Why Fungal Beta Glucan?
Why Fungal Beta Glucan?
The most common source of beta glucans is the cell wall of yeast (Sacharomycces cerevisiae). Other sources are grains of some cereals (content within range 1-7%) and higher mushrooms (content of beta glucans in dry rot mushrooms within range 10-30%).
Great attention is given to the study and research of therapeutic effects of polysaccharides isolated from various species of mushrooms, however higher attention turns to so-called medicinal mushrooms, which polysaccharides are able to provide much higher immunostimulating effect on organism.
Several species of mushrooms containing beta glucan with significant anticancer activity
The activity depends on the molecular weight, degree of branching and molecule conformation. Highest anticancer effect show beta glucans with degree of branching between 0,20– 0,33 and high relative molecular weight.
Oyster mushroom – Pleurotus ostreatus (Hiratake) -fulfills these criteria and also has better nutritional value. Beta glucan isolated from this mushroom has exceptional anti-cancer and immunomodulating effects, the mushroom furthermore contains large amount of proteins and carbohydrates, 8 essential amino acids (except tryptophane), as well as vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B7, C and PP and also mineral elements (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc).
Beta glucans have a significant impact on the functionality of immune system. Better immunity then manifests in better defense against bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infections, as well as against aberration growth of cells. Besides these immunomodulating effects, beta glucan is able to lower the LDL-cholesterol and helps in treatment of hypertension. Glucose polymers, from which beta glucan is built, also show positive influence on growth of probiotic strain in the intestinal tract and improve blood lipids profile.
Beta glucan is a substance that is able to modify biological response of an organism because of its ability to prepare the immune system to act.
Beta glucan improves the immune system “performance” without causing an overreaction. The immunomodulation by beta glucans can be mediated by changed activity of macrophages and T-cells (lymphocytes), which is deduced from production and expression of cytokines. The effect on macrophages is expressed by their increased functionality – search and removal of foreign elements in body (e.g. bacteria, viruses and parasites), increase in cytokines production (e.g. TNF – tumor necrosis factor), some T-lymphocytes subgroups and increase in specific and non-specific immune response of organism. Adsorption to the organism is done with help of enterocytes. Beta glucan and other similar substances are transported through the cell walls of gastrointestinal system to lymph and then into the blood where they interact with macrophages and improve the functionality of immune system.
Enterocytes are participating in the transport of beta glucans and similar substances through the cell walls of intestinal tract to lymph, where they begin to interact with macrophages, which results in strengthening of the immune system. Studies using radioactive marking of beta glucans showed that small and also large particles (fragments) of beta glucans are present in the blood serum, which indicates absorption of glucans in the intestinal tract.
For best absorption, it is recommended to take beta glucan on empty stomach.
According to most of authors, the recommended daily dose of beta glucan is 3-3000 mg/day, depending on the purpose – prophylactic use or a supplementary treatment during an illness.
In the USA beta glucan has been rated as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). The rating is given by FDA (Food and Drug Administration), when there are no side effects and contraindications known. The only cases when an allergic reaction may be developed are when the taken beta glucan substance is not clean enough. There are no effects of their absence.
Although beta glucans can be found in yeast, grains of e.g. oat, barley and some species of mushrooms, they are not easily exploited in their natural impure form.
Beta glucan can be utilised in not only human, but also in veterinary area.