Beta-glucans
Beta-glucans

Background

Beta-glucans are soluble fibers that come from the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and some plants. They might lower the risk for heart disease.

Beta-glucans might prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol from food. They might also stimulate the immune system by increasing chemicals that prevent infections. The US FDA allows products containing at least 750 mg of beta-glucans to have a health claim stating that they might reduce heart disease risk.

Beta-glucans are most commonly used for heart disease and high cholesterol. They are also used for many other conditions, such as eczema and diabetes, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these other uses.
When taken by mouth: Beta-glucans are commonly consumed in foods. Taking larger amounts of beta-glucans as medicine is possibly safe for up to 8-12 weeks. There have been no reported side effects from taking beta-glucans by mouth.

When applied to the skin: Beta-glucans are possibly safe when used for a short time period. They can cause skin rash in some people.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if beta-glucans are safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Effectiveness

NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Heart disease. Eating at least 3.6 grams of beta-glucans or other soluble fibers daily as part of a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet might help prevent heart disease. Oat and barley products contain large amounts of beta-glucans.
  • High cholesterol. Taking beta-glucans made from oats or barley by mouth for several weeks seems to reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol in people with high cholesterol.
There is interest in using beta-glucans for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Beta-glucans that come from oats or barley have most often been used by adults in doses of 2-6 grams by mouth daily for 3-12 weeks. Beta-glucans that come from yeast have most often been used in doses of 250-500 mg by mouth daily for 4-12 weeks. Beta-glucans are also applied to the skin in creams or other solutions. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose or product might be best for a specific condition.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Beta-glucans might lower blood pressure. Taking beta-glucans along with medications that lower blood pressure might cause blood pressure to go too low. Monitor your blood pressure closely.

Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Beta-glucans can increase the activity of the immune system. Some medications, such as those used after a transplant, decrease the activity of the immune system. Taking beta-glucans along with these medications might decrease the effects of these medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure: Beta-glucans might lower blood pressure. Taking it with other supplements that have the same effect might cause blood pressure to drop too much.
Sweet orange: Sweet orange contains compounds that might be beneficial for health. Taking beta-glucans with sweet orange might reduce how much of these compounds the body absorbs.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 01/05/2024 10:00:00 and last updated on 13/11/2022 02:26:25. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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