- Arabinogalactan Benefits + Foods, Dosage & Side Effects
- What is Arabinogalactan?
- Food Sources
- What Does Arabinogalactan Contain?
- How Does Arabinogalactan Work?
- Purported Health Benefits of Arabinogalactan
- The Common Cold
- Vaccine Response
- Cholesterol and Diabetes
- Animal And Cell Research (Lacking Evidence)
- Cancer Research
- Gut Health
- Allergy Relief
- Dry Eyes
- Pain Relief
- Side Effects and Safety
- Autoimmune Activity
- Drug Interactions
- Can Larch Arabinogalactan Prevent Colds and Flu?
- Larch Uses, Benefits & Dosage – Drugs.com Herbal Database
- Adverse Reactions
- Uses and Pharmacology
- The Blood Type Diets : Ara 6: Larch Arabinogalactan
- Larch Arabinogalactan: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions
Arabinogalactan Benefits + Foods, Dosage & Side Effects
Arabinogalactan is a natural compound found inside the leaves, roots, and sap of many plants. First discovered in larch in the 19th century, arabinogalactan is now growing popular due to claims that it may help prevent colds, combat infections, and relieve allergies. Read on to learn what the research says.
What is Arabinogalactan?
Arabinogalactan is a natural compound found in many plants and a key ingredient in plant gums, such as gum arabic .
Certain species of bacteria have arabinogalactan in their cell walls for structural support .
A major commercial source of arabinogalactan is the North American larch tree. Extracts from this tree are referred to as larch arabinogalactan .
Arabinogalactan has several unique properties, including high solubility and stability. This makes it useful as a thickening and stabilizing agent .
There is some evidence that arabinogalactan may have several health benefits such as improving the immune system and cholesterol levels. However, it’s not clear how strong these health claims are due to a lack of clinical research .
Varying concentrations of arabinogalactan are contained in the seeds, leaves, roots, fruit, and sap of many plants, including :
- Leek seeds
Arabinogalactan is also found in several medicinal herbs, such as [1, 4]:
- Wild indigo
- Angelica acutiloba
- Terminalia arjuna
Commercially, arabinogalactan is typically extracted from the North American larch tree. This specific larch species contains a very high concentration (up to 35%) of arabinogalactan .
What Does Arabinogalactan Contain?
Arabinogalactan is a polysaccharide, meaning it is made up of many smaller sugar molecules. More specifically, it contains long chains of the sugars arabinose and galactose, which is how arabinogalactan got its name .
The composition of these sugars can vary depending on the species of plant. For example, larch arabinogalactan contains galactose and arabinose in a 6:1 ratio .
Arabinogalactan is also commonly found in combination with proteins. Research is finding that arabinogalactan-proteins have their own unique functions in plants .
This means that different sources of arabinogalactan can have different concentrations of sugars and other compounds. This is important because researchers often use different plant sources for their studies, which can complicate their results.
How Does Arabinogalactan Work?
Arabinogalactan primarily works as a dietary fiber. Humans lack the enzymes to break down arabinogalactan, making it difficult to digest.
When arabinogalactan is consumed, it sits in the colon and is slowly fermented by the bacteria there. This fermentation produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), such as butyrate, which play an important role in colon health. For example, butyrate acts as an energy source for colon cells [7, 8].
Arabinogalactan may also interact with M-cells. These M-cells are part of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, a system that plays an important role in the immune response in the digestive tract .
According to some researchers, arabinogalactan molecules may stimulate M-cells, which go on to activate T cells, B cells, and other cells of the immune system. This way, gut immunity potentially extends to affect whole-body immunity .
- May help prevent the common cold
- May improve vaccine response
- May improve cholesterol levels
- May help in diabetes
- Lack of clinical research on effectiveness and safety
- May have serious interactions in people with autoimmune issues
Purported Health Benefits of Arabinogalactan
The following purported benefits of arabinogalactan are only supported by limited, low-quality clinical studies. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of arabinogalactan for any of the uses listed below.
Remember to speak with a doctor before taking arabinogalactan. It should never be used as a replacement for approved medical therapies.
