Glyconutrients, an honest review - There are a variety of opinions regarding the benefits and risks of these supplements. My goal is to provide a balanced and fair opinion based on my background as a nutrition scientist and medical doctor
July 14 2014
 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Update: A search on Medline on March 24 2014 revealed no new studies published since 2009 when using the search word "glyconutrients"

I suspect that there is something not right about the promotion of a product - such as glyconutrients - when the meaning of the word is ambiguous. There is little mentioned in the legitimate medical literature regarding the term glyconutrients, yet the internet abounds with websites promoting its virtues.
   This article discusses the merits or lack thereof of "glyconutrient" products sold by Mannatech -- and other companies that offer such products for sale -- that supposedly have 'eight essential sugars.' There are many types of sugar compounds -- for instance glucosamine, glycoproteins, glycolipids, fructooligosaccharides, arabinogalactans -  that have been shown to have a role to play in health and I have articles on some of these sugar-related substances that review the research. I would rather use these terms rather than the mishmosh term 'glyconutrients.' I am a strong believer in the benefits of various dietary supplements including sugar compounds, I just want to call them by their proper, scientifically accepted names.
   To me, the word glyconutrient has no scientific meaning and only serves to confuse matters. What if I made up a term called "aminonutrient" to refer to amino acids and then claimed that "Eight aminonutrients are lacking in the diet and should be obtained as a supplement"? How would this help explain anything or advance scientific knowledge? What if I created the term "liponutrient" to refer to fatty acids and then made a claim that "Eight liponutrients are lacking in the diet"? How would the word "liponutrient" add to our understanding of fats and lipids? Everyone on this planet has a different diet. Some eat a lot of protein, others eat a lot of carbohydrates, and there are diets that have every variation in between. How can anyone make the general statement that "Eight essential sugars are missing in the diet." Who came up with the number eight, anyway? Why not four, or nine, or forty-one?

What is a glyconutrient, anyway? There is no accepted definition
What is the exact definition of a glyconutrient, anyway? Glyco means sugar, and nutrient means a substance that is useful to the body. Is glucose a glyconutrient? Glucose is certainly a sugar and it is a nutrient needed by the body to function. There certainly is no deficiency of glucose in the American diet, especially those who are diabetic. What about sucrose, also known as table sugar? What about lactose, the sugar found in milk? Who decides which sugars and related compounds to include within the broad definition of the term?
   Is a glyconutrient a sugar molecule attached to another molecule, or a group of molecules? Sugar chains (also called glycans) vary in length from one sugar, to extremely long chains found in glycosaminoglycans. Is a glyconutrient any sugar attached to any other molecule or is a glyconutrient a specific substance or a group of specific substances? Does the chemical structure of a "glyconutrient" sold by one company the same as another company or completely different? Is there a scientifically accepted definition of what a glyconutrient is just like there is for the words vitamins and glycoproteins? If there is such a standard and accepted definition for the word, I have not seen it yet. To me, the word glyconutrient has no special medical or nutritional meaning. The term glyconutrient is confusing and unnecessary. My degree in college was nutrition. I have a bachelor's degree in nutrition science and afterwards went to medical school. As an expert in nutrition science, I do not find the term helpful. This does not mean I am against the use of natural supplements. To the contrary. I believe they are extremely helpful and underused by the medical profession. I, myself, take supplements almost every day and I recommend them. My purpose, here, is to be scientifically honest.
   See an excellent scientific review of this topic at http://glycob.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/18/9/652.

The problem, also, is the way these products are being marketed
I am not claiming that taking a Mannatech glyconutrient supplement will hurt you or help you. Perhaps taking such a supplement does provide health benefits in certain conditions while not be effective for others, or perhaps be harmful in some people or distract them from the use of other supplements or medications that could be more helpful. I just have a major problem with the way these glyconutrient products are being marketed; the misinformation that there are 'eight essential sugars;' and the claims being made that these products cure a variety of diseases including cancer. In fact, the Texas Attorney General filed a lawsuit in July 2007 against Mannatech, see below. Most herbs and supplements have not been studied well but yet available to the consumer. Selling supplements is fine as long as no claims are being made that they prevent or cure diseases. The problem arises when claims are made that are not accurate or serve to deceive the consumer.
   Assuming that taking a glyconutrient supplement has certain health benefits. Is it also possible that other readily available and inexpensive supplements -- for instance psyllium fiber, glucomannan, or fish oil supplements -- be as, or more, beneficial at a fraction of the cost of a Mannatech glyconutrient product? The scientific evidence thus far points to the likelihood that the average American diet is low in fiber and long-chained fatty acids found in fish, rather than deficient in "eight glyconutrients." Also, the Mannatech glyconutrient product appears to have a high concentration of arabinogalactans, aloe vera and certain gums. Would it be cheaper to just buy these supplements separately?

Texas Attorney General files a lawsuit against Mannatech and their Glyconutrient product claims
2007 - Greg Abbott, the Texas Attorney General has charged Mannatech, Inc., its owner, Samuel L. Caster, and several related entities with promoting an illegal marketing scheme that encourages consumers to believe that its products are effective against many serious diseases. The court will examine Mannatech’s dubious claims about the health benefits of its products. The following are some of the charges mentioned in the complaint:
"Mannatech claims scientific validation from the field of glycoscience, which is the legitimate study of the structure and function of sugars."
"Mannatech claims that its proprietary products' main ingredients, glyconutrients, enhance the body's cell-to-cell communication and improve overall health."
"Mannatech encourages the use of testimonials and various sales aids to suggest that the products dramatically cure or treat serious illnesses."
"In fact, the company's health claims are not supported by legitimate scientific studies."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott accuses Mannatech of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which provides civil penalties of $20,000 for each violation and the Texas Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which can have penalties up to $25,000 per each day per violation. He claims, "Texans will not tolerate illegal marketing schemes that prey upon the sick and unsuspecting," Attorney General Abbott said. "Aided by an army of multi-level sellers and their fictitious claims about its products, Mannatech has aggressively marketed supplements to countless unwitting purchasers. With today's enforcement action, the Office of the Attorney General seeks to shut down an elaborate scheme to defraud innocent consumers across the nation." Documents filed in Travis County district court reveal Mannatech's scheme to exploit families, including those challenged by cancer, Down's syndrome, cystic fibrosis and other serious illnesses. For more info, see http://www.oag.state.tx.us/oagnews/release.php?id=2086

Mannatech and Glyconutrients
Glyconutrients is a term coined by Mannatech, a multilevel company. Mannatech, based in Coppell, Texas, sells its products through a global network-marketing system throughout the United States and the international markets of Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Denmark and Germany.
     According to their website, Mannatech claims, "Medical research has discovered that eight glyconutrient sugars are needed at the cellular level for optimum immune function. Considering that six of these glyconutrients are often lacking in modern diets, Mannatech sought new and better sources of the nutrients. The effort culminated in the Ambrotose (R) complex. Today, 20 patents -- including one from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office -- have been issued to Mannatech for technology related to the Ambrotose formulation. Mannatech has more than two dozen glyconutritional products for adults and children that address health and nutrition, sports performance, weight management and skin care."  Note by Dr. Sahelian: I have not seen research that indicates "six glyconutrients are lacking in the diet."
   I am not against the concept of multilevel marketing if the product is legitimate and is helping people, and many people have made a good income this way. However, more often than not, the people at the bottom of the chain end up losing more money than they make, or spend a lot of their time for little profit, or end up alienating some friends and family members due to their persistence. I personally know several people who spent enormous amounts of time and energy as distributors for little gain.

A "glyconutrient sham".
Glycobiology. 2008; Schnaar RL, Freeze HH. Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
The discipline of glycobiology contributes to our understanding of human health and disease through research, most of which is published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Recently, legitimate discoveries in glycobiology have been used as marketing tools to help sell plant extracts termed "glyconutrients." The glyconutrient industry has a worldwide sales force of over half a million people and sells nearly half a billion dollars (USD) of products annually. Here we address the relationship between glyconutrients and glycobiology, and how glyconutrient claims may impact the public and our discipline.

Human studies regarding a Mannatech glyconutrient products
There are some early studies being conducted with these products that I have listed below. Before claims are made that Mannatech glyconutrients treat or cure ADHD, cancer, immune dysfunction, lupus, etc, it would be helpful to see at least a few of long term double blinded placebo controlled human studies conducted by independent researchers who are not on the payroll of glyconutrient manufacturers. I am not referring to studies with various monosaccharides, polysaccharides, arabinogalactans, glycoconjugates and other molecules containing sugar chains such as in glycoproteins, glycolipids, and proteoglycans. I am referring to the Mannatech glyconutrients, "the eight essential sugars" that are promoted as cure alls.

