Would you believe that a sugar supplement could strengthen your immune system? The sugars in arabinogalactans can. Arabinogalactans are a type of soluble fibre made up of long, branching chains of sugars. These compounds, which are found in many plants including some vegetables, have a very fascinating effect on the immune system. They function as immune activity normalisers. If your body is battling an infection, arabinogalactans power up the attack against the invading organism or virus. Additionally, if your immune system is too revved up, as is the case in allergies and chronic inflammation, arabinogalactans can help suppress this over activity.
Arabinogalactans have a variety of beneficial effects in the body. They increase the production of various cytokines, which are chemicals the immune system uses for cell to cell communication. The end result is increased activity of immune cells against tumors, viruses and bacteria.
Arabinogalactans inhibit the ability of toxic bacteria to adhere to the intestinal wall, thereby preventing infection. Another beneficial effect produced in the intestinal tract results from beneficial bacteria feeding on this compound. Arabinogalactans are not broken down by human digestive processes, but they are a food for bacteria that normally reside in the intestinal tract. The metabolic by-products produced from bacterial breakdown of arabinogalactans are called short chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are very important to overall health as they serve as the primary fuel source of the cells lining the colon. Adequate levels of short chain fatty acids may help protect against the development of inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.
In addition to boosting activity of natural killer cells, which attack tumors, arabinogalactans may provide an additional benefit in battling cancer. In animal studies, arabinogalactans have reduced the spread of tumors to the liver by coating the binding sites that cancer cells would otherwise attach to. This inhibition of metastasis resulted in increased survival time. Also of interest to cancer patients is the fact that arabinogalactans protect against radiation induced damage.
The conditions in which arabinogalactans could be of benefit are: allergies, hay fever, asthma, autoimmune disease, cancer, inflammation such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, viral and bacterial infections such as bronchitis and sinusitis. One of the conditions responding most dramatically to arabinogalactans has been recurrent paediatric otitis-media. This is the repeated childhood ear infection that conventional medicine has had a difficult time treating. In many cases, the child is put on multiple courses of antibiotics because the infection returns over and over again. Arabinogalactans can help boost the immune system and make a big difference here.
Arabinogalactans are one of the active ingredients of medicinal herbs such as Echinacea, Astragalus, and Shitake mushroom. However, only about 4 percent of the dry weight of these herbs are comprised of arabinogalactans. One teaspoon of 100 percent pure arabinogalactans powder is equivalent to about 12 ounces of Echinacea tincture! Supplemental arabinogalactans powder is derived from an evergreen tree called the Western Larch. It has a mild pine odour, sweetish taste, and dissolves very readily in water or juice.