For Patients & Caregivers
How It Works
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 network marketing approaches. While some of the constituents have been studied for their anticancer effects, there is no evidence that glyconutrient products are effective as a cancer treatment in humans.
- 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.
For Healthcare Professionals
Glyconutrients refer to 8 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 the 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 to cancer patients through network marketing approaches, but their benefit is unclear.
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).