Cognition and memory
Glyconutrients and perception, cognition, and memory.
Percept Mot Skills. 2009; Stancil AN, Hicks LH. Howard University, 2400 Sixth Street N.W., Washington, DC, USA.
Neuropsychological tests were administered to 62 college students to assess the influence of glyconutrients on perception, cognition and memory in two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, counterbalanced studies. Participants were given both a glyconutritional supplement and a control substance prior to testing. In Exp. 1. a Same-Different visual discrimination task, Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices, and the Stroop test were administered. In Exp. 2, simple and complex working-memory capacity were measured. Participants receiving the supplement performed significantly more accurately on the visual discrimination task and the first session of the simple working-memory test.
    Comments: There are dozens of inexpensive and easily available over the counter herbs and nutrients that influence memory and mental abilities. Examples include acetyl l carnitine, ginkgo biloba, DMAE, choline, cdp-choline, vinpocetine, fish oils, certain B vitamins, etc. One could easily use these or others and most will be less expensive. For a comprehensive list, see memory.

Colitis study in rodents
Plant-Derived Polysaccharide Supplements Inhibit Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis in the Rat.
Dig Dis Sci. 2009. Koetzner L, Grover G, Boulet J, Jacoby HI. Eurofins Product Safety Laboratories, Dayton, NJ, USA.
Several plant-derived polysaccharides have been shown to have anti-inflammatory activity in animal models. Ambrotose complex and Advanced Ambrotose are dietary supplements that include aloe vera gel, arabinogalactan, fucoidan, and rice starch, all of which have shown such activity. This study was designed to evaluate these formulations against dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis in rats and to confirm their short-term safety after 14 days of daily dosing. Rats were dosed daily orally with vehicle, Ambrotose or Advanced Ambrotose. On day six groups of rats received tap water or 5% Dextran Sulfate sodium. Ambrotose and Advanced Ambrotose significantly lowered the disease scores and partially prevented the shortening of colon length. An increase in monocyte count was induced by dextran sulfate sodium and inhibited by Ambrotose and Advanced Ambrotose. There were no observable adverse effects after 14-day daily doses. The mechanism of action of the formulations against DSS-induced colitis may be related to its effect on monocyte count.

Myasthenia gravis study is retracted by the publisher of the journal
Glyconutrient Supplementation in Patients with Myasthenia Gravis.
J Altern Complement Med. 2008. Randell DJ, Byars A, Williams F, Miller L. University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX.
This pilot study examined the benefits of GN supplementation on various objective and subjective physiologic measures related to myasthenia gravis. Seven (7) male and 12 female volunteer patients (n = 19) with symptomatic MG, ages 16-84 were randomly assigned to either a GN intervention group (IG) or control-crossover group (CCG) that began the GN dietary intervention at 6 weeks. Patients were assessed at various time intervals over 52 weeks and included physiologic measures using the Quantitative Myasthenia Gravis Score (QMG) along with several self-report measures related to current health status. At baseline, no significant differences existed between the CCG and IG on any of the test parameters. At 6 weeks, the IG demonstrated significantly improved QMG scores while the CCG remained essentially the same. The CCG, which had begun the dietary intervention protocol 6 weeks into the study, also exhibited significant improvement in QMG scores similar to that of the IG. At 52 weeks, the entire sample exhibited significant improvement in QMG scores from baseline. Significant percentage improvement was also reported from subjective measures of activities of daily living (78%), energy (81%), endurance (79%), productivity (92%), and quality of life (88%). Dietary support with GN may potentially provide physiologic benefits to patients with MG. Continued efficacy studies employing randomized placebo-controlled trials examining specific GN are warranted to evaluate possible autoimmune benefit.
    Comments: This article was retracted after being published online, see below. I would like to review a larger sample of myasthenia gravis patients treated in a double blinded placebo controlled manner and done by a group of independent scientists who do not have any association with makers of glyconutrient products. The "glyconutrient" supplements used in this study apparently consisted of a propriety blend, including gum ghatti (from Anogeissus latifolia) and manapol (from Aloe vera). It seems the volunteers also took a combination of multivitamins and /multiminerals, phytonutrient supplements, and phytosterols. Therefore we don't know what results who have been achieved without the latter supplements added to the "glyconutrients."
    Note: This article has been retracted because the amounts of ingredients in a product were not included as the product was a proprietary formula. This situation presents an obstacle to replication of the study results. Kim A. Jobst, Editor in Chief of the Journal of Complementary Medicine.

Glyconutrient in Food
How is a glyconutrient defined? Is a glyconutrient any sugar molecule attached to something else like an amino group or another molecule? In that case, sugars and sugars attached to other molecules are plentiful in the diet in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, etc.

Are these Glyconutrients?
Are the following substances considered glyconutrients? Glactosamine, glucose, fructose, lactose, ribose, glucosamine, N-acetylglucosamine, rhamnose, arabinose, mucins, gum polysacharides, mannose, glycosaminoglycans, and galactose? Who determines what types of sugar chains, or related molecules are called a glyconutrient? Who determines which of these sugar- and sugar-related substances are 'essential?'
   In my opinion, until proven to me otherwise, the term ' glyconutrient appears to be a marketing gimmick and does not really help explain anything but only adds to confusion. I rather refer to the individual molecule when reading the research about a particular substance. I rather learn what the research says about glucosamine, arabinogalactans, rhamnose, etc.,  rather than a confusing term such as glyconutrient.

Mannatech Ambrotose
A multilevel company, Mannatech introduced a product called Ambrotose many years ago. If you do an internet search you will find Ambrotose being promoted for a number of conditions. For instance, I came across this statement on a website, "It was recently brought to my attention that a product called Ambrotose, produced by Mannatech Inc, has been proven by independent studies to be an effective treatment of Lupus, multiple sclerosis and Chronic Fatigue; among other auto-immune diseases, such as less common Myasthenia Gravis. Ambrotose is a complex of naturally occurring mono-sacharides and poly-sacharides that have been put together in a capsule form or in a powder. It is completely non-toxic and has no side effects."
     I did a Medline search for Ambrotose and could not find any studies published on this product, so it is difficult for me to accept the claims made about Ambrotose. How do we know ingesting a glyconutrient supplement for prolonged periods causes no harm or side effects?

Diabetes
I have not seen any studies that support the use of Mannatech glyconutrients for diabetes.

Cancer
I have not seen any studies that support the use of Mannatech glyconutrients for cancer.

Dr. Sahelian's opinion
One in vitro study shows glyconutrients stimulate the immune system. This really does not give us much information on how glyconutrients, and in what dosage, would have an influence on the immune system in humans when ingested as a supplement. Furthermore, there are countless varieties of glyconutrient molecules and glycunutrient molecule combinations within an herbal product. The immune system is extremely complicated with countless cells and substances, tissues and organs, all communicating in unimaginably complicated interactions. As an aside, there are countless herbs and supplements that have an influence on the immune system.
     For the time being, I am not in a position to recommend the use of a Mannatech glyconutrient supplement to enhance the immune system or for other purposes. There are many more nutrients and herbs that have been studied more thoroughly. For a list, see Immune system. Even the ones that have been studied more thoroughly are not understood that well.
     There are hundreds of different glyconutrients and glyconutrient combinations in a variety of different dosages (assuming scientists agree on the definition of a glyconutrient or even feel the need to use such a term). We have no idea on how these interact with each person's immune system. Some people may benefit by taking a glyconutrient supplement while another person may find it harmful or get a side effect. To complicate matters further, there could be a short term benefit but, prolonged use could lead to overstimulation of the immune system and could potentially reverse any initial benefit. The whole issue of glyconutrient supplementation is very complicated and if you hear of promotional material that makes it appear simple, be skeptical. I suggest you be even more skeptical if you hear of cure all promises and endless testimonials that tout the benefits of glyconutrients. Most of the time testimonials are made up by the marketers selling the products.
   In brief, the use of the term glyconutrients is unnecessary and does not help the advancement of nutritional research.

Side Effect
Since I don't exactly know what glyconutrient sellers mean by this term, and not having seen glyconutrient research in humans, I don't know if taking a glyconutrient supplement will lead to side effects. As a rule (not always), if a supplement or a medicine has a positive effect, most likely it will have some sort of side effect, too, since it is changing the structure or function of the body, biochemistry, or physiologic function.