The Common Cold
One randomized placebo-controlled study of 199 people found that arabinogalactan supplementation may reduce the incidence of cold infections. However, arabinogalactan did not reduce the severity or symptoms of the common cold .
After receiving a vaccination, there is usually a rise in IgG levels (a type of antibody) in the body. This typically signifies that the immune system has detected the vaccine and is building up a defense against it .
Several studies suggest that arabinogalactan may further increase IgG levels after vaccination. For example, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 75 healthy adults found that arabinogalactan supplementation may increase the rise in IgG antibodies after tetanus vaccination .
A similar trial including 45 healthy adults suggests that arabinogalactan may also cause a greater rise in IgG levels after receiving a pneumococcal vaccine .
However, it’s unknown if this increase in IgG translates to better vaccine effectiveness. Also, the same IgG-boosting effect was not seen in response to flu shots (the influenza vaccine) .
Cholesterol and Diabetes
Research conducted in animals and cells suggests that arabinogalactan may improve blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity [14, 15].
However, human studies have not found the same benefits. According to a small study of 20 people, arabinogalactan has no effect on cholesterol and insulin levels in the blood. A different study of 54 people also found no significant changes in cholesterol, glucose, or insulin levels after arabinogalactan supplementation [16, 17].
Animal And Cell Research (Lacking Evidence)
No clinical evidence supports the use of arabinogalactan for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.
Arabinogalactan has not been shown to treat or prevent cancer. The potential effect of arabinogalactan in cancer has only been studied in animals and cells.
It’s important to note that many substances have anti-cancer effects in cells, even toxic chemicals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have medical value. On the contrary, most substances (natural or synthetic) that are researched in cancer cells fail to pass further animal studies or clinical trials due to a lack of safety or efficacy.
With that in mind, researchers have investigated the effects of arabinogalactan in animals and cells on the following types of cancer:
- Breast cancer 
- Colon cancer [19, 20]
- Liver cancer [21, 22, 23]
- Stomach cancer 
- Lung cancer 
Additionally, research suggests that arabinogalactan may help other anti-cancer agents target cancer cells more effectively, potentially reducing drug toxicity. This means that arabinogalactan may be able to improve the delivery of other cancer treatments, but more research is needed [22, 25, 23, 26].
According to several animal studies, plant extracts containing arabinogalactan may reduce stomach ulcers in rats [27, 28, 29].
A cell study found that arabinogalactan-proteins may block H. pylori from attaching to stomach cells. H. pylori is a type of bacteria that may cause inflammation and ulcers in the stomach .
One mouse study suggests that arabinogalactan may reduce airway inflammation and sensitivity to allergens .
However, this effect was only seen in arabinogalactan obtained from a specific grass species. The same effect was not seen in arabinogalactan sourced from gum arabic or larch .
One study in rabbits found that an arabinogalactan 5% solution may protect against dry spots on the cornea (the transparent front surface of the eye), while also potentially speeding up the healing time after an eye injury .
According to a cell study, arabinogalactan may stimulate cell growth in the eye .
A mouse study suggests that arabinogalactan sourced from the tamarillo fruit may help reduce pain .
Several animal studies have also found that arabinogalactan combined with other pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may provide more pain relief than each drug by itself [35, 36].
Side Effects and Safety
Arabinogalactan is considered ly safe when consumed in the amounts normally found in food. The FDA also considers arabinogalactan safe as a food additive when used as a thickening and stabilizing agent .
When arabinogalactan is taken at higher doses than what is normally contained in food, it is only considered possibly safe for short-term use. This is due to a lack of clinical safety research, especially for long-term use.
There is not enough research to determine the safety of arabinogalactan during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Arabinogalactan is generally well tolerated. The most common side effects are bloating and flatulence .
There is some evidence that arabinogalactan may increase the activity of the immune system. For this reason, patients with any kind of autoimmune disease should avoid arabinogalactan as it theoretically may exacerbate symptoms.
This also means that patients who have received a transplant should also avoid arabinogalactan. Theoretically, it could increase the chance of transplant rejection.
