Beta-glucan ingredient may benefit cold and flu symptoms

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Upper respiratory tract, Immune system

Beta-glucan ingredient may benefit cold and flu symptoms
Daily supplements of the beta-glucan based ingredient Wellmune WGP may reduce the number of days suffering from cold and flu symptoms, says a new study from the UK.

A dose of 250 mg per day of the beta-glucan ingredient was associated with an 18% reduction in the total number of days with self-reported symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection (URTIs), according to findings of a study with 100 medical students published in Nutrition​.  

“Strategies to increase the non-specific innate immune response are clinically appealing because these may improve host resistance to diverse immune challenges,”​ wrote researchers from The Dove Clinic in Winchester, UK and the University of Southampton.

“This is particularly relevant to the management of viral URTI given the significant heterogeneity of viral causes, which limits vaccination development.

“An increase of the innate immune response using yeast-derived 1/3,1/6 glucopolysaccharide may also have wider clinical potential such as a role in postoperative infection control.”

The study was funded by Biothera, Inc., the manufacturer of Wellmune WGP.

The ingredient

Wellmune WGP, derived from the cell walls of a proprietary strain of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae​) via a patented manufacturing process, is a natural carbohydrate that activates key immune cells.

Designed for use with foods, beverages and premium supplements, Wellmune can be used in a large number of subcategories in each segment. For example, beverages example, may include dairy, waters, teas, juices, sports drinks and other functional beverages, as well as powdered beverages.

The company claims that Wellmune, unlike other natural products, enhances immune function without over stimulating the immune system, which may be harmful and claims that its mode of action in the body is well understood.

While the new study did not find statistically significant effects on URTI outcomes, the data did indicate that the ingredient “tended to decrease the number of days with reported cold and flu symptoms (P = 0.06) compared with placebo”​, said the researchers.

Study details

The UK-based researchers recruited 97 healthy medical students and randomly assigned them to receive either placebo or 250 milligrams per day of Wellmune WGP for 90 days.

At the end of the study, results showed that students in the active group reported 43 fewer days of URTI symptoms than those on placebo.

“The ability to ‘breathe easily’ was significantly improved in the Wellmune group; the other severity scores showed no significant difference,”​ they noted.

Biochemical analyses showed no differences between the groups for cytokines and chemokines.

“The present study of a healthy student population taking Wellmune 250 mg/d demonstrated a tendency to a decreased number of days with cold or flu symptoms (18% less) compared with placebo,”​ said the researchers.

“The relatively small number of confirmed URTI episodes was below the expected levels and limited the likelihood of achieving statistical significance in the present study,” ​they added.

The results were welcomed by Don Cox, PhD, senior vice president of research and development at Biothera. “The results are consistent with eight other clinical studies regarding the immune support effects of Wellmune WGP,”​ he said.

Source: Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi : 10.1016/j.nut.2011.11.012
“Influence of yeast-derived 1,3/1,6 glucopolysaccharide on circulating cytokines and chemokines with respect to upper respiratory tract infections”
Authors: R. Fuller, H. Butt, P.S. Noakes, J. Kenyon, T.S. Yam, P.C. Calder

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