MLM - multi level marketing - do most people really make money?
John Taylor, MBA, PhD, runs the Consumer Awareness Institute http://www.mlm-thetruth.com. He claims that over 99% of new distributors for various MLM companies lose money.

Glyconutrient review articles
This email was sent to us in August 2008.
Q. Dr. Sahelian, here is new information that you may wish to post on your site. Prominent glycobiologists expose the glyconutrient scam in great detail in the academic journal Glycobiology. http://glycob.oxfordjournals.org/current.dtl

Glyconutrient Research
Effects of a glyconutrient on macrophage functions.
Int J Immunopharmacol. 2000. Lefkowitz DL, Stuart R, Gnade BT, Roberts E, Lefkowitz SS. Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
Previous studies have shown that mannosylated bovine serum albumin (mBSA) enhances the respiratory burst (RB), phagocytosis, and killing of Candida albicans and Escherichia coli by resident murine peritoneal macrophages (Mphi). Upregulation of the above Mphi functions was associated with the binding of mBSA to the macrophage mannose receptor. The present study was done to determine if certain glyconutrients could stimulate Mphi functions in a similar manner. Resident peritoneal murine Mphi collected from C57BL/6 mice were exposed to the glyconutrients for 10 and 60 min. The RB was measured using chemiluminescence. Both phagocytosis and killing were measured after incubation with each of the following microorganisms: Candida albicans, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. The percent phagocytosis and killing were determined using fluorescence microscopy. Results indicated that certain glyconutrients, caused a dose and time dependent effect on Mphi-induced killing of all three microorganisms.

We received this email from someone who read the study listed below and had a comment about it: "I was reading on your website about the use of glyconutrients and saw research update where you listed Dr. See's research at UC Irvine. I just want to inform you that Mannatech is using a study supposedly performed at UC Irvine and partially funded by NIH, which is untrue. Just thought you should update your report on " glyconutrients " because it appears on your website that this is a valid study (albeit in a test tube), but in reality it's just more Mannatech propoganda. Mannatech apparently paid Dr. See more than $100,000 to speak at sale rallies and conduct research, and his wife has been a Mannatech distributor since 1997. Thanks for the work you do! See the link below for the thorough report on this fraud: http://www.caic.org.au/commercial/Mannatech/manna-uses%20study.htm
Study was debunked, Mannatech suing Dr. See:
http://www.caic.org.au/commercial/Mannatech/manna-misled.htm"

The in vitro immunomodulatory effects of glyconutrients on peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Integr Physiol Behav Sci. 1998.
See DM, Cimoch P, Chou S, Chang J, Tilles J.
University of California, Irvine, Department of Medicine, Orange

A good article on Glyconutrients and Mannatech
This is a quote from a September 2006 newspaper article on glyconutrients written by Denny Robbins for the Star-Telegram: "These and other issues have caused outrage among some advocacy groups and brought scrutiny from at least two state attorneys general, a class-action lawsuit and questions from some of the world's pre-eminent scientists. "My blood boils when I think about all the desperate people who have taken this stuff on," said Hudson Freeze, a professor of glycobiology at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, Calif.""
   For details, see http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/15486290.htm?source=rss&channel=dfw_news

Questions and emails - new ones are added to the bottom of the list
Q. I read your article and now I am more confused than ever. I have listened to a CD with Dr Dan Fouts, Dr Alex Omelchuk and Dr Michael Schlachter (all MD's) who claim that there has been much written on glyconutrients. Not only has research been done but they are using it in their practices. New Sun bottles a product called Salmana, that product is suppose to be good for just about everything. Are these Doctors telling the truth or just digging deeper into there research?
   A. For the time being, I stand by my comments above. If there are human studies with Mannatech glyconutrients that these products treat or cure a particular disease, I am not aware of them.

Q. I just found out about Ambrotose. I bought some for a friend with Hep B. I went to the sales rep's site www.glyco-facts.com. It sounds very convincing, especially with the AMA backing.  Then, I find your article on glyconutrients ...I am confused!!! Would you visit the www.glco-facts.com and read what is there...am I being taken? I kinda feel like I am.
   A. We generally don't comment on information posted on other web sites only to say that we stand by the glyconutrient info on our site. It is for the consumer to judge the integrity of the info they read on the internet or in print. We have had this glyconutrient web page on for several years requesting anyone who has a published study on Mannatech glyconutrient research to email it to us, and all we get is sales people sending us email on testimonials that most likely they have made up claiming that glyconutrients are a cure all. We're still waiting for even one good human study on Mannatech glyconutrients in terms of treating a disease. At this time there is no evidence that Mannatech glyconutrient supplements help with cancer, lupus, heart disease, myasthenia gravis, hepatitis, fibromyalgia, cystic fibrosis, or anything else.

Q. I read your comment about glyconutrients, and would like to tell you that you can get continuing medical education approved by the AMA by going to Proevity dot com/homepage.html. If you would like to buy syllabi on different disease states please go to FisherInstitute dot org. Dr. Omelchuck & others you named on your explanation of you didn't find studies on glyconutrients with people, is a real person I've heard several times, along with Dr. Dan Fouts etc. On Satudays at noon EST there is a free "chat" that only requires anyone to put in any name to join it. The author of chapter 56, Harper's Biochemistry Medical Textbook year 1996, examined Mannatech's science & joined the "Editorial Board." He also has spoken to us who have had their life turn around by taking core nutrients that aren't in our food chain, or very scarcely & extemely hard to find. You can download a free powerpoint presentation of Dr. Robert Murray's by going to DoctorsHealthCall dot com & clicking on "past speakers." It's further down the page. I do guess you've seen GlycoScience dot org ? I wish you the best, a Mannatecher who has been relieved of deep pains, a back that had me in the ER, lost >70 lbs {phytogenins}, and other wonderful things.
   A. I'm still waiting for human glyconutrients study before making any definitive comments.

Q. If you were referring people to a website that sold glyconutrients, don't you think you would say good things about a glyconutrient product?
   A. I could easily refer people to a website that sold a glyconutrient product and say good things about Mannatech glyconutrients on this page and get a referral commission. But since I don't have any proof that they treat or cure a disease or are any better than other sugar related supplements that are cheaper, no amount of money would influence my opinion.

Q. I am a retired medical doctor and read your web page on glyconutrient with great interest and have several comments that you may find helpful. If you look at the compositions of these glyconutrients (gum tragacanth, gum ghatti, arabinogalactan, aloe vera gel polysaccharides) you will note they are gums and fibers. These plant polysaccharides are soluble fiber and are not digestible. Therefore, their sugars could never be released and absorbed by the body. These fiber are destined to be fermented by the colonic bacteria in the gut where they are used as nutrients to make more bacteria. No study has ever shown that the human body absorbs sugars from a diet of fiber. Mannatech makes the sugars appear to be necessary and also essential by telling people they are no longer in the modern diet. The truth is that these glycontutrient sugars can be obtained in the modern diet from the glycoforms that cover every cells, but these sugars are most likely made by the body from other sugars. They say these glycontutrient sugars are needed for optimal health. There has never been a study that shows taking more of these sugars has any health maintaining purpose. Mannatech brandishes every piece of scientific literature on glycoscience and glycomics as validating their product when in fact these paper have absolutely nothing to do with their glycontutrient product. This is a flagrant, although clever and deceptive, example of falsely misleading the consumer. It certainly puts a black mark on the otherwise legitimate dietary supplement industry and needs to be addressed.

A counter argument to the above sent by a representative of Mannatech in Feb 2014: "Dr. John Kalns and colleagues (Hyperion Biotechnology, Inc., San Antonio, TX) conducted an in vitro study demonstrating that human fecal bacteria can partially break down Advanced Ambrotose ® powder and two of its constituents (aloe vera gel polysaccharides and arabinogalactan). Bacteria identified that could best compete for these polysaccharides were Enterococcus species (a species that is a popular probiotic in some countries). Those interested will find these and other studies at MannatechScience dot org."

