Beta glucans are sugars found in bacteria, yeasts, algae, oats and barley. Despite their use as a treatment for high cholesterol, cancer and the progression of HIV or AIDS, beta glucans pose a risk for side effects in some patients.
Beta glucans are available in oral, topical and injectable forms. The side effects of beta glucan injections are more common and widely studied than those caused by topical or oral forms.
Any type of beta glucan should not be used for more than eight weeks at a time, according to RxList.
Side effects of injectable beta glucans include pain at the injection site, chills, fever, headaches, back and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, changes in blood pressure and frequent urination.
Some patients develop a shortage of white blood cells while being treated with beta glucans, increasing the risk of bacterial, fungal and viral infections.
Because immunosuppressant medications like Imuran or Simulect also increase the likelihood of infection, they should not be used with beta glucans.
If you are pregnant or nursing, avoid taking beta glucans due to potential side effects to your baby.