Arabinogalactans are water-soluble polysaccharides widely found in plants, fungi and bacteria. Because of its potent biological activity and immune-enhancing properties, this unique dietary fiber is receiving increased attention as a clinically useful nutraceutical agent.
Many plants – both edible and inedible – are rich sources of arabinogalactans, including leek seeds, carrots, radishes, black gram beans, pears, maize, wheat, red wine, Italian ryegrass, tomatoes, ragweed, sorghum, bamboo grass and coconut meat and milk. Many herbs with well established immune-enhancing properties, such as Echinacea purpurea, Baptisia tinctoria, Thuja occidentalis, Angelica acutiloba and Curcuma longa also contain significant amounts of arabinogalactans.
Arabinogalactans are most abundant in the larch tree and although larch arabinogalactan can be extracted from the wood of two trees (Western larch/Larix occidentalis or Mongolian larch/Larix dahurica), most commercially-available arabinogalactan is produced from the former. High-grade larch arabinogalactan is composed of more than 90% arabinogalactan. It is a dry, free-flowing powder, with a very slight pine-like odor and sweetish taste. It is 100% water-soluble and produces low viscosity solutions. Because of its excellent solubility and mild taste, the powder mixes readily in water and juices and is easily administered.
Arabinogalactan is FDA-approved for use in food applications and it is safe even in large doses. The only known side-effect is occasional bloating and flatulence in a small percentage of people who take it.
Larch Arabinogalactan acts as a food supply for friendly bacteria. The term used to describe this action is "prebiotic". The most well known prebiotic substance is "fructooligosaccharides" or "FOS". Larch Arabinogalactan acts in the same manner as FOS in humans. The effect is to increase good bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, while decreasing bad bacteria.
Arabinogalactans appear to offer real value in the treatment of recurrent pediatric otitis media.
The longest recognized use of Larch Arabinogalactan is probably as a source of dietary fiber. It has been shown to increase the production of short-chain fatty acids, principally butyrate and proprionate. These special fatty acids are critically important for the health of the colon: Having an adequate supply of these fatty acids is thought to make colon cells more resistant to both tumor promotion and a variety of intestinal disease.
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