Glyconutrients

Health Care Professional Information

Brand Name

Ambrotose AO, Manapol

Clinical Summary

Glyconutrients refer to eight plant monosaccharides: galactose, glucose, arabinose, glucosamine, mannose, xylose, rhamnose, and fucose. Related products are mostly marketed by a company called Mannatech under the brand name Ambrotose. Proponents claim that these monosaccharides are essential for the body because they are building blocks of glycoproteins which are used for cell-to-cell communication. They also suggest that modern diet is deficient in monosaccharides and that supplementation can restore cellular health and support the immune system (1). However, strong scientific evidence to support these claims is lacking. 

Glyconutrients are also promoted aggressively to cancer patients through network marketing approach but their benefit is unclear.

Purported Uses
  • Antitumor properties
  • Health maintenance
  • Immunostimulant
Constituents

Commercial products may contain a combination of the following ingredients:
Quercetin dihydrate
Grape pomace extract
Green tea extract
Australia Bush Plum
Gum Arabic
Xanthan
GumGum
TragacanthGum
Ghatti
Aloe vera gel extract
Arabinogalactan
Rice starch
Ghatti Gum
Gum Tragacanth
Glucosamine HCl
Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida)
Algae Extract

Mechanism of Action

Although sugars such as glucose are essential for normal functioning of the body, true deficiencies are rare except in malnourished patients. Humans can convert saccharides into different forms according to the body's needs. More complex polysaccharides, such as beta-glucan, have been studied for their immunomodulating effects, but it is unclear if the marketed products contain substantial amounts of such polysaccharides. Even though some of the constituents have been investigated for their anticancer effects, none of them have been shown to be effective for cancer treatment. In a trial sponsored by Mannatech, Ambrotose was shown to enhance brain wave activities when compared to placebo. However, the clinical implication remains to be determined (2).

Warnings

Mannatech and its founder have been charged by the Texas Attorney General for deceptive trade practices that exaggerated the products' health benefits. (3)

Adverse Reactions

There are no known side effects from using Ambrotose.

Dosage (Inside MSKCC Only)
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References
  1. Mannatech Science. http://www.mannatechscience.org/home/products/ambrotose. Accessed October 11, 2012.
  2. Wang C, Szabo JS, Dykman RA. Effects of a carbohydrate supplement upon resting brain activity. Integr Physiol Behav Sci, 2004;39(2):126-38.
  3. News release. Texas Attorney General Abbott Reaches Agreement To Halt Deceptive Trade Practices. February 26, 2009. Accessed October 11, 2012.

Consumer Information

How It Works

Bottom Line: Glyconutrients have not been shown to treat cancer in humans.

Glyconutrients are a group of sugars extracted from plants and thought to be essential for the body by helping cell-to-cell communication. These products have been marketed to cancer patients under the brand name Ambrotose through networking marketing approach. While some of the constituents have been studied for their anticancer effects, there is no evidence that glyconutrient products are effective as cancer treatment in humans.

Purported Uses
  • Antitumor properties
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • Health maintenance
    There are no data to back this claim.
  • Immunostimulant
    There is no scientific evidence to support this use.
  • Increase brain activity
    One small company-sponsored trial showed that glyconutrients can increase brain wave activities. But the clinical effect is unclear.
Patient Warnings

Glyconutrients and related products are not cancer treatments.

Side Effects

There are no known side effects with Ambrotose.

Special Point

Mannatech and its founder have been charged by the Texas Attorney General for deceptive trade practices that exaggerated the products' health benefits.

E-mail your questions and comments to aboutherbs@mskcc.org.