Beta glucans are complex glucose molecules found in baker’s yeast and the bran of oats and barley. Several studies suggest beta glucan supplements can boost immune response, help prevent cancer and help lower cholesterol.
In a study at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, researchers found beta glucan could result in faster healing by enhancing the ability of immune cells to travel to the site of a bacterial infection. Specifically, their research found that beta glucan binds to immune cells called neutrophils, which are chemically attracted to an infection and among the first cells to respond to infection or injury. This action of beta glucan improves both the ability of these immune cells to travel to infected tissue and to destroy that infection.
According to lead researcher Jonathan Reichner, “priming the neutrophils with beta glucan increases their ability to sense an infection.” He also says beta glucan helps neutrophils locate the bacteria within infected tissue, which may result in faster healing.
Sources: Surgery August 2004. 136(2), pp 384-9; The Journal of Immunology July 2004. 15;173(2):1284-91