Can larch arabinogalactan boost my immune system?

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Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Larch arabinogalactan is a natural immune support supplement available at your local drug store and has been tested in several clinical trials. A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial that included 204 healthy adults found that those taking larch arabinogalactan supplements were 57% more likely to stay healthy than non-users. The health measurement looked at the impact on the non-inflammatory, IgG adaptive immune response, when exposed to an  immune challenge.

There’s some preliminary evidence that larch arabinogalactan, an extract from the bark of the larch tree, may boost the immune system, which in turn could help ward off colds.

In one of the most interesting studies, conducted in 2010, people who took powdered larch arabinogalactan every day had a stronger response to a pneumonia vaccine than people who took a similar-looking, similar-tasting powder that didn’t contain the extract.

Other studies show that larch arabinogalactan can rev up the immune cells that hunt and gobble up germy intruders such as bacteria. It also boosts other bacteria-fighting activities of the immune system. Larch arabinogalactan may help ward off ear infections, which frequently add to the unpleasantness of children’s colds. 

Studies are underway to see if the extract reduces the number of colds people catch.

Larch arabinogalactan has a mild taste and easily dissolves in water or juice. Even better, it’s FDA-approved as a source of dietary fiber, so you needn’t have any safety concerns if you want to give it a try. It's meant to be taken daily, so don't wait until the first sneeze or sniffle.

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Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.