Q. Hello Dr. Sahelian. Below is part of an email that I recently received from a friend. My guess is that my friend is going to start selling this Ambrotose. It sure looks like a marketing scam (and a bunch of lies) to me. I did email your glyconutrient website link to her. This is what she had emailed me, "Hey I really want to talk to you about this new technology that I am promoting. Father Derrick is on this new wellness program I introduced him to, and he is very pleased. It is tops in the WORLD. Everyone on the planet will want it. It is a new discovery called Ambrotose. It is the discovery by a doctor who found that there are 8 essential sugars ( glyconutrients ) that help the body heal itself naturally plus more. It is outstanding discovery. He has won three Nobel prizes, the glyconutrient product is patented in 20 countries, his wife is feeding it to the malnourish children in third world countries. she has reached 10,000 so far. they have a new life filled with hope and promise now. Use the stock market as a measure stick if you so wish...stocks are going higher and higher and higher. there is no limit. this is going to be the end of outrageous doctors cost, hospitalization, medication. People are going to take control back of their health - if they so choose it. Glyconutrients are another one of God's miracles in nature. It is a miracle the way the body does this. It is about cell to cell communication, and how they heal themselves with this Ambrotose. Pay attention....it is here... Look forward to hearing from you soon...

Q. I am a second year medical student in Milwaukee : Wisconsin. Just got done reading your page on ' glyconutrients. ' It was very well done. Thank you for putting all of it together. One of your commenters said that "MIT called glyconutrients one of the top ten technologies that will change the world." That's not true. (As I'm sure you guessed.) the actual article may be found at: http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/13060/page10/
   It talks of glycomics, not glyconutrients. Obviously, it's a very different field. You asked the commenter to provide a reference to the article. None was provided. If you tacked this on so those reading could have a clear idea of what's actually being said, it might be helpful. Just my opinion. I had a cousin email me this morning and ask what I thought about glyconutrients. I'd never heard of them, so I did some legwork and was happy to come across your site. Thanks again.

Q. I wanted to thank you for being a skeptic about Mannatech glyconutrients, not because you've convinced me that they are NOT legit.. but because you've encouraged me to not just buy into it. I heard about glyconutrients from a friend who gave me a dvd to watch... and yes their pitch made sense in the way it was presented... and I cried... it sounded to good to be true and I so wanted it to be true. I have Autoimmune Hepatitis and as with anything chronic just the fact that I will have to live with medications and the looming possiblities of liver transplants for the rest of my life has been very overwhelming... I want all this stuff about glyconutrients to be true! But thankfully their IS a little voice in my head that always speaks up when anything that sounds like a scam comes to my atention. I've been trying to find out more about glyconutrients and did find one book The Power of Sugars, suposedly by a bunch of doctors, but in looking more closely most of the doctors are chiropractors! Also I did see that though glycoscience.org seemed like alot of proof... it just seemed like it was connected to mannatech... I just didn't like the feel, but its so hard to resist, this glyconutrient suplement is promiseing me my life back. But as you stated, their is NO information on what type of glyconutrient side effects there may be, and I'm very uncomfortable taking somthing without that information. So really, I'm simply thanking you for helping to strengthen my resolve to be a skeptic and do my research thouroghly, no matter how much I want this to be true. I mean, even if it is true, what a glyconutrient has side effects I don't know about? Side effects that, after time has gone by and its to late to go back on my choice, side effects that can be more devestateing then my current condition, and I am stable now so... why risk it? But still, in the end, I hope somwhere along the line it prooves true... I want my life back.. I'm only twenty-one and because of medication side effects I'm developing osteoperosis, and I'm so very tired most of the time. My Spleen is enlarged and my platelet count is 55,000... which is rather HIGH for me actualy as it used to sit around 20,000... I can't do things my friends can for fear of injury, spleen rupture, internal bleeding.... and the chances of having children for me are not very nice... and I've always wanted to have children somday... I should be starting life, and I feel old... so yes... I want it to be true... I have alot of reasons to want the glyconutrient promise to be true... and how dare they dangle such a carrot in front of me if it isn't! But I can't take it if its just a false hope, I don't need any false hope, it might destroy the hope I have already. I can't even imagine what it would be like for people worse off then me.... So thanks, for being a skeptic.

Q. I was pleased to come across your website and found it very informative. I found your site while conducting research on " glyconutrients." I am a physician assistant who graduated from Duke University 's Medical School . It was a refreshing to find another who practices medicine with a scientific mindset and understands the importance of evidence based research, especially when it comes to the topic of CAM. I recently started my first job practicing cardiology and was quickly introduced to " glyconutrients ". I overheard an ECHO tech telling a patient. about this glyconutrient product and then actually trying to sell the product in the physical premise of the cardiology practice. I was very concerned about this on multiple levels. First, I think it is probably illegal for a non-clinician to be giving a patient medical advice and most certainly illegal for this individual to be selling the glyconutrient product for her own personal gain. At the least, it is highly unethical in my mind. I was also disturbed because I have never heard of this product. I approached the technician about " glyconutrients " and was told it is the next big thing in medicine. I thought it suspicious that I never heard of glyconutrients, especially having recently graduated from a major research focused medical school and prior years spent conducting clinical research at a hospital in Boston. Intrigued I conducted my own research on PUBMED and other reputable sites, and like you, did not find any convincing research supporting the claim by Mannatech and its employees. I wanted to thank you for your investigation into glyconutrients. I am including it in a packet of true information that I am preparing to present for my fellow employees, including the senior physician of the practice who happens to be one of the misinformed who have been led to believe that glyconutrients are the magical natural cure for all ailments.

Q.  I am a medical doctor who just stumbled upon your webpage regarding glyconutrients, having failed to find any information on Medline that was of any use. I have a young patient with end-stage, metastatic neuroblastoma and her mother is (understandably) desperate to try anything that offers even a whisper of promise to save her child’s life. She mentioned glyconutrients as an option, so I decided to look into it. I found the same glyconutrient information you did, namely not much at all. A couple of in vitro studies and a lot of sales hype. Thank you for posting a webpage with an honest perspective on the glyconutrient craze. Seeing as how so many people do their “research” on the internet, it is important to have objective assessments out there as well.

Q. After being diagnosed with a fatty liver from long-term antibiotic use, a friend of my mine gave me a CD with testimonials etc., on glyconutrients. My gut instinct told me to be skeptical and I searched on the internet for glyconutrient studies, of many of which are confusing and MASKED by Mannotech !!! Thank you so much for sifting through this "junk" for us patients!!! From Michigan. P.S. Since I'm on supplements for my liver, I am now subscribing to your newsletter to help me use these supplements wisely!

Q. I recently read your comment online regarding glyconutrient. Since it isn't dated I was wondering if you ever received a response to your questions? Do you still have the same opinion now toward glyconutrients? What comments do you have for the people it has helped? mere coincidence? I'm still on the fence about it. I value your opinion. My own research on gylconutrients gets clouded by information Mannatech is linked to. I don't necessarily like the whole MLM way of promoting a product and am skeptical. However, I feel the pharmaceutical industry can be equally "shady" and irrisponsible with what they produce, promote & advertise.
   A. No one has responded to provide a human study with Mannatech glyconutrients and its cure of a disease. I am skeptical of case histories with glyconutrients since this a multi level marketing scheme and there are tons of distributors who are likely to make up fake testimonials as opposed to a supplement that is not distributed in a multi level marketing way. We update this page on glyconutrients on a regular basis.

Q. Dear Dr. Sahelian: I am a medical doctor and thought you may be interested in some updated information on Mannatech and glyconutrient. It is an article, "Pill Cure Claims Draw Investigation By State: Mannatech Accused of Failing to Prove Sugar Pills Can Remedy Various Diseases" RedNova Sun, 29 Oct 2006 By Leigh Hopper, Houston Chronicle Oct. 29 -- "Mannatech, a Dallas-area company that sells sugar pills touted to cure cancer, Down syndrome and a panoply of other conditions, is under investigation by the Texas Attorney General's Office for possible deceptive trade practices."

Q. I am not connected in anyway with Mannatech, nor do I yet use their glyconutrient products, however, in my research on the internet, specifically on MIT's site, I find all of the monosaccharides that Mannatech claims active use in their glyconutrient products, are being studied at great length by MIT. Is you web page on Glyconutrients inconsistent with the studies being done by MIT in these areas of sugars interactions with proteins on the cellular levels.
   A. Our web page does not say that sugars attached to other molecules are harmful or beneficial. It just says that the term glyconutrients is not a necessary term, it was made up by a MLM company and I look forward to research on various sugars and sugar-related substances and their potential benefit or harm.

