Larch Arabinogalactan: Your Immune System's New Best Friend

A potent polysaccharide, larch arabinogalactan comes from the Western Larch, a unique pine tree that actually sheds its needles in the fall. Larch arabinogalactan is approved by the FDA as a source of dietary fiber and is also known as a powerful immune booster and immune modulator and, bacteria fighter.

Here’s what you should know about larch arabinogalactan — which we’ll just refer to as “larch” for short.

In nature, larch’s chief function is to help trees recover from injuries suffered during lightning strikes and freeze-thaw cycles. In humans, larch performs a similar function in the gut – soothing, protecting, and ensuring good intestinal and immune system health.

LARCH IS AN EXCELLENT SOURCE OF FIBER AND SHORT-CHAIN FATTY ACIDS

In addition to being an excellent source of dietary fiber, larch helps increase production of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. Since this kat hasn’t talked much about short-chain fatty acids, here are a few things you should know about ’em and why they rock.

1. Larch supports friendly bacteria in the gut, particularly Bifidobacterium longum.
2. Friendly bacteria (think probiotics) support fermentation of dietary fiber and production of short chain fatty acids, which are critical to healthy bowel function.
3. Short-chain fatty acids affect cellular growth and differentiation, the liver’s control of fats and carbohydrates, and energy production for muscles, as well as the kidneys, heart, and brain.
4. Butyrate, in particular, is a short chain fatty acid that is essential for energy generation for colonic epithelial cells.
5. Butyrate protects intestinal mucosa against disease and carcinogens and may induce cell death in colorectal tumor cell lines.

IMMUNE SUPPORT FOR CANCER PATIENTS

Larch stimulates Natural Killer cell effectiveness (otherwise known as cytotoxicity). NK cells play a major role in the rejection of tumors and cells infected by viruses. Interestingly, tumor metastasis is more common in the liver than other organ sites, probably due to an excess of tumor receptor sites in the liver. Animal studies have demonstrated larch’s ability to inhibit or block these tumor receptor sites, thus reducing rogue cell colonization of the liver and also increasing patient survival times.

LARCH, NATURAL KILLER CELLS & CHRONIC DISEASE

Many of you scientifically-minded members know that many chronic diseases–including chronic fatigue syndrome, viral hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis–are characterized by decreased NK cell activity. What most folks don’t know is that larch stimulates healthy NK cell activity and has even been positively associated with recovery in cases of chronic fatigue syndrome. In a 2-year study, NK cells were assessed in patients with the relapsing /remitting type of Multiple Sclerosis. The study concluded that disease severity was indeed correlated with lower NK cell activity. Other studies have noted the same lowered NK cell activity in hepatitis B & C patients. So, larch’s ability to stimulate NK cells is of interest to a whole lot of folks who will never be able to spell “arabinogalactan.” Tee hee. ^..^

ANTI-BACTERIAL IMMUNE SUPPORT, TOO

Larch has also shown a positive effect on decreasing recurrent middle ear infections. Tess is way interested in this particular benefit, as she used to scratch at her ears like a flea-infested Golden Retriever after having trouble with her sinuses (it doesn’t help that Salt Lake City has some of the worst air in the country in the winter time due to inversions). Anyway, back to the research. Studies have shown that larch can enhance immune response to bacterial infection by stimulating phagocytosis or bacterial opsonization. Larch’s antibacterial benefits also fight icky infections by gram negative organisms such as E. coli and Klebsiella species bacteria (these critters are the second most-likely to cause urinary tract infections). Reports show a decrease in occurrence and severity of middle ear infections in tots supplemented preventatively with larch.

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