If you decide to take arabinogalactan (or any other supplement) let your doctor know as there may be unexpected and potentially dangerous interactions with your other medications or health conditions. The drug interactions of arabinogalactan are not well researched and there may be more potential interactions beyond the ones discussed here.
Theoretically, arabinogalactan may have an interaction with immunosuppressant medications, due to its possible effects on immune system activity. Those taking immunosuppressants should avoid arabinogalactan.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss the common forms and dosages of arabinogalactan that are commercially available. Arabinogalactan is not approved by the FDA for medical use. Regulations set manufacturing standards for arabinogalactan, but that does not guarantee that it is safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.
Arabinogalactan is commercially available as a powder and a capsule.
The powder form can be mixed with water or juice, or it can be added to food as well.
There is currently insufficient evidence to determine what a safe and effective dose of arabinogalactan is.
Manufacturers of arabinogalactan products typically recommend a dose of about 4 grams per day.
Clinical trials typically use a similar dose of 4.5 grams per day [13, 10].
Can Larch Arabinogalactan Prevent Colds and Flu?
Federica Grassi/Moment/Getty Images
Larch arabinogalactan is a natural substance sourced from the wood of the larch tree (Larix occidentalis). Arabinogalactans is a fiber found in many plants but occur in especially high concentrations in the larch tree.
Widely available in dietary supplement form, larch arabinogalactan is thought to offer a number of health benefits.
Chief among these is the stimulation of the immune system and the prevention of viral and bacterial infections.
Larch arabinogalactan is a fiber-rich complex carbohydrate that alternative practitioners believe can protect against common and uncommon infections. It is thought to stimulate the immune system by increasing the amount of probiotic bacteria in the gut as it undergoes fermentation.
For reasons not entirely understood, this action triggers a dramatic increase in defensive antibodies, including immunoglobulin G (IgG), as well as inflammatory proteins such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
In addition to improving digestion, larch arabinogalactan is believed by some to prevent or treat the following health conditions:
- Common cold
- Ear infections
- H1N1 (swine) flu
- Hepatitis C
- High cholesterol
- Liver cancer
- Liver disease
As is often the case with alternative remedies, some of the claims are better supported by research than others. Here is a look at some key findings from the current studies on the benefits of larch arabinogalactan:
The study was conducted during the cold season of 2010/2011 with 199 healthy volunteers who had reported at least three upper respiratory tract infections in the previous year.
The participant were randomly given either 4.5 gram (g) of an arabinogalactan preparation called ResistAid or a placebo.
Outcomes were measured by a 10-point questionnaire in which cold symptoms were rated on a scale from 0 to 3.
After 12 weeks, the researchers reported that the group given arabinogalactan had 23% fewer colds than those given a placebo. On the flip side, those in the arabinogalactan group who experienced cold reported far worse symptoms.
The conclusions, while interesting, were limited by the highly subjective nature of the questionnaire and the fact that the research was funded by the manufacturer of ResistAid.
It has been proposed that larch arabinogalactan can bolster the effectiveness of vaccines by amplifying the immunological response. This effect could theoretically increase the effectiveness of vaccines that sometimes fail in very young children or elderly adults.
In a 2010 study published in Nutrition Journal, scientists found that adults treated with ResistAid experienced a greater antibody response after influenza vaccination than those treated with a placebo. The study involved 45 healthy adults, each of whom was given a daily dose of 4.5 g of ResistAid for 72 days (starting 30 days prior to the vaccination).
According to the researchers, participants who received ResistAid had far higher levels of pneumonia-specific IgG antibodies than those provided a placebo. The results are significant given that IgG binds disease-causing pathogens (such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi) and protects the body against infection.
The same lab reported similar findings when ResistAid was given in a combination with a tetanus vaccine.
Despite the promising findings, there is no way to predict how much more effective the vaccines may be in when combined with ResistAid. In the end, an increased IgG response does not inherently confer to a lower incidence of infection.
At this stage, the protective benefit is largely speculative. Further research is needed.
Claims that larch arabinogalactan can prevent cancer are, at best, exaggerated. The hypothesis was largely spurred by misconceptions about arabinogalactan's role in stimulating tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFa ).
