Larch arabinogalactan powder

Larch arabinogalactan (AG) powder is a polysaccharide taken from the wood of a Larch tree that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a source of dietary fiber. It extends its use as a fiber source to providing therapeutic benefits in that it may help boost the immune system and act as a secondary protocol in treating chronic diseases like cancer.

Biochemistry of Larch Arabinogalactan
Arabinogalactan is a polysaccharide that can be found in many species of trees, including both non-edible and edible varieties of woody plants; its abundance in the Larch tree gives it the name and makes the Larch the most feasible source for its uses. The arabinogalactan itself is a fine, white, sweet-tasting powder that mixes well with liquids. It consists of a polysaccharide galactan backbone with side chains of arabinose and galactose monosaccharides. These are both types of sugars.

Uses of Larch Arabinogalactan

The different molecular weights of this polysaccharide lend to its wide array of medicinal properties. The lower molecular weight arabinogalactans have anti-inflammatory, anti-complement, and anti-allergy effects. The polysaccharides with higher molecular weights tend to promote the release of natural killer cell cytotoxicity that lead to the destruction/eating of harmful bacteria and microorganisms that the body needs to rid itself of. The clinical indications that have been studied thus far are listed below.

Digestion/ Dietary Fiber: AG is a prebiotic, meaning that it is a non-digested item that the natural bacteria in our bodies can grow and live off of; a prebiotic is basically food for bacteria. AG provides the nutrients that the bacteria (microflora) in our large intestine need in order to grow and be happy. These normal microflora readily ferment the non-absorbed fiber from the AG, resulting in an elevated production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), particularly butyrate, which is essential for health of the colon because it promotes healthy colon epithelial cells. Possible uses of this prebiotic would be for diverticulosis, leaky-gut, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Immunity and Adjunction to Cancer: AG has received a lot of attention for its action on the immune system. More specifically, it enhances the response that each individual’s immune system may already have, making it more capable of fighting off infections, diseases, and anything that might disturb its natural actions. AG’s importance in the immune system is seen in the stimulation of natural killer cells and the blockage of metastasis, or spread, of tumor cells to the liver. This action is most specific to the liver compared to other organs. Natural killer cell stimulation has been shown to fight off diseases such as viral hepatitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune diseases.

Other Uses of AG: AG is useful as medicine in other conditions, including, but not limited to, the common cold, middle ear infections in children, lowering cholesterol, and as an anti-inflammatory.

There is no set dosage when taking larch arabinogalactan because there are many specific and varying factors that affect it, such as the user’s age and health status. Generally, it is given in doses of teaspoons or tablespoons for children and adults, respectively. The best guideline to follow is to consult a physician and follow appropriate dosages on the label of the product. It is important to let your physician know all of the medications you are taking as larch arabinogalactan can interact with certain drugs: immunosuppresants are one example. The best results are seen with short term use, no longer than 6 months. Minor side effects of use may include bloating or flatulence. However, this is due to its action on the intestinal microorganisms, and will usually subside after a week or two.

Scientific research is not available on the effects that it might have on a fetus if taken by a pregnant woman, so it is advisable not to take it during this time, or after pregnancy if you are planning to breastfeed.

Besides Medicinal Uses
Larch arabinogalactan is also approved as a food additive, providing sweetness, an emulsifying effect, or acting as a stabilizer. The polysaccharide is found naturally in some foods—carrots, radishes, wheat, corn, pears, and tomatoes—but is most commonly taken from the Larch tree for medicinal purposes.

Last updated on Dec 5th, 2010 and filed under Alternative Medicine. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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