The February, 2013 issue of the European Journal of Nutrition published the results of a clinical trial conducted in Germany which found a protective effect for beta-glucan derived from brewers' yeast against the risk of acquiring the common cold, as well as a reduction in cold severity.
One hundred sixty-two healthy men and women with recurring colds were randomized to receive 900 milligrams (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-glucan or a placebo daily for 16 weeks. Participants were instructed to document common cold episodes and rate their symptoms, which included headache, joint pain, sore throat, feeling of lump in the throat and/or difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, cough, runny nose, nasal congestion, cold-related sleeping difficulties and fever. The subjects underwent examinations by a study investigator on the fifth day of each illness.
At the end of the trial, those who received beta-glucan had 25 percent fewer colds than the placebo group. Cold symptom scores were 15 percent lower on average, and cold-related sleep difficulties were significantly reduced by beta-glucan.
"The present placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind intervention study provides clinical evidence that supplementation with yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-glucan helps to reduce the occurrence of symptomatic common cold infections by 25% as compared to placebo," Annegret Auinger and colleagues write. "This is in line with a recently published trial demonstrating the prophylactic effect of the same yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-glucan preparation on the incidence and severity of common cold infections. Thus, since the susceptibility to get a common cold is closely related to the body's immune status, both studies independently suggest the potential of yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-glucan to stimulate the host immune system in order to provide defense against common cold viral attacks."
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