Table of Contents > Herbs & Supplements > Arabinogalactan Print

Arabinogalactan

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Also listed as: Larch, Larix
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • AG, alpha-arabinofuranose, Ambrotose®, amphotericin B-arabinogalactan conjugates, Andrographis paniculata, arabinans, arabinogalactan protein, arabinogalactan pectin, arabinose, BCG-CWS, Biophytum petersianum Klotzsch, Biophytum sensitivum (L.) DC, Codium dwarkense, Codium tomentosum, D-arabino-D-galactan, D-galactopyranose, D-galactose, D-glucose, D-rhamnose, Echinacea purpurea, Euonymus sieboldiana seeds, fiber, galactan, galactosamine, galactose, galacturonic acid, GalN, glucuronic acid, Juniperus scopolorum cones, Kaki fruits, L-arabinofuranose, L-arabinose, larch, larch arabinogalactan, larch gum, larch tree, Larix, Larix decidua, Larix kaempferi, Larix laricina, Larix occidentalis, Lch, Mongolian larch, Mongolian larchwood, mountain larch, mugwort pollen, Mycobacterium avium, Mycobacterium bovis BCG, Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guerin, Mycobacterium leprae, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium vaccae, neutral arabinogalactan, Nocardia, pectic arabinogalactan, Pinaceae (family), polysaccharide, ragweed pollen, rhamno-arabinogalactans, rhamnose, Silene vulgaris, soluble fiber, stractan, sulfated arabinogalactan, tamarack, Trichilia emetica, ukonan C, Vk2a, Vk100A2a, Vernonia kotschyana, Viscum album, western larch, western tamarack, wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), wood gum, wood sugar, xylose.
  • Note: Arabinogalactan is found in many species of plants and is thought to be the primary active compound in the larch tree (Larix spp.). This monograph includes studies on arabinogalactan isolated from other species of plants as well.

Background
  • Arabinogalactans belong to a group of carbohydrates called polysaccharides. When consumed in the diet, arabinogalactan comes from the wood of the larch tree (Larix species) and is approved for use as a dietary fiber by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • As a dietary supplement, larch arabinogalactan is used to stimulate the immune system, to fight cancer, and as a prebiotic (a substance used to improve bacteria in the colon). Early study suggests that arabinogalactan may help grow beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. However, human study has not found that the larch arabinogalactan stimulates the immune system.
  • Future uses of arabinogalactan may include simultaneous use with certain drugs, because arabinogalactan may improve drug effectiveness when used together.
  • Arabinogalactans are found in the cell walls of plants and bacteria and in pollen from mugwort and ragweed that causes allergies. Although these arabinogalactans are also discussed in this monograph, there is no evidence to suggest that dietary arabinogalactans from larch or other plant species have similar effects.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


It is unclear what effect arabinogalatan has on blood cholesterol levels, including triglycerides, in patients with high cholesterol. Limited early study did not show an effect of arabinogalactan in patients with normal cholesterol levels. More studies are needed.

C


Arabinogalactan's effects on blood sugar and insulin levels have been studied. In people without diabetes, it has not been shown to affect these levels. Additional research is needed.

C


Early research has identified immune-stimulating activity in arabinogalactan, however, its effect on immunity in healthy volunteers is not clear. More evidence is needed.