Despite its name, TNFa neither acts upon nor causes cancer but, instead, triggers an inflammatory response to help neutralize disease-causing pathogens. If anything, increased production of TNF-a is linked to the development of certain cancers.
With that said, arabinogalactan may aid in the treatment of cancer by preventing the depletion of white blood cells that commonly occurs during chemotherapy.
Leukopenia, the deficiency of leukocytes, a common but serious side effect of 5-FU and one that can cause fever, sweating, chills, and an increased risk of infection. Further research is needed to determine whether arabinogalactan can help humans with cancer avoid chemo-induced leukopenia.
Little is known about the long-term safety of larch arabinogalactan. When used occasionally, the supplement may cause mild gastrointestinal side effects, including bloating, flatulence, and cramps. If overused, larch arabinogalactan may cause diarrhea.
People allergic to larch tree and other members of the pine family may also be allergic to larch arabinogalactan, although this is uncommon.
There is also concern that larch arabinogalactan may trigger a flare-up of symptoms in people with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis. The concern is largely speculative but one worthy of consideration given the way in which arabinogalactan incites an immune response.
Larch arabinogalactan should also be used with caution in organ transplant recipients in whom the substance may increase the risk of organ rejection.
To be safe, avoid larch arabinogalactan in any form if you are on any of the following immunosuppressive drugs:
- Cellcept (mycophenolate)
- Imuran (azathioprine)
- Orthoclone (muromonab-CD3)
- Prograf (tacrolimus)
- Rapamune (sirolimus)
- Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
- Simulect (basiliximab)
- TNF inhibitors
- Zenapax (daclizumab)
The safety of larch arabinogalactan in children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers has not been established. Because of this, it should not be used without direct supervision from a qualified pediatrician or OB/GYN specialist.
Always advise your doctor about any and all drugs you are taking, whether prescription or over-the-counter.
Larch arabinogalactan supplements and powdered extracts are widely available online and in many natural foods shops, drugstores, and shops specializing in dietary supplements.
There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of larch arabinogalactan. Depending on the manufacturer, doses can range anywhere from 30 milligrams (mg) to as high as 500 mg. Studies have suggested that daily doses of up to 4.5 g (4,500 mg) have been used safely in adults.
As a rule of thumb, it is always better to start with a smaller dose and increase incrementally as tolerated. Higher doses do not inherently confer to better results and may, in fact, increase the risk of diarrhea.
Dietary supplements larch arabinogalactan are not strictly regulated in the United States. To better ensure quality and safety:
- Opt for brands that are certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Check the product label to ensure there are no other added ingredients or fillers. Brands marked “pure” should not contain anything but larch arabinogalactan extract.
- Be sure that the species name Larix occidentalis is printed on the product label. This is because North American larch is a different species than European larches, the latter of which only have a fraction of the arabinogalactan content.
Larch arabinogalactan supplements and powders are best taken in the morning, the fiber content of which can better ensure bowel regularity. If you experience flatulence or bloating, taking the dose right before bedtime can sometimes help.
Larch arabinogalactan powder is typically mixed with water or juice or stirred into smoothies, yogurt, or protein shakes. It has a slightly sweetish flavor and a subtle pine- aroma.
Are there other sources of arabinogalactan?
North American larch trees have the highest concentration of arabinogalactan of any source, accounting for as much as 35% of the dried heartwood weight.
There are other sources for arabinogalactan, albeit with vastly smaller quantities. These include carrot, radish, pear, corn, wheat, leek seed, and tomato. Sources also include medicinal herbs such as Echinacea, Curcuma longa, and Angelica acutiloba.
Arabinogalactan is also commonly used in food production as a stabilizer, sweetener, and thickening agent.
Larch Uses, Benefits & Dosage – Drugs.com Herbal Database
Scientific Name(s): Larix dahurica L., Larix decidua Mill., Larix eurolepis Gord., Larix europaea., Larix gmelinii., Larix kaempferi., Larix laricina Koch., Larix leptolepis (Sieb. et Zucc.) Gord., Larix occidentalis Nutt., Larix sibirica ledeb.
Common Name(s): Larch, Larch gum, Larix, Mongolian Larchwood (L. dahurica)
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 22, 2020.