Q. I couldn't tell how old your page on glyconutrients was and I am wondering if you have found any data yet to support them? I am a Mannatech associate and I feel like the products have helped me personally (fibromyalgia, immune system) and I know many others who say they have helped. But I still do not feel comfortable recommending the products to people when I see so much doubt on the internet. It's hard to sort through it all. Has anyone from your staff contacted Mannatech directly and talked to any of the scientists. One thing that makes it hard to find the truth is that there just seem to be two groups -- the medicine people, who will refuse to acknowledge that any supplement can have a beneficial effect, and the alternative people, who will believe anything they hear. I tend to lean more towards supplements, but I want to make sure the things I'm reading are true. There have also been a lot of scientific magazines that they offer at Mannatech meetings that do talk about the glyconutrient products and how they work. Are you saying that none of these magazines are scientific enough, and that the website is a hoax? If so, is there a way to prove that? I don't want to refer people to glyconutrients if it is. But I know people personally with diseases such as MS who have gotten a lot better after taking the glyconutrient products. Do you think this is a placebo effect? I'm just looking for some guidance in how to tell the fact from the wishful thinking. I know most Mannatech associates are good people, trying to do what's right and truly believe it's helping people, but maybe they're being misled.
   A. We update this page on a regular basis. As far as we know, there have not been any human studies with a ' glyconutrient ' product made by Mannatech. Mannatech and many of its distributors are quite aware of this web page discussing glyconutrients, and for several years I have been asking for anyone to send me a research paper done in humans with ' glyconutrients' yet nothing in our email box yet and nothing on Medline, the scientific research index.

Q. To answer your request for studies (below), I have copied the list at the end of this email from the website http://www.glycoscience.org/. Note that articles at this website are coded...blue for "Medical Audiences", purple for "All Audiences". What would, perhaps, be more helpful is that there are bibliographies at the end of all articles, especially the Consolidated Reviews at www.glycoscience.org. The original abstracts can then be researched on MEDLINE or PubMed. It should be noted that the National Institutes of Health have awarded a five-year $34 Million grant to the Scripps Institute for further research in the area of glycobiology...or glycomics as it is called by MIT. Some of the grant research is being conducted at: University of Georgia, University of Oklahoma, University of Southern California-San Diego. Glycobiology has now been added as a degree program at several universities, such as Oxford. You might want to consult the Physicians' Desk Reference for Nonprescription Drugs and Dietary Supplements. Glyconutrients are listed for compromised immune systems. Finally, please note that if someone is making health claims for natural, non-pharmaceutical products, this is truly outside the compliance guidelines under which we operate. We are careful, as I'm sure you are, to use the following--or a similar--disclaimer. Disclaimer: Mannatech, Inc. products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, but scientific studies have been documented linking the ingestion of certain food nutrients, and the prevention of chronic disease.
   A. Perhaps you can help us by sifting through all of the research you mention and finding at least one that has to do with ' Mannatech glyconutrients ' being given to human subjects for a period of time and the influence of such ' glyconutrients ' on the immune system and disease prevention and progression. You can copy and paste such research in the email you send us.

Q. My son suffers from Crohn's Disease and I have already undergone surgery foe spinal stenosis. We both succumbed to the Mannatech fairy tale and it was costly ( 6 months of glyconutrients ) Now there is a Dr. Webber in Oregon who is pedaling Aloe Vera as a way to regenerate the nerves in my spinal column. Please tell me to save my money, do exercise and undergo acupuncture treatment.
   A. We are not aware of any studies with aloe vera in regards to Crohn's disease or spinal stenosis.

Q. I read some comments you made on " glyconutrients ". I was wondering if you had researched the eight conditionally essential monosaccharides any further. There are several companies selling " glyconutrient " formulas, not just a multi-level company. The NOW Foods company has recently introduced a glyconutrient complex. I would like to send you a chapter from the 2006 edition of Harpers Biochemistry if you are interested. Harpers Biochemistry Reprints by Robert K. Murray, MD, PhD Newly Released 2006 Version. This is the entire 21 pages of chapter 46 from the 27th Edition of Harpers Biochemistry published in 2006. The chapter is entitled " Glycoproteins ".  Product Education Director from Glyco Labs.
   A. We prefer just seeing a simple human study where a " glyconutrient " complex or supplement was given. That's all. The fact that NOW Foods has introduced a glyconutrient supplement does not give this legitimacy. There are countless products introduced from countless vitamin and drug companies that do not have legitimacy.

Q. There are plenty of studies of the benefits of glyconutrients in humans for cancer, myasthenia gravis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, brain function, bipolar, autism, ADD ADHD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Tay-Sachs, and several others. Of course, this pales in comparison to the thousands of case histories available with objective, verifiable evidence and matters of medical record. Many case histories are documented, and pilot studies are now ongoing or being organized, by the Endowment for Medical research, for Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Huntington’s, Lyme disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and trauma victims that will document the amazing amplification of stem cell proliferation and differentiation in the presence of boosted glycosylation. The information is available for anyone really wanting to find it at www.glycoscience.org, Endowment for Medical Research (www.endowmentmed.org), The Fisher Institute of Medical Research (www.fisherinstitute.org) and the Health and Medical Research Center (www.hmrcenter.net), which now has over 12 years of longitudinal studies that document the reversal of biomarkers of aging in people using glyconutritionals. For one of the most recent additions to the body of papers from Explore Journal, and one that documents studies of asthma, cystic fibrosis and myasthenia gravis, please see an article in Explore Journal: http://www.explorejournal.com/article/PIIS1550830706004162/fulltext.
   Have you taken any Class I, AMA approved Continuing Medical Education credits offered by Proevity (www.proevity.com) on glyconutritionals and glycomics technology? At Glycoscience.org, the following in-depth training is available from Proevity or Glycomics Medical Conference (available on DVD). These papers are quite informative for someone that really wants to learn more: In the menu, select “Glyconutrients”, and then “Overview of Glyconutrients”. Many excellent papers will be listed. Some I recommend are: Introduction to Glyconutritionals. Is Saccharide Supplementation Necessary? Glycoproteins: Crucial Molecules for Health. Glycoproteins: Crucial Molecules for Disease. Glycobiology & Medicine A Millennial Review. Obviously, this is a great deal of information, yet it is barely a tip of the berg of what’s available. There is a lot to the science of glycobiology. You have a large audience through your web site and letters. Please inform them of this. This is the most important discovery in nutrition, and maybe in medicine, of the 20th century. M.D. News, Spring 2002: "Glyconutrition and nutraceuticals are the next phase of dietary supplements. They aid in cell-to-cell communication and promote the body to heal itself. These are not alternatives but complementary practices.” The medical potential…is absolutely enormous. This is one of the ten discoveries that will change the world”. American Scientist, Sep 2003 “Moreover, we have already noted just how critical carbohydrates are to many different biochemical pathways and disease processes—among them, cancer, angiogenesis, tissue repair, skeletal development, cardiovascular disease and microbial infection.” Sugars That Heal, The New Science of Glyconutrients Emil Mondoa, MD, M. Kitei, “Even tiny amounts of these sugars—or lack of them—have profound effects. In test after test conducted at leading institutes around the world, these saccharides have been shown to lower cholesterol, increase lean muscle mass, decrease body fat, accelerate wound healing, ease allergy symptoms, and allay autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetes. The debilitating symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and Gulf War syndrome frequently abate after adding saccharides.”
   A. Sometimes it is easy, as a lay person, with little or no training in biochemistry or medicine, to be confused by several terms that seem to be referring to the same concept but really are not. Many lay people do not have a good idea of the difference between polysacharides, glycoproteins, aloe vera, arabinogalactans, glycoconjugates containing sugar chains such as glycoproteins, glycolipids, and proteoglycans. They think these are all ' glyconutrients ' and thus are similar in their health effect. Also, many people think that just because some of these various sugar-related substances are found on cell tissue it means that ingesting them in a supplement form will have health benefits.
   The article you mention in Explore Journal is not an independent article, rather, if you look carefully, it says: Faculty Disclosure Information: Victor S. Sierpina, MD and Robert K. Murray, MD, PhD have both provided educational and scientific consultation to Mannatech, Inc. Acknowledgment of Support: This activity is supported by an unrestricted educational grant, CME Program DL-06-121, from Mannatech, Inc. Would you fully believe the information in an article on the benefit of a drug if the article is sponsored by a drug company? Besides, in this full length Mannatech sponsored article on glyconutrients, Victor S. Sierpina, MD and Robert K. Murray, MD, PhD seem to have difficultly in finding or discussing a specific study with a Mannatech glyconutrient product that shows any kind of clear benefit in terms of treating a medical condition.
   Simply show us a few human studies published independently that indicate the eight sugars or glyconutrients that Mannatech has put together as a glyconutrient supplement cure a medical condition when ingested in humans. If you do show such a study, the next question would be: Does another supplement or herb or nutrient exist that has a similar benefit at a lesser cost and does not have to be obtained from a multilevel company? There is little doubt that certain sugars combined to other molecules, one clear example being a glucosamine supplement in arthritis, have health benefits. However, this web page on glyconutrients specifically addresses the glyconutrient product sold by Mannatech, and in recent years other companies have put out their own glyconutrient formulas. We don't see the need to use the term glyconutrients since it means little or nothing. We rather use the terms glycoprotein, glycolipid, proteoglycan, polysaccharide, or the individual chemical names such as glucosamine, mannose, arabinogalactan, etc. The term glyconutrient is a creation of Mannatech and adds little but confusion to the area of nutritional research. Any doctor who writes an article using the term glyconutrient as a legitimate nutritional term either does not have a good understanding of nutritional science or is being bought off by Mannatech or another such company.

