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1. Biologics - Biological components such as amino acids and its derivatives which modifies certain functions
2. Bulking Agent - Non-nutritious or inactive substances added to increase stability of the mixture.
3. Dietary / Nutritional Supplement - Vitamins, minerals, proteins, fatty acids or probiotics that improves nutritional intake
4. Drug / Medicine - Treats, alleviates, cures, or prevents sickness. As officially declared by a governmental drug/medicine regulatory body
Beta-glucans are a group of β-D-glucose polysaccharides naturally occurring in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants, such as oats and barley. Our body does not produce beta-glucans on its own, it is available only by consuming these foods or when consumed through functional foods, beverages, and supplements that have been fortified with the nutritional ingredient. The three most common sources of beta-glucans are cereal grains, mushrooms, and common baker’s yeast. [1]
Beta-glucans are sometimes used as medicine. People apply beta-glucans to the skin for dermatitis, eczema, wrinkles, bedsores, wounds, burns, diabetic ulcers, and radiation burns. Beta-glucans are also used as a food additive in products such as salad dressings, frozen desserts, sour cream, and cheese spreads. They are also used as a texturizer and fat substitute. [1]
Recent Findings:
Beta-glucans (β-glucans) can be used in the “maintenance of healthy skin and the cosmetic treatment of the signs of aging”. [2] It penetrates the skin easily despite its large molecular size and “significant reduction of wrinkle depth and height” only after a single application of 0.5% oat beta-glucan. [2]
Beta-glucans can also be formed from the by-product of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). [3] The extract was formulated into an oil-in-water emulsion and no irritation of the 5% beta-glucan cream was found in a study conducted on 15 female volunteers. [3] Beta-glucan exhibited “free radical scavenging effects” and “can be used as a cosmetic ingredient because of its protective effect against oxidative stress induce by the UVA radiation, its anti-wrinkle efficacy in addition to its nourishing effect”. [3] Additionally, the yeast extract which the beta-glucan was extracted from, contains plenty of amino acids such as peptides and nucleic acids (1Source refers to them as biologics). Yeast extract can “promote collagen synthesis, acts as an anti-inflammatory, moisturize and revitalize the skin”. [3]
Schizophyllum commune and Agaricus subrufescens (types of mushroom), are both known to have medicinal properties “especially in the production of β-glucans”. [4] “Chitin-glucan is a copolymer found in the cell wall of certain fungi including Aspergillus niger”. [4] Where chitin is a polysaccharide predominantly found in plants, and is structurally similar to keratin (both human hair and nails are made from keratin). “Chitin-glucan has good moisturizing properties and can help fight against some of the signs of skin aging and has potential for use in skin moisturizing and anti-aging formulations”. [4]
In a study, chitin-glucan in a 30:70 and 50:50 ratio was used at a concentration of 0-2% for a 6-week, randomized, double-blind trial on 13 women with skin sensitivity, followed by a concentration of 1.5% for a 16-week, randomized, double-blind trial on 20 men. [5] Overall, results were statistically significant in both trials, with the chitin-glucan based formulation resulting in decreased transepidermal water loss (TEWL), improvement in skin topography (wrinkles) and reduced “skin surface harshness”. [5]
There have also been reports of “antimutagenic effect for β-glucans extracted from A. blazei (a type of mushroom)”. [6] β-glucans from the ripest spores of various mushrooms proved to be the most effective against liver cancer in vitro (HepG2 cell line). [6] Although β-glucans have no genotoxic effects, their DNA protective effects are limited compared to chemotherapy medication like doxorubicin. [6]
Dietary beta-glucans (Glucagel™) at 0% (control), 1%, 5%, 10% have shown no adverse side effects and no toxicological effects when fed to Wistar rats over a period of 28 days. [7] The consumption of concentrated beta-glucans has also shown to lower blood cholesterol. [7]
Scientific References:
2. Anti-Wrinkle Therapy: Significant New Findings in the Non-Invasive Cosmetic Treatment of Skin Wrinkles with Beta-Glucan. (Int. J. Cosmet. Sci., 27(5), 292–292. doi:10.1111/j.1463-1318.2005.00268_3.x)
3. Development of skincare cosmetic from yeast beta-glucans (Thai J. Pharm. Sci., 2016(40), 9-12)
4. Fungi—an unusual source for cosmetics. (Fungal Divers., 43(1), 1–9. doi:10.1007/s13225-010-0043-3)
5. Chitin-glucan, a natural cell scaffold for skin moisturization and rejuvenation. (Int. J. Cosmet. Sci., 30(6), 459–469. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2494.2008.00470.x)
6. Evaluation of the antigenotoxicity of polysaccharides and β-glucans from Agaricus blazei, a model study with the single cell gel electrophoresis/Hep G2 assay. (J. Food Compost. Anal., 22(7-8), 699–703. doi:10.1016/j.jfca.2009.03.003)
7. 28-Day oral toxicity study in rats with high purity barley beta-glucan (Glucagel™). (Food Chem. Toxicol., 48(1), 422–428. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2009.10.034)

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