Hee, hee, something new to read about. :-)
Here in the SF Bay Area, there's a trend toward serving live (freshly killed) "spotted" shrimp. According to the following abstract, these spots reflect some kind of disease that could be treated with beta-1,3-glucans. Kind of takes the excitement out of it...
Dev Biol Stand 1997;90:413-421
Glucan-induced disease resistance in tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon).
Song YL, Liu JJ, Chan LC, Sung HH
Department of Zoology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, ROC.
Non-specific disease resistance induced by yeast cell wall extract, beta-1,3-1,6-glucan, was demonstrated in the tiger shrimp. In this study beta-1,3-1,6-glucan was administered to shrimps by immersion before culturing and orally during the culturing period. Challenge of the treated shrimps with the virulent pathogens, Vibrio vulnificus and viral agents extracted from the white spot syndrome victims, yielded promising results. The tolerance of glucan-treated shrimps was slightly enhanced to stresses including catching, transport and ammonia. The growth and survival rates of treated and untreated shrimps were not significantly different. Therefore, we suggest that beta-1,3-1,6-glucan can be used as an immuno-stimulant of cultured shrimps and may benefit shrimp farmers.
I think it's curious that the NSC site lists the following as a reference, when it finds that the substances does no better than placebo in topical tests...perhaps it's full disclosure?
Australas J Dermatol 1996 Aug;37(3):137-138
Beta-1,3-D-glucan gel in the treatment of solar keratoses.
Tong DW, Barnetson RS
Department of Dermatology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Comperdown, Australia.
beta-1,3-D-glucans are yeast-derived carbohydrate polymers which have been shown to be potent immunoresponse modulators which promote the regression of certain tumours. To date there is no published data concerning the efficacy of topical beta-1,3-D-glucan in the treatment of solar keratoses. This randomized double-blind prospective pilot study of 20 patients was performed to investigate the efficacy and skin tolerance of beta-1,3-D-glucan gel versus placebo in the treatment of solar keratoses. The results of this study showed no significant benefit in using beta-1,3-D-glucan gel over placebo in reducing counts of solar keratoses. No adverse effects were reported by any patient at any stage of the trial.
Since there are so many studies on "glucans," including the by now famous beta glucans in oat bran, and respiratory irritation caused by airborne beta-1,3-glucans, I don't think I'm going to start popping any of these tablets without a lot better understanding of what they do.