Q. I have just finished reading your excellent question and answer page on glyconutrients. Do you have any idea how valuable it was to me? I'm not suffering from any especially difficult illness or disease. I'm just interested in improving and protecting my health. The diminished quality of grown food and manufactured food is why I choose to take supplements in the first place. Glyconutrients is a term I came across in my internet investigation of health benefits of taking / drinking Aloe Vera juice, namely, George's Aloe Vera. It tastes like water. My question to you is this: Is there any valid science for taking aloe internally? And in what form is it most helpful? As to your question of human studies with glyconutrients (sugars) I assume that human studies are so expensive to do they would have to be sponsored by a wealthy educational or health institution or government grant. Until that happens you may be waiting quite a while for proof of human benefit from taking glyconutrients or whatever they may be called in the future. Isn't that one of the reasons so many natural supplements are deemed ineffective...lack of human studies? After reading this whole page I am no longer interested in investing in a "band wagon" type of product that may actually be developed in the future by a reputable source. This may or may not be a new and exciting science, but glycoscience.org is obviously a completely self-serving site and they have found several ways to steer a person to them. I question the ability of their product to assist the body in the ways they claim to. I am a true believer in the placebo effect on people that claim to have been helped. They may actually have been helped, but placebos and other remedies have never helped me. Thank you for helping me put the brakes on an impulsive act to buy and try a glyconutrient supplement, rather than growing by knowing ...more.

Q. I am a chiropractor and recently read your page on glyconutrients and agree with the general information. One of the better, objective, concise overviews of glyconutrients can be found at Wikipedia. As the retired M.D. mentioned, and according to Mannatech 's recent glyconutritional patent, the main glyconutrient formula is composed of almost 50% Larch Arabinogalactan (made by Larex, Inc, and is the same arabinogalactan found in other products since this is the only company that makes this product) and about 10% each of Gum Tragacanth, Gum Ghatti, Glucosamine HCl, rice starch (which improves solubility in water) and Manapol (high molecular weight polymannans - chains of mannose - derived from Aloe Vera). (information publicly available on the patent office website). Glucosamine is absorbed, but as the previous M.D. pointed out, the rest of the glyconutrients are beta-linked polysaccharides that are non-digestible in the small intestines of humans. Some digestion by bacteria (e.g. B. thetaiodamicron) in the distal small intestine, and possibly in the colon, may allow some liberated sugars to be absorbed, but the amount absorbed is inconsequential compared to the amount that the normal human body synthesizes on its own every day. However, as soluble fibers, they are effective "Pre-Biotics" for various bacteria such as lactobacillus, bifidus in the large intestine, and as precusors for the production of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyric acid. There is some evidence that different combinations of soluble fibers have slightly different effects on the types of bacteria that are enhanced, and also effect which short-chain fatty acids are predominant. This also effects the pH balance, decreases the amount of ammonia (directly and indirectly), etc. There is significant research on-going showing the benefits of prebiotics to better stimulate probiotic growth, and how this can benefit everything from the immune system fighting the common cold and decreasing symptoms of inflammatory arthritides, to effecting symptoms of Autism and misdiagnosed ADHD by addressing some key intestinal factors (Pretty good review: White JF,Intestinal pathophysiology in autism, Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003 Jun;228(6):639-49. Review. , but there have been quite a few papers on the extensive mucosal pathology found in autistic children since then, and the possible influence this may have). Other mechanims that may be in effect with these substances are via the binding lectins within that colon (e.g. mannan binding lectin, galecting), and their direct and indirect effects on the immune system, GALT, etc. Since many of the opportunistic organisms have complex polysaccharides in their cell membranes, especially mannans and galectins, some of these complex polysaccharides, such as mannans of Aloe, and the arabinogalactans of Larch, may stimulate the immune system via these receptors within the intestinal lumen (and possibly via pinocytic antigenic sampling via M cells) by making the immune system "think" there are larger amounts of these microorganisms present and upregulating both specific and non-specific immune defenses. There is research to suggest other physiologic processes that may be beneficially effected, either directly or indirectly, by these substances, such as effects on blood glucose, liver function, digestion (e.g. increased stimulation of cholecystikinin), etc. Specific, quality research on " glyconutrients " will probably not be done or published anytime soon. Partially because Mannatech has put so much time, effort and resources in promoting the untenable, but popular notion of "8 essential" sugars being the curative factor for their supplement, when this explanation has no support in the current scientific literature. But it is easy to sell to people, and easy for their lay salespeople to explain to potential customers, whereas the actual mechanisms for how they may work are a little more complex and not so pretty to explain. This is not to say their supplements do not have significant beneficial effects. I have seen several people who have tried so many different drugs and alternative treatments get benefits from " glyconutrient " supplements. Hence, I do not doubt that they can have significant benefits in many conditions. This is why so many of their "associates" are so enthusiastic...because it helped them. And Mannatech takes advantage of this, which is why at their seminars they begin with having any associate stand up and give "their story". Most Mannatech associates I know, had significant health benefits from taking these supplements, and then make the mistake of thinking that because it helped them, it can help everyone and everything. I do not deny their possible beneficial effects on health, just the extent of the claims, and the unsupported mechanisms that are claimed by people selling them. (I am not, nor have I ever been associated with Mannatech in any way, nor am I associated with any other nutritional or supplement company). I also note that Mannatech does NOT make the ingredients for their supplement, they buy them from the companies that make them (e.g. Carrington Labs, and Larex, inc) and just mix them together and sell them for many times the cost of the ingredients. While Mannatech does hold the patent on their "glyconutrient" supplement mixture, this does not limit individuals who want to try these supplements, but don't want to pay the exhorbitant price, to buy the ingredients separately and mix them together themselves. The two most important ingredients are probably the arabinogalactan and the Manapol, which do at least have some preliminary studies showing some effects on stimulating the immune system. Inulin, and gum arabic, are some prebiotic substances that are very inexpensive, and could probably be substituted for the other gums, which can be a little more difficult to find and acquire. In the past year, many people on the curezone.com discussion board have switched to mixing their own " glyconutrients " and so far no one has reported anything but the same benefits they got from Mannatech 's product, so it works for them. There are no reports of anyone having to go back to taking Mannatech product, and that speaks well of the less expensive alternative. If a person elects to try these " glyconutrient "supplements for their health, I always recommend a good probiotic supplement as well because the of the synbiotic benefit. I also warn anyone who attemts to take these substances that as the ratio of beneficial bacteria in their large intestine increases (such as bifidus, acidophilus), there is a possibility that it may cause a large amount of other bacteria in their large intestine to "die off" (secondary to pH changes, natural antibiotic substances produced by bifidus / acidophilus, etc). Many of these common coloforms have endotoxins (such as lipopolysaccharides) in their cell wall which are released upon their death. Too quick of a shift in the flora of the large intestine can often cause negative reactions because of quick increase of these substances, especially if they have comorbid intestinal problems that would allow more absorption of these substances, or inability to quickly metabolize them in the liver. So either increasing these substances slowly over time or just recognizing that this is generally a temporary effect, is a good idea. The typical explanation of Mannatech associates is that this is "your body detoxifying". Which is technically correct, though they usually have no idea what they are talking about, or where these toxins actually come from, and why they have the effect that they do. The effect can be severe in some people. Also, as any natural, plant derived substance, allergy or hypersensitivity to these substance can also a factor, for people taking these supplements. If the Aloe a person uses still contains the anthroquinones, then this will cause a laxative effect. If you want to most approximate the type of extract found in Mannatech 's product, then the aloe extract will have these substances filtered out, and will contain the higher molecular weight chains of mannose (mannans), such as Manapol from Carrington labs, or Improve USA's aloe extract. There may be other good sources as well. I don't know if I gave you any information that you didn't already know, but I hope at least some of this information is beneficial.

