Arabinogalactans have long been used as a dietary fiber and have recently been shown to significantly boost the immune system. So what exactly is an arabinogalactan (AG) and where does it come from? Well, arabinogalactans in general belong to a group of carbohydrates called polysaccharides and these are known to offer numerous health benefits. While they are abundant in a wide range of plants, they are most commonly sourced from the western larch tree (larix species), thus larch arabinogalactan is what is readily available in supplement form.
Larch AG is thought to stimulate the immune system in several different ways and by doing so it provides excellent protection against viral and bacterial infections and has even been shown to have anti-cancer properties.
Larch AG acts as a food supply to friendly intestinal bacteria, making it what we call a “prebiotic”. Thus when consumed it has a positive effect on the microflora in your gut. It does this by providing substance for the microflora to ferment, resulting in the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate and propionate. These SCFAs are critical to the health of the colon. They protect the intestinal lining against disease and cancer promoting agents by providing the main energy source for the colonic cells and increasing beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus. Larch AG is essentially a wonderful way to balance the microflora protect the gastrointestinal tract in general. Since the majority of the immune system resides in the gastrointestinal tract, this is one of the mechanisms in which Larch AG is able to boost the immune system.
Another way this wonderful compound enhances the immune system is through macrophage and natural killer (NK) cell activation. By stimulating these two important immune system components, larch AG is able to directly affect the body’s ability to target outside invaders like bacteria and viruses as well as cancerous or precancerous cells. It has been shown to be especially useful in boosting NK activity in patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, viral hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and autoimmune diseases.
Approved by the FDA as both a food and a dietary fiber, Larch AG is considered a safe and effective immune stimulating supplement. Due to its effect on the microflora in the gastrointestinal tract, its only side effects are mild bloating and flatulence, but these are usually short lived and are only experienced by a small percentage of people. It can be taken daily to improve gut health and to boost immunity or it can be taken during acute illness. Its mild taste and excellent solubility in water and juice makes it a wonderful immune supplement for children as well as adults.
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