The primary function of the immune system is to protect the body against infections by pathogenic viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. It also plays a key role in removing dead body cells and repairing damage caused by strong light, irradiation and environmental toxins. Occasionally, the immune system may over-react or be brought out of balance. Such imbalances can result in immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, certain types of asthma, and other fairly common health conditions. The immune response can also be suppressed, resulting in reduced overall resistance to infections and impaired ability to counter development of cancer. Thus, a properly functioning immune system is a prerequisite for good health.
By Jan Raa, Hasselhaugveien 30, N-0851 Oslo, Norway
Chemistry of beta-1,3/1,6-glucans
Beta-glucans comprise a very diverse group of polysaccharides (even paper) in which glucose molecules — as the only building block — are linked together by beta-linkages. Only very few beta-glucan structures, notably beta-1,3/1,6-glucans, are bioactive in the sense that they interact with receptors on immune cells and elicit specific biological responses.