Whenever I talk about a healthy sugar, most people think I'm talking about ribose, a popular sugar supplement that's great for your health. But there's another sugar supplement you've probably never heard of that's extremely important for fighting infections, allergies, and even some forms of cancer.
The sugar supplement has been around for a few years. Robbin, a Nutrient Insider reader, recently wrote me and said, "For the past 15 years, I boost my family's immune system every start of the winter season by adding arabinogalactans to their vitamin routine. This is a product derived from Larch trees. It definitely gives us a boost as it works in the intestines. I would like your view on this product and its many uses."
Robbin, I think you've given your own review about this little-known sugar/starch/plant chemical. If you've continued to use the herb for 15 years, then I have to assume you're seeing good results. That's great news. The big question is whether you're getting everything out of the herb that it has to offer.
As you've discovered, arabinogalactan is great for fighting off infections, such as the common cold and flu (including H1N1 or swine flu). It also helps kids fight off ear infections. Some researchers think arabinogalactan is what gives Echinacea its cold-fighting abilities since the plant is a rich source of the chemical. But this starch-like chemical can fight off a lot more than infections.
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Newer studies are showing that this chemical effectively fights off liver cancer and a brain condition caused by liver damage. It might be surprising to find out a sugar supplement can fight cancer. Sugar typically feeds cancer. But like ribose, arabinogalactan has shown the ability to fight cancer. It's important to note that it doesn't fight all cancer — at least we don't know if it can. We have specific research on liver cancer. It seems to have a protective effect on the liver in general.
What I really like about arabinogalactan is that it's more of a regulator than a real fighter (though it has plenty of fight in it). Since it's a type of soluble fiber made up of long, branching chains of sugars, it helps balance the intestines. When you digest this sugar, it ferments and begins to feed the good bacteria Lactobacillus and help it grow. I told you a few weeks ago that taking fiber with probiotics is a great way to boost your digestion and your health. Well, arabinogalactan fulfills both roles.
One of the benefits of taking additional fiber is that it can help lower your cholesterol and keep your blood free of toxins. Since it works so well on the liver, its ability to detox is extremely impressive.
You can find arabinogalactan at just about any health food store in powders, capsules, and tablets. The typical dose is 1-3 grams daily (1,000-3,000 mg). If you're taking the powder, you can safely take up to three tablespoons daily, though not everyone needs this much. If you experience any bloating or flatulence, don't worry. This is part of the product's action on your gut. It happens to about 3% of those who take it. You can cut back on the dose. But even if you don't, this effect will likely disappear within a few days to a week.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND