Larch ArabinogalactanHypericum perforatum
Arabinogalactins, substances found in many plants, are long molecules made of the sugars galactose and arabinose linked together in a chain. Arabinogalactan extracted from the Western larch tree (larch arabinogalactan, or LA) has been proposed as an immune stimulant.
On the basis of these findings, LA has been advocated as a supplement for
In this trial, 48 healthy women were assigned to receive one of four treatments: LA, echinacea, LA plus echinacea, or placebo.
Other extremely preliminary research hints that LA might enhance the effectiveness of drugs used in
There no doubt, however, that LA is a good dietary fiber source. Like less expensive forms of fiber, it appears to have beneficial effects in the colon.
Based on animal studies and limited evidence in humans, LA appears to be essentially nontoxic. 13 However, like other sources of dietary fiber, LA might lead to colonic problems like bloating and flatulence.
One additional set of potential risks derives from its supposed benefits: If LA does in fact meaningfully stimulate the immune system, it might be dangerous. The immune system is balanced on a knife's edge. An immune system that is too relaxed fails to defend us from infections; an immune system that is too active attacks healthy tissues, causing autoimmune diseases. If LA truly boosts immunity, it might cause or worsen such conditions as
Maximum safe doses in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
1. Currier NL, Lejtenyi D, Miller SC. Effect over time of in-vivo administration of the polysaccharide arabinogalactan on immune and hemopoietic cell lineages in murine spleen and bone marrow. Phytomedicine . 2003;10:145–53.
8. Beuth J, Ko HL, Schirrmacher V, et al. Inhibition of liver tumor cell colonization in two animal tumor models by lectin blocking with D-galactose or arabinogalactan. Clin Exp Metastasis . 1988;6:115–120.
Last reviewed February 2010 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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