Arabinogalactan, which is present in some larch species, has been reported to stimulate the immune system and boost antibody response to vaccines. It may be useful in treating upper respiratory infections and dyslipidemia.
However, very limited clinical trials, primarily conducted in healthy individuals, support these uses.
Larch arabinogalactan is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a source of dietary fiber and for use in food products.
The typical adult dose is 1 to 3 tablespoons/day of larch arabinogalactan powder in divided doses. In children, the typical dose is 1 to 3 teaspoons/day of the powder in divided doses.
The powder can be mixed with water or juice, or added to food. Arabinogalactan extract (ResistAid) 1.5 to 4.
5 g/day for 60 to 72 days, beginning 30 days prior to vaccine administration, has also been used.
Larch should not be used in patients with autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematous, Crohn disease, or rheumatoid arthritis due to its stimulating effects on the immune system. Larch is not recommended in patients with tuberculosis because arabinogalactans are structural components of cell walls of mycobacterium.
Avoid use. Clinical information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
Because of its immunostimulating effects, larch should not be used with immunosuppressant drugs.
Most individuals do not experience adverse reactions with larch. However, because larch is a source of dietary fiber, bloating, flatulence, and other mild GI adverse effects may occur.
Larch arabinogalactan is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and is approved by the FDA as a source of dietary fiber and for use in food products.
Larch trees are deciduous conifers that lose their needles in the fall. One species, L. decidua, grows up to 50 m in height and has needle- leaves and small, light-brown cones.1 It is indigenous to the Pacific Northwest United States and British Columbia.2 The Dahurian larch tree (L. gmelinii/L.
dahurica) is found in central Siberia and as far east as Kamchatka, Russia.3, 4 Siberian larch (L. sibirica) is also found in Siberia. European larch (L. decidua) is cultivated in central Europe. Japanese larch (L. leptolepis/L. kaempferi) is found in Japan. Eastern larch (L. laricina) and Western larch (L.
occidentalis) grow in North America.4
Larch trees were reportedly introduced in Great Britain in 1639 and have been cultivated there since the early 19th century. The tree is grown mainly for its timber, but the inner bark and resin are also used.
1 Arabinogalactan constituents from certain Larix spp. have gained popularity because of their ability to enhance the immune system.
5 Dietary sources of arabinogalactans include carrots, tomatoes, pears, radishes, and red wine.4, 6
Arabinogalactans are present in the species L. dahurica and L. occidentalis.
7, 8, 9 Arabinogalactans belong to a group of carbohydrates known as hemicelluloses, which are long, densely-branched polysaccharides of varying weights widely found throughout the plant kingdom and in some microbial systems, especially acid-fast mycobacterium.
4, 10 Anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, and anticomplement effects are generally associated with lower-weight polysaccharides. Higher-weight polysaccharides simulate natural killer cell cytotoxicity.2 Arabinogalactans are abundant in the genus Larix and are most often covalently linked to pectin and protein.
5, 7 For example, the powdered extract from the pine bark of the western larch tree (L. occidentalis) is 98% arabinogalactan. The extract has a pine odor, a sweet taste, and is nonviscous and easily soluble in water.5 It also possesses stability over various concentrations, pH levels, and temperatures.
10 Western larch arabinogalactan is made of galactose and arabinose molecules in a 6:1 ratio.2, 4, 10 All arabinogalactans isolated thus far from Larix are of the 3,6-beta-D-galactan type.7 The extract is harvested from already fallen trees, or from waste larch product from the lumber industry.
A benefit of this natural polymer is that it possesses great uniformity. Batch variation is not a problem among larch trees, as it is with other natural products.5 According to one report, arabinogalactans from L. occidentalis have been isolated, characterized, and purified.9 The properties of arabinogalactans from L. dahurica have also been documented, and were found to comprise a homogeneous product with very narrow molecular weight distribution.7
Other constituents from Larix have been identified. Larix flavonoids from various species have been analyzed, including flavanones (naringenin, hesperitin, hesperidin), flavones (apigenin, vitexin), and flavonols (kaempferols, quercetins, isorhamnetins, myricetins, syringetins).11 L.
decidua contains lignans, resins, and volatile oil (mainly alpha- and beta-pinene and limonene).1 18-nor-abietatrienes and diterpenes, including abietane-type diterpenes (eg, 7alpha,15-dihydroxyabieta-8,11,13-trien-18-al), have been isolated from the species L. kaempferi.12, 13 Phenolics (flavonoids) from L. leptolepis have been reported.
