The Benefits of Arabinoxylan

Arabinoxylan is a compound sourced from the outer shell of cereal grains (such as wheat and rice). A major component of the dietary fiber found in cereal grains, this compound is available in dietary supplement form. Arabinoxylan is said offer a variety of health benefits, including enhanced immune function.

Uses for Arabinoxylan

In alternative medicine, arabinoxylan is touted as a natural remedy for the following health conditions:

In addition, arabinoxylan is used to stimulate the immune system in people undergoing cancer treatment (including chemotherapy). Some alternative medicine proponents also suggest that arabinoxylan can help fight cancer.

Arabinoxylan is also thought to act as a prebiotic, a type of substance that promotes the growth of probiotics (beneficial bacteria shown to enhance gut health and stimulate the immune system).

Health Benefits of Arabinoxylan

Although few studies have tested the use of dietary supplements containing arabinoxylan, there's some evidence that arabinoxylan may offer a number of health benefits. Here's a look at several findings on arabinoxylan and its health effects:

1)  Diabetes

Arabinoxylan may help manage diabetes, according to a small study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004.

For the study, 15 diabetes patients supplemented their diets with either arabinoxylan-enriched bread and muffins or with bread and muffins made only with whole wheat and white flour. After five weeks, study members given the arabinoxylan-enriched bread and muffins showed a significantly greater improvement in blood sugar control.

Arabinoxylan may also help regulate blood sugar in people without diabetes, suggests a small study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000. After consuming a breakfast containing arabinoxylan-enriched bread, study members were found to have significantly lower blood sugar concentrations (compared to when they consumed a breakfast that did not contain arabinoxylan-enriched bread). The study included 14 healthy participants.

2)  Gastrointestinal Health

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2012 indicates that arabinoxylan may help improve gut health. In a clinical trial involving 63 healthy adults, the study's authors observed that consuming 10 grams of arabinoxylan-enriched wheat bran every day for three weeks was associated with improvement in several markers of gastrointestinal health, including a decrease in the frequency of constipation occurrence.

3)  Obesity

Preliminary research suggests that arabinoxylan may have anti-obesity effects. In a 2011 study published in PLoS One, for example, mice fed an arabinoxylan-enriched diet experienced a decrease in fat tissue and weight gain.

Arabinoxylan also appeared to help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and improve insulin sensitivity. However, it's presently unknown whether arabinoxylan might help fight obesity in humans.

4)  Cancer

Arabinoxylan shows promise in the treatment of some forms of cancer. For instance, a study published in Anticancer Research in 2010 found that a combination of arabinoxylan and an interventional therapy involving chemotherapy was beneficial in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma. Compared to study members given the interventional therapy only, those assigned to the combination treatment had a lower recurrence of the disease, a higher rate of survival, and a greater decrease in tumor volume. The three-year-long clinical trial included 68 patients.

It's very important to note that more research is needed before arabinoxylan can be recommended in treatment of any type of cancer.

Caveats

Safety data on long-term use or regular of arabinoxylan are currently lacking. However, since arabinoxylan may lower blood sugar levels, there's some concern that using arabinoxylan in combination with diabetes medications may have harmful effects.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Where to Find It

Dietary supplements containing arabinoxylan are sold in some natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in natural products. You can also purchase arabinoxylan online.

Using Arabinoxylan for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend arabinoxylan for the prevention or treatment of any condition. It's important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using arabinoxylan for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.

Sources

Bang MH, Van Riep T, Thinh NT, Song le H, Dung TT, Van Truong L, Van Don L, Ky TD, Pan D, Shaheen M, Ghoneum M. "Arabinoxylan rice bran (MGN-3) enhances the effects of interventional therapies for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma: a three-year randomized clinical trial." Anticancer Res. 2010 Dec;30(12):5145-51.

Broekaert WF, Courtin CM, Verbeke K, Van de Wiele T, Verstraete W, Delcour JA. "Prebiotic and other health-related effects of cereal-derived arabinoxylans, arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides, and xylooligosaccharides." Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Feb;51(2):178-94. 

François IE, Lescroart O, Veraverbeke WS, Marzorati M, Possemiers S, Evenepoel P, Hamer H, Houben E, Windey K, Welling GW, Delcour JA, Courtin CM, Verbeke K, Broekaert WF. "Effects of a wheat bran extract containing arabinoxylan oligosaccharides on gastrointestinal health parameters in healthy adult human volunteers: a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial." Br J Nutr. 2012 Dec 28;108(12):2229-42.

Lu ZX, Walker KZ, Muir JG, Mascara T, O'Dea K. "Arabinoxylan fiber, a byproduct of wheat flour processing, reduces the postprandial glucose response in normoglycemic subjects." Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May;71(5):1123-8.

Lu ZX, Walker KZ, Muir JG, O'Dea K. "Arabinoxylan fibre improves metabolic control in people with Type II diabetes." Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Apr;58(4):621-8.

Neyrinck AM, Possemiers S, Druart C, Van de Wiele T, De Backer F, Cani PD, Larondelle Y, Delzenne NM. "Prebiotic effects of wheat arabinoxylan related to the increase in bifidobacteria, Roseburia and Bacteroides/Prevotella in diet-induced obese mice." PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20944.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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