Beta Glucans and the Beauty Within

by Karen V. Bowers
Source: Health Action, Summer 2011

Many studies have shown that beta glucan, a simple substance derived from baker's yeast and oats, has a remarkable influence on our ­immune system. Beta glucan interacts with specific cells, namely ­macrophages, stimulating the healing responses for many health and aging conditions. Studies have shown that it promotes wound healing, combats wrinkles and reduces scarring following surgical procedures, and it is being used in pharmacy and medicine for the treatment of cold sores. There is also an application in the works to use glucan as a non-invasive alternative to Botox.

Turns on macrophages

Macrophages are key to our ­immunity; they recognize and destroy any cells, organisms and substances that don't belong in or on the body, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, heavy metals, bits of dead or changed tissues, and dead, mutated or tumour cells.

The research supporting the claims for beta glucan began decades ago. In the 1980s at Harvard University, Joyce Czop, PhD, found the specific receptor sites for beta glucan on the surface of the macrophage. Donald J. Carrow, MD, a physician based in Tampa, Florida, has used beta glucan successfully with many patients. He explains, "When the macrophage is activated by this contact with beta glucan, it starts a cascade of events turning the cells into an 'arsenal of ­defense.' "

Penetrates deep into the skin

In the field of anti-aging, topical application of oat beta glucan has been demonstrated to be more effective at removing wrinkles than that of the yeast variety. In 1980 at the University of Alberta's faculties of pharmacy, a research group consisting of Dr. Mark Redmond, CEO of Ceapro, Ravi Pillai and Joachim Roding investigated skin penetration and the ­anti-aging effects of oat beta glucan. They were able to see an improvement in wrinkles and moisture levels within 10 days. Another study used 27 subjects with 0.1 percent topical beta glucan, or a placebo, applied twice a day for eight weeks. By the end of the study the digital analysis of the beta glucan-treated areas showed significantly reduced roughness and wrinkling (of up to 15 percent) versus the placebo. Skin firmness was also increased.

Dr. Redmond remarked, "As a result of our study, we now know that glucan works through the intercellular lipid matrix, or the cells' cement, to enter the lower levels of the skin. Of medical significance is the fact that beta glucan creams promote wound healing and reduction in scarring following surgical procedures."

A new remedy from ancient times

Since Roman times, oats have been used topically to soothe and heal inflammation and to ease the itching responses of allergies and insect bites. However, today there's a simpler way to deliver this age-old remedy and combined it with modern medicine when needed. 

Dr. Redmond's research team at Ceapro has discovered that beta glucan can be used as a transdermal delivery system to feed drugs and other compounds into the skin. This development may lead to new and better ways of delivering such medicines as antihistamines and pain relievers. Wouldn't you agree that this seems more efficient, less time consuming and not as messy as rubbing grains of oats everywhere to get relief from dry irritated skin? 

Founder of New Visage Advanced Skin Care, Karen V. Bowers has 33 years of experience throughout Canada, US and Europe. (604) 893-8872
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