Q. It was very refreshing to read a perspective on glyconutrients not influenced by money. Keep up the good work and I hope you continue your ethical and objective approach to supplementation reporting.

Q. I have recently been diagnosed with fatty liver from long-term use of antibiotics and a friend gave me the CD's on glyconutrients. I've been all over the internet trying to sift through the information, so I can draw my own conclusion. Thank you so much for making this easier for me. I copied some of your comments on glyconutrients and will give this to my friend!

Q.  I am very disappointed in how so may doctors with Pharmicutical teaching, keep slamming something that is helping so many. You say Glyconutrient is was made up, but so are drug names. The Medical and Pharmicuticals make up a name. Where is the mircal in pharmicutical drugs or where is all these cures?? I believe we need pharmicuticals, to treat not a long time use. and wher is all the cures in the drug medical world!!! Like CANCER 30 plus years ago it was the #8 killer. treatments were chemo, radiation, removel of body parts ans experement drugs. Today with $$$$ billions spent and now #2 soon be #1 killer what is the cure or treatment? The same. I am involved with Mannatech and glyconutrients and these products do not cure anything! but, your body can and i have seen many people i have got involved using glyconutrients see amazing results. I wouls rather give my body FOOD that we do not get in Our diets and with exercise, than toxic drugs. i do not make very much money in Mannatech but i have seen a lot of amazing stories. The medical field (pharmicutical companies) do not want anything like this out there.
   A. When a pharmaceutical drug is created, it is patented and trademarked but I have not heard of a pharmaceutical company claiming that a drug they have created is 'essential' to the human body. They are all marketed for the treatment of a particular condition (whether they really work or not). We should all be very thankful that certain drugs have been invented that save lives, cure infections, and help us with pain management. I don't think anyone would wish to have their leg amputated without anesthesia. We owe it to the pharmaceutical industry for inventing such wonderful anesthetics that make us totally avoid pain while undergoing surgery. We should all be grateful that such pain killers and antibiotics have been created. But I wholeheartedly agree that so little attention has been focused on the natural treatment of medical conditions, particularly chronic medical diseases such as hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. One of my goals in life is to make such information available through this website.

Q. I tried Mannatech Glyconutrients about 6 months ago for a neuromuscular disease. I don't yet have a definitive diagnosis, except that I have autoimmune symptoms. I cannot take any immune stimulants. So, when they advertised their product as being beneficial for autoimmune disease, I tried it. I also wish I never had. I had horrible autoimmune symptoms such as increased numbness in arms and hands, increased weakness in muscles, pain in arms and back and neck area and in hands. I also had much dizziness. I took it for about 5 days before symptoms started, then stopped because I wasn't able to function well at all. These horrible symptoms lasted for about a month, gradually subsiding. This is my experience with glyconutrients.

Q. I was considering trying the Ambrotose products from Mannatech to see what effect it might have in treating multiple sclerosis. I was diagnosed last year. I own pharmacies specializing in helping our patients sort through the truth and fiction of the natural remedies available. So I thought I could be my own one-dog study in starting to research the possibilities of glycobiology. In reading your website, you repeatedly asked for someone to send you any human studies concerning the benefits of "glyconutrients". The n-acetyl glucosamine is the only saccharide I found reference to any human studies. Can you tell me if you know anything about the studies mentioned in the article at the site linked above? They begin by talking about mouse studies, but later in the article they talk about a human study for pediatric IBS and the likely benefits of treating autoimmune diseases. Would it be possible for your staff to check these references and, if legitimate research is being conducted, post the details on your website? I would be very interested, not only for my own MS research, but for the benefit of counseling our patients. Thanks so much- I appreciate the work you do. http://www.newstarget.com/021876.html
   A. IThis web page refers to the lack of human research studies regarding the treatment of a medical diseases with the combination of "eight essential sugars" that Mannatech claims that we are deficient in and supposedly, their combination, helps treat and cures various conditions. There are a number of studies done with various individual sugars and sugar-related compounds. The particular article you note has been done in rodents. I like to see actual human studies. There is no doubt that sugar-related supplements have a role to play in health and disease. My point is that we should not jump ahead and make claims before more evidence is gathered. If you see the link at the top of the page, there is an index that you can scroll down to see research on multiple sclerosis.

Q. I FOUND THESE AT THE ENDOWMENT MED SITE THERE APPEAR TO BE STUDIES.
http://www.endowmentmed.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=583&Itemid=41
   A. Can you do us a favor? Sift through and find one study in the website you provide that shows a Mannatech glyconutrient product given to a group of humans was able to cure or treat a disease. Thanks.
      Q. There seems to be some confusion in the language used, the Mannatech products do not cure or treat any deseases they only help the persons body come into a proper immune status that lets the body do what it is supposed to do, and is designed to do and that is to heal itself. It is about communication between cells, that what these sugars / carbohydrates do, is to communicate one cell with the other. There seems to be countless stories of the person returning to normal health after taking some of the products. I personally was taking some "celltalk" from Roex, that is the same thing. Cell talk, healing sugars, same science as ambertose. I have found many company that supply the glyco products. It seems that you an issue with the Glyconutrient name, but it is just glyco and nutrients,
         A. I am not even sure Mannatech can support the claim that taking their glyconutrient product improves cell to cell communication. How do they go about quantifying or measuring cell to cell communication?

Q. July 2007 - Dr. Sahelian: Thank you for your great unbiased site about Mannatech and glyconutrients! I have been looking into Mannatech and tried to avoid all the hype, just finding plain facts and research. (This is very difficult as
others may have found.) I have been disturbed about this business with glyconutrients, Mannatech and MIT. The various Mannatech sponsored sites and many Mannatech salespeople lead people to believe that MIT named " glyconutrients " as one of the top 10 emerging technologies that will change the world. As a previous contributor to your site has pointed out, this is not true. The article talks of glycomics, not glyconutrients. http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/13060/page10/
   When I presented this information to my Mannatech friend, she stated that there was a SECOND article about MIT and Mannatech, stating that MIT actually named Mannatech and endorsed it. The actual cut and pasted headline from a mannatech site states: "Glyconutritionals Featured at MIT’s 2nd Annual Emerging Technologies Conference"
http://www.glycoscience.org/glycoscience/start_frames.wm?FILENAME=J067
    Again, not true! Mannatech was one of 25 companies who had a booth at this technology showcase, which allowed these companies to present their product to potential investors. How can Mannatech claim that they were "featured", or that MIT even endorsed them at all? This is obviously misleading. I still am researching the science of sugars and glycomics. But this stuff about MIT and Mannatech has put up some huge red flags for me about this company, and hopefully for others too. This company and its salespeople are VERY good salespeople and I believe- very manipulative. I encourage anyone interested in Mannatech to do some independent research- away from Mannatech sponsored sites- this includes glycoscience.org (which all pro-Mannatech people love to refer to.)

Q. I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you for your website. I am so glad I found it. I help people find, filter through and apply to their life habits information from published medical and nutritional journals/reports. Recently I had some one ask me about glyconutrients. I had never heard of such a thing and thought it sounded rather fishy. I asked if they meant glycoproteins and they said no. Then went on to tell how someone was pressuring them to buy some supplement. While I know that fractionated supplementation has it’s place, I believe it is over used and can be very dangerous (eg E and A issues of recent years). So with them on the phone I did a quick google and found your website. I read some excerpts and gave them your web address. With just the information on your site they agreed to hold off on the supplements and asked to meet in 2 days to review any information I can find on the topic. Which so far makes me believe the glyconutrient line is just someone trying to get into your wallet.

Q. I am being heavily marketed by a friend about Body Balance and the so called "Eight Essential Glyconutrients which are essential for optimal health and are required for proper cell function and communication," Thanks for the information on your website. My son-in-law has diabetes and the MLM system seems to be marketing the benefits of this product heavily. My friend has bought into this MLM completely and pushes it at every social event. Thanks again for your research. The other company that pushes this products is LifeForce.

Q. My wife has been cured from a chronic asthma condition since using Glyconutrients without changing anything in her diet or environment! Hope this helps you research.

