Beta Glucan

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Cold and flu season is coming, so I expect the usual flood of questions about flu shots versus natural remedies. My recommendation concerning flu shots hasn’t changed much in years: If you’re healthy, forget them. Flu shots can actually weaken your immune system and you may still get the flu. Consider a flu shot only if you live in a nursing home, have a compromised immune system, or a lung problem.

Related article: Top Ten Ways to Avoid Getting Sick

As far as natural remedies, I’m as impressed as ever with beta glucan. Beta glucans are biologically active complex carbohydrate compounds from fungi, yeast, and seaweed. The form I use and recommend—WGP beta glucan—is derived from the cell walls of baker’s yeast. These compounds have been studied for well over a hundred years and have garnered a reputation not just as a natural immunostimulant against colds, flu, and other infectious diseases, but also as a highly effective adjunct therapy against tumors.

Beta glucans ignite the immune system’s attack mode in the lining of the small intestine. It is there that they come in contact with a type of white blood cell that circulates throughout the body and signals the immune system’s defense mechanisms. This activation orchestrates a cascade of events involving natural killer cells, neutrophils, and antibodies, boosting the immune system’s ability to destroy pathogens.

Beta glucan compounds have also been found to enhance antibiotic efficacy in infections with resistant bacteria—a big deal in our age of increased bacterial resistance. And research has indicated that yeast-based beta glucan shows promise against parasitic worms, which are widespread in humans.

So there’s no reason to limit your use of beta glucan to cold and flu season. I recommend 10 mg every other day as a preventive measure, or 10 to 20 mg daily with the onset of symptoms. Take beta glucan on an empty stomach. If symptoms persist, continue dosage for up to three weeks or once symptoms have subsided. And since studies on beta glucan have also demonstrated significant synergistic potency when used in combination with vitamin C and resveratrol, I suggest using them together for added firepower.


This article originally appeared in the Oct. 2011 issue of Dr. Sinatra’s monthly written newsletter, Heart, Health & Nutrition. HMDI has reprinted this article with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC (© 2011 Healthy Directions, LLC).


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