Use of beta-glucan may elevate white-blood-cell (WBC) counts (leukocytosis). A phase-II, multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of three dosages of beta-glucan was conducted in a population of surgical patients. Doses of 0.1 mg=kg, 0.5 mg=kg, or 1.0 or 2.0 mg=kg of the supplement were administered to 67 patients who were at a high risk for developing postsurgical infections after thoracic or abdominal surgery. Serious infections developed in 4 patients who received the placebo, in 3 patients who took the lowest dose of 0.1 mg=kg, and in only 1 patient who received one of the higher doses. Generalized leukocytosis was observed; however, the researchers concluded that beta-glucan was safe, well-tolerated, and may decrease postoperative infection rates.9 The elevated WBC counts seen in these patients may have resulted because the body's defenses are rallied by beta-glucan. This demonstrates the supplement's therapeutic efficacy. However, if use of beta-glucan or other immune-stimulating substances are not reported to clinicians, elevated WBC counts in patients who take the supplement might cause their health providers to believe that such patients have infections or other immunity problems that are actually nonexistent.
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