Beta-1,3 Glucan


Beta-1, 3 glucans are chains of polysaccharides or complex glucose (sugar) molecules. The research on beta glucans is just beginning, but these molecules appear to have exciting potential for enhancing the immune system. One of the most common sources of beta-1, 3 glucans is from the cell walls of baker’s yeast. However, they are also extracted from the bran of oats and barley. Other sources include some types of seaweed, (1) and various species of mushrooms such as Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake. (2)

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

From 3 mg to 3,000 mg daily.

Most Common Dosage

Variable, depending of body weight and whether it is being used for maintenance or an acute condition. For maintenance, doses from 75 to 250 mg daily are most common. It has been suggested that the minimal dose for a serious medical condition is 25 mg per kilogram of body weight.

Dosage Forms

Capsules, topical cream, and injectables.

Reported Uses

Numerous studies report that beta-1, 3 glucan has activity against cancer and tumor growth. (3) , (4) Animal studies for beta-1,3 glucan have shown that tumor shrinkage can occur. (5) When used appropriately with chemotherapy the spread of cancer can be decreased (6) and mortality can be reduced. (7) In human patients with advanced gastric or colorectal cancer, beta-1, 3 glucans, from shiitake mushrooms, when given with appropriate chemotherapy increased survival times compared to the group receiving the chemotherapy alone. (8)

Beta-glucans appear to be the major cholesterol lowering agents in oat bran fiber. Studies have shown that the beta-1, 3 glucans in oat bran can lower total cholesterol and LDL, or "bad," cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol. (9) , (10) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved beta-glucan to reduce cardiovascular disease risk with recent studies confirming that risk reduction. (11)

Other studies have demonstrated other benefits to beta-1,3 glucan. These benefits include; the prevention of infection in patients who have suffered traumatic injuries, (12) assisting the body in its ability to recover from the adverse effects of radiation therapy, (13) , (14) protecting from shock in patients with severe infections, (15) and generally enhancing wound healing.

Beta-1, 3 glucans seem to make the immune system work better without becoming overactive. Overactivity of the immune system can be harmful in patients with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Beta-1,3 glucans improve the body’s immune system by enhancing the ability of macrophages to respond to and fight a wide range of toxic substances in the body such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. (16)

Toxicities & Precautions


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This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines.

Pregnancy / Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.


  1. View Abstract: Teas J. The dietary intake of Laminarin, a brown seaweed, and breast cancer prevention. Nutr Cancer. 1983;4(3):217-22.
  2. View Abstract: Wasser SP, Weis AL. Therapeutic effects of substances occurring in higher Basidiomycetes mushrooms: a modern perspective. Crit Rev Immunol. 1999;19(1):65-96.
  3. View Abstract: di Luzio NR, Williams DL, et al. Comparative evaluation of the tumor inhibitory and antibacterial activity of solubilized and particulate glucan. Recent Results Cancer Res. 1980;75:165-172.
  4. View Abstract: Morikawa K, Takeda R, Yamazaki M, et al. Induction of tumoricidal activity of polymorphonuclear leukocytes by a linear beta-1, 3-D-glucan and other immunomodulators in murine cells. Cancer Res. Apr1985;45(4):1496-501.
  5. View Abstract: Mansell PW, Ichinose H, Reed RJ, et al. Macrophage-mediated destruction of human malignant cells in vivo. J Natl Cancer Inst. Mar1975;54(3):571-80.
  6. View Abstract: Sveinbjornsson B, Rushfeldt C, Seljelid R, et al. Inhibition of establishment and growth of mouse liver metastases after treatment with interferon gamma and beta-1, 3-D-glucan. Hepatology. May1998;27(5):1241-8.
  7. View Abstract: Thompson IM, Spence CR, Lamm DL, et al. Immunochemotherapy of bladder carcinoma with glucan and cyclophosphamide. Am J Med Sci. Nov1987;294(5):294-300.
  8. View Abstract: Wakui A, Kasai M, Konno K, et al. Randomized study of lentinan on patients with advanced gastric and colorectal cancer. Tohoku Lentinan Study Group. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. Apr1986;13(4 Pt 1):1050-9.
  9. View Abstract: Davidson MH, Dugan LD, Burns JH, et al. The hypocholesterolemic effects of beta-glucan in oatmeal and oat bran. A dose-controlled study. JAMA. Apr1991;265(14): 1833-9.
  10. View Abstract: Braaten JT, Wood PJ, Scott FW, et al. Oat beta-glucan reduces blood cholesterol concentration in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. Jul1994;48(7):465-74.
  11. View Abstract: Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Vuksan V, Vidgen E, Parker T, Faulkner D, et al. Soluble fiber intake at a dose approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for a claim of health benefits: serum lipid risk factors for cardiovascular disease assessed in a randomized controlled crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. May2002;75(5):834-839.
  12. View Abstract: de Felippe Junior J, da Rocha e Silva Junior M, Maciel FM, et al. Infection prevention in patients with severe multiple trauma with the immunomodulator beta 1-3 polyglucose (glucan). Surg Gynecol Obstet. Oct1993;177(4): 383-8.
  13. View Abstract: Patchen ML, DiLuzio NR, Jacques P, et al. Soluble polyglycans enhance recovery from cobalt-60—induced hemopoietic injury. J Biol Response Mod. Dec1984;3(6):627-33.
  14. View Abstract: Petruczenko A. Glucan effect on the survival of mice after radiation exposure. Acta Physiol Pol. May1984;35(3):231-6.
  15. View Abstract: Soltys J, Quinn MT. Modulation of endotoxin- and enterotoxin-induced cytokine release by in vivo treatment with beta- (1,6)-branched beta- (1,3)-glucan. Infect Immun. Jan1999;67(1):244-52.
  16. View Abstract: Chihara G. Recent progress in immunopharmacology and therapeutic effects of polysaccharides. Dev Biol Stand. 1992;77:191-7.