14 The resin constituent diterpene has been documented in L. europaea.15
Uses and Pharmacology
Arabinogalactans are often used for their immunostimulating effects; they stimulate phagocytosis to enhance the immune response.
16 Arabinogalactans have been reported to increase the release of interferons, tumor necrosis factors (TNFs), and interleukins, all of which are known to enhance immune function.
It has been suggested that larch arabinogalactan acts indirectly through microbiota-dependent mechanisms (eg, production of short-chain fatty acids) that impact the immune response and/or acts directly after passage to the immune cells through the intestinal barrier.
4 Arabinogalactans have also been studied as a means to boost antibody response to vaccines. Results from clinical studies suggest that arabinogalactan may exert its immunostimulant effects by reducing infections and enhancing antibody response to immunizations.
Liver metastases in animals have been inhibited by arabinogalactans.5 When pretreated with arabinogalactans extracted from L. occidentalis, human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and other cell lines have shown enhancement of natural killer cytotoxicity against certain tumor cells.17
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 48 healthy females, the combination of larch arabinogalactan (1.
5 g/day) with Echinacea purpurea (464 mg/day) and Echinacea angustifolia (36 mg/day) for 4 weeks resulted in an 18% increase in complement properdin, as well as improved overall physical and emotional health as measured by Short-Form 36 Health Survey.
A reduction in TNF-alpha levels was noted in this treatment group as well as in the larch arabinogalactan only group. GI function, sleep, mood, and emotional health item scores (measured using the Symptoms Specific Assessment tool) decreased, indicating an improvement in the larch arabinogalactan plus E. purpurea plus E. angustifolia group.18
In another study, 199 healthy volunteers who had experienced at least 3 common colds within a 6-month period were randomized to receive arabinogalactan 4.5 g or placebo for 12 weeks. Treatment with arabinogalactan reduced the mean number of common cold occurrences (0.83; confidence interval [CI], 0.
67 to 0.99) compared with placebo (1.06; CI, 0.89 to 1.23; P=0.055). The intensity and duration of symptoms were not significantly different between the 2 groups. However, the percentage of days without cold symptoms was higher in the treatment group (91.2%) compared with placebo (88.
The Blood Type Diets : Ara 6: Larch Arabinogalactan
Greg Kelly, ND
I went to lunch yesterday at a local health food store (they make great soup) and while I was walking through the supplement section I noticed an attractive floor display. But what really grabbed my attention about this particular display was that it contained a “new” immune-boosting product called “Larch Arabinogalactan.
” It makes me smile to see this product getting attention in the natural foods industry, because this product is far from new to naturopathic physicians.
Ultimately the reason Naturopaths are so familiar with this compound, and probably the lion's share of the reason it now graces the shelves of health food stores can be traced to one individual — Peter D'Adamo, N.D.
The historical story of “Larch Arabinogalactan,” as I have heard it, is actually quite interesting, so I will share parts of it with you. Arabinogalactan is a specific polysaccharide, and polysaccharides interact with blood type. So, it is not surprising to discover that Dr.
D'Adamo has had a passionate interest in polysaccharide research for more than a decade. Because of this interest, years ago now, Dr. D'Adamo was scanning research articles and came across a Japanese study (written in Japanese) which just happened to have several words written in English…”Echinacea” and “Arabinogalactan.
” This ignited the spark that would eventually lead to his use of this product.
While information on the health benefits of Arabinogalactan were non-existent to scarce at this point in time, the connection with Echinacea led Dr. D'Adamo to ponder whether it might have immune benefiting effects.
However, a source of concentrated arabinogalactans was not as easy to find 8-10 years ago as it is today. His search for a source of Arabinogalactan eventually led him to the lumber industry. The larch tree, as it turns out, is a rich source of this polysaccharide.
