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Beta-glucan is a fiber-type complex sugar (polysaccharide) derived from the cell wall of baker’s yeast, oat and barley fiber, and many medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake. These mushrooms contain biologically active polysaccharides that mostly belong to a group of beta-glucans. Beta-glucan increases host immune defenses, activates white blood cells, which in turn can recognize and kill tumor cells, correct oxidative damage, and speed up the recovery of damaged tissue.

Beta-glucans are used orally for:

  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer (including breast cancer)
  • As an immunostimulant people with conditions that may compromise their immune system
  • Common cold
  • Influenza
  • Swine flu
  • Allergies
  • Hepatitis
  • Lyme disease
  • Asthma
  • Ear infections
  • Aging
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis

Beta-glucans are used topically for:

  • Dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Wrinkles 
  • Bedsores
  • Wounds
  • Burns
  • Diabetic ulcers
  • Radiation burns

Beta-glucans are used for treating cancer and as an immunostimulant in patients with HIV/AIDS and AIDS-related disorders, both intravenously and intramuscularly. Intravenously, beta-glucans is also used for preventing sepsis in trauma patients after undergoing exploratory laparotomy or thoracotomy and for preventing infection in surgical patients. Beta-glucans are used subcutaneously for treating and reducing the size of subcutaneous tumors resulting from malignant metastatic disease. In manufacturing, beta-glucans are used as a food additive in products such as salad dressings, frozen desserts, sour cream, and cheese spreads.

Also known as:  1-3, 1-6-bêta-glucane, B-Glucane d'Avoine, Barley Beta-Glucan, Barley B-Glucan, Beta-1, 3/1, 6-D-Glucan, Bêta-1, 3/1, 6-D-Glucane, Beta 1, 3/1, 6 Glucan, Beta 1, 3/1, 6 Glucane, Bêta-1, 3 / 1, 6 Glucanes, Beta-1, 3 / 1, 6 Glucans, Beta -1, 3-D Glucan, Bêta -1, 3-D Glucane, Bêta-1, 3-D-glucane, Beta-1, 3-Glucan, Bêta-1, 3-Glucane, Beta 1, 3 Glucan, Bêta 1, 3 Glucane, Beta 1, 6 Glucan, Bêta 1, 6 Glucane, Beta 1, 3 Glucans, Bêta 1, 3 Glucanes, Beta Glucan, Beta-Glucan, Bêta-Glucane, Bêta-Glucane d'Avoine, Bêta-Glucane d'Orge, Bêta-Glucane Dérivé de la Levure, Bêta-glucanes, Beta Glucanos, Beta-Glucans, Beta Glycans, Beta-Glycans, Grifolan (GRN), Lentinan, Oat Beta Glucan, Oat B-Glucan, PGG Glucan, PGG-Glucan, Poly-[1-6]-Beta-D-Glucopyranosyl-[1-3]-Beta-D-Glucopyranose, Schizophyllan (SPG), SSG, Yeast-Derived Beta Glucan

Diseases and Conditions

Found in many types of fungi, Beta-Glucans and holds immunity-stimulating effects.

Beta-Glucans is also a dietary fiber. When taken as part of a low-fat diet, dietary fiber may help reduce the risk of some types of cancers.


Beta-glucans is likely safe when consumed in amounts found in dietary sources. Beta-glucans, if obtained from brewer’s or baker’s yeast, has achieved a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the United States. There is insufficient information on the overall safety of beta-glucans for pregnant and breastfeeding women; best to avoid. Children may safely take beta-glucans under the supervision of a doctor. Beta-glucans is possibly safe when consumed orally in the short-term; 15 grams derived from yeast sources can be safely consumed daily or taken intravenously for up to 8 weeks. However, intravenous use of beta-glucans can cause more adverse side effects and should only be taken under medical supervision. Yeast-derived beta-glucans is generally well tolerated, but possible side effects may include:

  • Hypertension
  • Hypotension 
  • Flushing
  • Fever
  • Maculopapular rash
  • Diaphoresis
  • Keratoderma for AIDS patients
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Flatulence
  • Low palatability
  • Stomach pain
  • Leukocytosis
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Pulmonary inflammation
  • Excessive urination 
  • Flu-like symptoms

Medication Interactions

Beta-Glucans can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, so using it with antihypertensive drugs creates the risk of hypotension. Beta-Glucans have immunostimulant effects, so the potency of immunosuppressants can be debilitated. Immunosuppressant drugs include:

  • Azathioprine (Imuran)
  • Basiliximab (Simulect)
  • Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
  • Daclizumab (Zenapax)
  • Muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3)
  • Mycophenolate (CellCept)
  • Tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf)
  • Sirolimus (Rapamune),
  • Prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone)
  • Other corticosteroids (glucocorticoids).

According to animal research, simultaneous use of indomethacin and Beta-Glucans increases the lethal toxicity of oral indomethacin possibly by altering cytokine production and resulting in more severe gastrointestinal damage.

Supplement and Food Interactions

Evidence shows that beta-glucans might lower blood pressure in some people. These effects might combine with those of other herbs or supplements with hypotensive effects, such as fish oil, lycium, theanine, and cat's claw, and may increase the risk of hypotension.


The correct dosage of any supplement requires a comprehensive analysis of many factors including your age, sex, health conditions, DNA, and lifestyle.

For lowering cholesterol levels, the amount of beta-glucan used in clinical trials has ranged from 2,900 to 15,000 mg per day.

For enhancing immune function, an effective amount has not yet been determined due to the lack of studies in this application. However, manufacturers of beta-glucan products usually recommend between 50 and 1,000 mg daily (to be taken on an empty stomach), although some products contain as much as 500 mg per capsule.


Beta-glucans is a type of fiber that naturally occurs in certain grains, mushrooms, and seaweed. It is sometimes added to foods such as frozen desserts and salad dressings.

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