a more than 50% reduction in size, 5 demonstrated moderate healing progression, and 6 did not respond to treatment.King 2017

Dosing

See individual monographs for dosing recommendations for the specific beta-glucan sources.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. See individual monographs for information related to the specific beta-glucan sources.

Interactions

See individual monographs for interactions related to the specific beta-glucan sources.

Adverse Reactions

A single-blind, randomized, controlled-exposure, crossover study conducted in 50 healthy adults identified an acute negative effect on blood pressure (ie, increases) with inhalation of beta-1,3-D-glucan particulate matter. In contrast to endotoxin, no effect on pulse pressure was observed with beta-glucan particulate matter.Zhong 2015

See individual monographs for adverse events related to the specific beta-glucan sources.

Toxicology

See individual monographs for toxicology information related to the specific beta-glucan sources.

References

Chen J, Seviour R. Medicinal importance of fungal beta-(1—>3),(1—>6 )-glucans. Mycol Res. 2007;111(pt 6):635-652.17590323
Chen J, Raymond K. Beta-glucans in the treatment of diabetes and associated cardiovascular risks. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(6):1265-1272.19337540
Garcia NG, Oliveira DT, Pereira AA, de Sá Magalhães EM, Hanemann JA. Extensive cutaneous lesions in paracoccidioidomycosis successfully treated with itraconazole and β-glucan. Int J Dermatol. 2014;53(3):e168-e170.23621852
Haggård L, Andersson M, Punga AR. β-glucans reduce LDL cholesterol in patients with myasthenia gravis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013;67(2):226-227.23187951
He LX, Zhao J, Huang YS, Li Y. The difference between oats and beta-glucan extract intake in the management of HbA1c, fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Food Funct. 2016;7(3):1413-1428.26840185
Kelly SA, Summerbell CD, Brynes A, Whittaker V, Frost G. Wholegrain cereals for coronary heart disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(2):CD005051.17443567
Kim SY, Song HJ, Lee YY, Cho KH, Roh YK. Biomedical issues of dietary fiber beta-glucan. J Korean Med Sci. 2006;21(5):781-789.17043406
King B, Barrett S, Cutting KF. Clinical evaluation of a bioactive beta-glucan gel in the treatment of ‘hard-to-heal’ wounds. J Wound Care. 2017;26(2):58-63.28182518
Koray M, Ak G, Kürklü E, et al. The effect of beta-glucan on recurrent aphthous stomatitis. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15(2):111-112.19216661
Laroche C, Michaud P. New developments and prospective applications for beta (1,3) glucans. Recent Pat Biotechnol. 2007;1(1):59-73.19075833
Mantovani MS, Bellini MF, Angeli JP, Oliveira RJ, Silva AF, Ribeiro LR. beta-Glucans in promoting health: prevention against mutation and cancer. Mutat Res. 2008;658(3):154-161.17827055
Nieman DC, Henson DA, McMahon M, et al. Beta-glucan, immune function, and upper respiratory tract infections in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008;40(8):1463-1471.18614945
Novak M, Vetvicka V. Beta-glucans, history, and the present: immunomodulatory aspects and mechanisms of action. J Immunotoxicol. 2008;5(1):47-57.18382858
Novak M, Vetvicka V. Glucans as biological response modifiers. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2009;9(1):67-75.19275682
Oba K, Kobayashi M, Matsui T, Kodera Y, Sakamoto J. Individual patient based meta-analysis of lentinan for unresectable/recurrent gastric cancer. Anticancer Res. 2009;29(7):2739-2745.19596954
Talati R, Baker WL, Pabilonia MS, White CM, Coleman CI. The effects of barley-derived soluble fiber on serum lipids. Ann Fam Med. 2009;7(2):157-163.19273871
Volman JJ, Ramakers JD, Plat J. Dietary modulation of immune function by beta-glucans. Physiol Behav. 2008;94(2):276-284.18222501
Weitberg AB. A phase I/II trial of beta-(1,3)/(1,6) D-glucan in the treatment of patients with advanced malignancies receiving chemotherapy. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2008;27:40.18803849
Yenidogan E, Akgul GG, Gulcelik MA, Dinc S, Colakoglu MK, Kayaoglu HA. Effect of β-glucan on drain fluid and amount of drainage following modified radical mastectomy. Adv Ther. 2014;31(1):130-139.24421054
Zhong J, Urch B, Speck M, et al. Endotoxin and β-1,3-d-glucan in concentrated ambient particles induce rapid increase in blood pressure in controlled human exposures. Hypertension. 2015;66(3):509-516.26123683

Disclaimer

This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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