But up until this point in time, it had been regarded solely as a fiber. Before long, 50-100 pound bags of bulk “Larch Arabinogalactan” began to show up at the D'Adamo Clinic in Greenwich, CT. Dr. D'Adamo's research of this natural product now moved into full swing.
In fact, patients will still tell you stories about the plastic baggies filled with a “fluffy, white powder” and how this product helped them.
By the time I was in naturopathic school, Dr. D'Adamo had introduced the use of this product into Naturopathic Medicine. Before I had graduated, he had published his first review article on the health benefits of Larch Arabinogalactan. The rest, as they say, is history.
So, from its rather inauspicious beginnings—as an underutilized leftover from the logging industry—to one man's curiosity—Larch Arabinogalactan has now arrived as an emerging new darling of the natural foods industry.
So let's learn a bit more about this natural product. As I have said, arabinogalactans are a class of polysaccharides found in a wide range of plants; however, they are most abundant in plants of the genus Larix (larch tree is Larix occidentalis).
High-grade or nutraceutical-grade Larch Arabinogalactan (the grade typically utilized for supplements) is composed of greater than 98% arabinogalactan. As produced, Larch Arabinogalactan is a dry, free-flowing powder, with a very slight pine- 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 (even to children).
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 (SCFA's), principally butyrate and proprionate.
These special fatty acids are critically important for the health of the colon.
In fact, having an adequate supply of SCFA's is thought to make colon cells more resistant to both tumor promotion and a variety of intestinal disease.
Larch Arabinogalactan also 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.
In effect, when we consume Larch Arabinogalactan, we are rewarded by this significant positive effect on our gut microfloral balance. Specifically, this fiber acts to increase good bacteria bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, while decreasing bad bacteria.
Since these friendly bacteria are critically important for the health of our digestive and immune systems, detoxification and hormone regulating capabilities, and nutrient formation and absorption; the growth promoting effects of Larch Arabinogalactan on these organisms alone makes it a valuable addition to our diet.
While Larch Arabinogalactan has a huge impact on digestive health, it has received even more attention for its ability to promote the health of our immune system. It was this possibility that first drew Dr. D'Adamo's curiosity.
The immune system is a very complex system. A healthy immune system is, in many respects, the core of prevention or resistance against disease. While it might be easy to assume that, with respect to immune system function or response, “more is better”…this is not always the case.
In fact, most things in life, your immune system's performance is more about an “appropriate” response, than it is about simply an “increased” response.
Many chronic health challenges are predictably associated with some parts of your immune system “under-achieving;” however, it is just as common in these same circumstances to have other parts of the immune system “over-achieving.” So, in simple terms, immune system health is all about “balance.”
Substances, which promote a balanced response to stress, are called “adaptogens.” Larch Arabinogalactan appears to act as an “adaptogenic” agent on your immune system…lifting up weak aspects and balancing down over-achieving aspects.
So, while this supplement is currently primarily thought of as something to improve or stimulate immune system activity, it would be more appropriately described as a substance with an ability to build a more responsive immune system…
or in effect, an immune system that is better able to function in a balanced and appropriate manner in the face of the challenges we face today.
Safety and dosage
Larch Arabinogalactan is FDA approved for use in food applications. Toxicity tests in animals indicates that Larch Arabinogalactan is significantly less toxic than methylcellulose (one of the most commonly supplemented fibers).
Clinical feedback suggests an occasional reaction of bloating and flatulence in less than 3 percent of individuals (most often women).
This side effect is probably secondary to the effect Larch Arabinogalactan has on beneficially altering gut microflora and will often disappear after several days to 1 week.
As an addition to the diet, the usual dose is 1-3 grams daily (1000-3000 mg). However, much larger amounts can be taken if desired (up to 2-3 tablespoons daily).
Larch Arabinogalactan is available in powder, capsules, and tablets from various supplement companies.
Since it mixes very well with juice or water, and is more cost-effective as a powder as compared to capsules or tablets, I usually use the powder form. However, its effectiveness is similar whether taken as powder, capsule or tablet.
Larch Arabinogalactan: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions
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