C


Although early results of arabinogalactan's effect in patients with chronic kidney failure are promising, more studies are needed.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Allergies, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, autoimmune disorders, bipolar disorder, bladder infections, blood thinner, cancer, colitis, common cold, Crohn's disease, depression, digestive tonic, Down's syndrome, dry eyes, ear infections, encephalopathy (brain disease), endometriosis, eye problems (scratches), fatigue, fibromyalgia, flu, gene therapy, gout, learning disabilities, leprosy, liver protection, mood enhancement, multiple sclerosis, parasites (leishmania), sepsis (blood infection caused by endotoxin), skin conditions, stomach problems (gastritis), ulcers, wound healing, yeast infection.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for arabinogalactan. 8.4 to 50 grams arabinogalactan has been used daily for up to six months. Up to 1,500 milligrams of larch arabinoglactan has been used.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for arabinogalactan, and use in children is not recommended.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with allergy or hypersensitivity to arabinogalactan or larch.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Arabinogalactan may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or low blood sugar and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Arabinogalactan may cause bloating and abdominal discomfort in people with digestive disorders. Use with caution in people who consume a high-fiber diet or a low-galactose diet.
  • Arabinogalactan may have an effect on immune function and should be used with caution in people with immune disorders.
  • Occupational exposure to larch dust may cause chronic lung, eye, and skin irritation.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Arabinogalactan is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Arabinogalactan may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using drugs that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or injection should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Arabinogalactan may have an additive effect when taken with immune modulating, anti-cancer, cholesterol-lowering, anti-gout, anti-fungal, and antibiotic drugs, as well as drugs that are eliminated by the kidney. Arabinogalactan may also interact with amphotericin B, nucleotide analogs, and antituberculosis drugs.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Arabinogalactan may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Arabinogalactan may have an additive effect when taken with immune modulating, anti-cancer, cholesterol-lowering, anti-gout, anti-fungal, antibiotic, antituberculosis, and antioxidant herbs and supplements, as well as herbs and supplements that are eliminated by the kidney. Arabinogalactan may also interact with echinacea, mugwort, ragweed, prebiotics, and probiotics.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Ambrus JL, Ambrus CM, Shields R, et al. Effect of galactose and sugar substitutes on blood insulin levels in normal and obese individuals. J Med 1976;7(6):429-438.
  2. Deters AM, Lengsfeld C, Hensel A. Oligo- and polysaccharides exhibit a structure-dependent bioactivity on human keratinocytes in vitro. J Ethnopharmacol 12-1-2005;102(3):391-399.
  3. Ehrenfreund-Kleinman T, Domb AJ, Jaffe CL, et al. The effect of amphotericin b derivatives on Leishmania and immune functions. J Parasitol 2005 Feb;91(1):158-63.
  4. Kim LS, Waters RF, Burkholder PM. Immunological activity of larch arabinogalactan and Echinacea: a preliminary, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Altern Med Rev 2002;7(2):138-149.
  5. Kremer LS, Besra GS. Current status and future development of antitubercular chemotherapy. Expert Opin Investig Drugs 2002;11(8):1033-1049.
  6. Marett R, Slavin JL. No long-term benefits of supplementation with arabinogalactan on serum lipids and glucose. J Am Diet Assoc 2004;104(4):636-639.
  7. Morris SL. Antigens of the Mycobacterium avium, Mycobacterium intracellulare complex. Eur J Epidemiol 1991;7(4):328-338.
  8. Muchmore AV, Decker JM, Blaese RM. Spontaneous cytotoxicity by human peripheral blood monocytes: inhibition by monosaccharides and oligosaccharides. Immunobiology 1981;158(3):191-206.
  9. Rampton DS, Cohen SL, Crammond VD, et al. Treatment of chronic renal failure with dietary fiber. Clin Nephrol 1984;21(3):159-163.
  10. Robinson RR, Feirtag J, Slavin JL. Effects of dietary arabinogalactan on gastrointestinal and blood parameters in healthy human subjects. J Am Coll Nutr 2001;20(4):279-285.
  11. Shanmugam M, Mody KH, Siddhanta,AK. Blood anticoagulant sulphated polysaccharides of the marine green algae Codium dwarkense (Boergs.) and C. tomentosum (Huds.) Stackh. Indian J Exp Biol 2001;39(4):365-370.
  12. Roxas M, Jurenka J. Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations. Altern Med Rev 2007;12(1):25-48.
  13. Sensi P. Approaches to the development of new antituberculosis drugs. Rev.Infect.Dis. 1989;11 Suppl 2:S467-S470.
  14. Singha PK, Roy S, Dey S. Antimicrobial activity of Andrographis paniculata. Fitoterapia 2003;74(7-8):692-694.
  15. Stein GM, Edlund U, Pfuller U, et al. Influence of polysaccharides from Viscum album L. on human lymphocytes, monocytes and granulocytes in vitro. Anticancer Res 1999;19(5B):3907-3914.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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