Q. November 2007 - Glyconutrients - Would you research the so-called glyconutrient issue? It appears from what I've read on your website that you do not support this area of research. It seems inconsistent that you are dismissing this because of the lack of "clinical trials". As we all know, clinical trials on nutritional products are nearly impossible to conduct according to the drug model for these studies. It isn't possible to isolate the direct benefit of nutritional therapy as a cure for a specific disease. It doesn't mean that there is no benefit - just that it can't be validated in the same manner as we validate drug treatment. Please please take a closer look at these products and help us provide sound advice to our patients. I own retail pharmacies dedicated to providing health information and valid natural product therapies along with conventional drugs to restore health to people suffering from nutritionally-related diseases. We consider you to be an important resource for natural products and need your help. Thank you.
   A. I have tried to be very clear about my position on this glyconutrient issue and I think people continue to misinterpret or do not read my comments thoroughly. Let me summarize:
   I have problems with the term glyconutrient since it has no clear definition. I prefer to discuss the research regarding individual sugars and sugar compounds specifically using the names of these substances rather than a nonspecific term such as glyconutrient.
   I have problems with the claims made regarding glyconutrient formulas in terms of treating or curing medical conditions when no such research can be presented by the manufacturers. I have no problems with discussing the benefits or harm of individual sugars and sugar compounds when such research is available. For instance, glucosamine. In fact, I have a formula called Joint Power Rx which has glucosamine in it. We do not claim that Joint Power Rx cures arthritis, only that it supports healthy joints. Companies are allowed to sell their products and formulas as long as claims are not being made that they cure or treat a disease. Over the years glyconutrient products have been marketed with claims that they cure or treat various diseases. Since hardly any human research has been done with these glyconutrient formulas, anecdotes are heavily relied on. Anecdotes are not helpful when multilevel marketing is involved since many, or most, of the anecdotes are made up. Plus, multilevel distributors rarely mention to their clients about the people who did not benefit from their products.
   There are many companies now that sell combination of sugars and sugar compounds and call their products glyconutrients. How are we to compare one formula against another? This is one of the problems with using this unclear and confusing term that has no accepted definition. Both glucosamine and glucomannan are considered by people to be glyconutrients. So are arabinogalactans. Yet, glucosamine is used for arthritis, glucomannan is used as a fiber, and arabinogalactans are used for immune system support. When a person says they are taking a glyconutrient supplement, it does not give us any clues of what's in the product. I would rather a person say, I am taking glucosamine, or I am taking glucomannan, or I am taking an arabinogalactan supplement.
   I am a medical doctor who is enthusiastic about the use of natural supplements, including the potential of certain sugars and sugar compounds.

Q. Thanks for the information on glyconutrient. I came across your web site as I am searching information on glyconutrients. I am testing the product on myself for a couple of months now. I will let you know if I get any results from it. My husband remains very skeptical and claims if it is such a great product, why doesn't Mannatech, Inc. just make it available in stores for the public at lower price. I am hearing a large part of the profit is spent on bonus to their members. I agree with him. Instead of giving the profit to members, make the product affordable for more people who really need it, if it really does what they claim to do.

Q. Great website! Read all the posts concerning glyconutrients. If people would dig a little further, they would not only find that glycoscience.org is sponsored by Mannatech, but they have direct ties to the Fischer Institute and pretty much everything else they reference as "independent support". One of the board members heads the "independent studies" conducted in England where he works and is on the Mannatech payroll. The presumption is that the sugars pass unaltered through the body and end up in the cells, yet little has been done to verify that fact. If these glyconutrients were so lacking in our systems and so critical to our health, we'd all be in seriously bad shape, but the fact remains we produce them and the majority of us are fine.
   It's pure stupidity to believe one individual experienced some divine inspiration right at the time regulations were relaxed for marketing supplements, found a company down the road that was producing this glyconutrient magical extract, founded a company to market it, and it's so incredible that almost all the references to cures come in the form of testimonials, yet there are so few "associates" who have been "cured". Face it. If they were that fantastic, they would not lose most of their associates within the first year. If it was so incredible everyone who was "saved" would be selling it. If it was so incredible they would rush to the FDA to get approval as a drug for the treatment of all these diseases, put the pharmaceutical companies out of business, and save everyone. Suddenly, through the magic of marketing, glyconutrients are the next big thing. While having a brush with divinity, was the founder told keep it all
hush hush? I mean if this is divine inspiration at work, I would suspect the message would include, "Spend all your money for commercials and advertisement via every available means to get the word out that I have given mankind this cure for everything." Not..."Send an army of people full of visions of wealth out into the world to say it cures
everything while the man behind the curtain holds up a sign saying it doesn't cure a thing and I'm not liable because they're independent contractors that I can't control."

Q. I appreciate your article on glyuconutrients. I too have been doing research on Ambrotose for my son and have been unable to find a legitimate glyconutrient study. On the other hand, I am a desperate mother. So my question to you is, if Ambrotose is just a variety of sugars is there harm in taking it? I know you don't know side-effects because of the lack of information, but generally speaking can its ingredients affect the heart or other major organs?
   A. I am not aware of any major side effects or dangers reported with the use of an Ambrotose glyconutrient product.

Q. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago and there were lesions on the lungs. Her oncologist told me that without treatment she would live for 6 to 8 months. She embarked on the traditional treatment of chemo and within a few months had improved enough to stop chemo. A year later she was back on chemo but this time had fallen foul of the glyconutrient marketing. What I read on your pages is exactly what she would tell me. Miraculous cures, cell communication, essential sugars and so it goes on. Every time we spoke she would spend 15 minutes telling me the same things and I would wonder if she was trying convince me or herself. Her second bout of chemo ended after a few months. Her oncologist recommended she take chemo tablets but she refused, choosing glyconutrients as this was going to sort out the cancer. A year later she is taking chemo tablets and does not talk at all about glyconutrients. A classic victim of marketing hype.

I stumbled upon your website quite by accident. A pleasant one, though, I must say. I was looking for more information on " glyconutrients " by means of another "untainted" source outside of the Mannatech realm and I started seeing "scam" lines everywhere. Yikes! Then I read some very balanced information in your Q/A section that was very good.

Hello there, I just wanted to comment on your article re: glyconutrients. I, myself, became involved with Mannatech as an associate several years ago. I didn’t become involved for the money (though it would have been nice to make some but I never did. Not terribly good with sales!) However, I did use the product myself as did my husband and children. I would still be using it if I could afford to. I found many health benefits, which could not have been coincidental, as I have been on and off the products several times over the years. I was clearly told by the company and there literature that glyconutrients do not cure any disease, but that they provide the body with a form of nutrition which assists the body to function at it’s optimum level. The body is then better able to heal or cure itself. People who state that glyconutrients heal or cure disease are sometimes mistaken or over enthusiastic because of results they have witnessed. From my own experience I can honestly say that l felt much better while using the Mannatech products. I had much more energy and was less tired. I gained muscle and lost cellulite. I had much better resistance to viruses and rarely became ill. Very few colds etc. My dermatitis disappeared. None of this occurs overnight but with ongoing use over a few months. People would comment on how well I looked and I felt ten years younger. I would definitely remain on glyconutrients if I was able to afford them. My sons asthma virtually disappears while taking Mannatech’s AO supplement. I still have him on it. His allergies also improve.

I thank you for your review. I wrote to an Mannatech Associate just highlighting some of the information I read. Instead of providing with me hard core evidence, he responds by slamming each person who wrote and providing with me more testimonials.

I just read your article on Mannatech and have wide experience with them. The bottom line is the Products PLUS and Sport have Mexican wild yam in them. I have found that DHEA is made from the yam. The yam also has precursors to DHEA. There is much on the internet that proves DHEA causes mania. [that type of physiological effect as found in bipolar disorder]. I was a professional jet pilot for 25 years before taking Mannatech Plus. I was involuntarily committed to mental health hospitals for 6 months as the result of suffering '' bipolar like mania with delusions]. I am not the only one out there that has had this experience OR effect from Mannatech Plus and or Sport. Please get the word out. DHEA is not allowed by the Olympic Committee but they allow Mannatech.
    Wild yam is not know to convert into DHEA in the human body.

There are a few points I would like to make regarding the material there;1. Mannatech as a company has never promoted their products as a cure for ANY disease or TREATMENT of ANY disease. They have only promoted them (the Products) as supporting the bodies natural functions. 2. After the Taxas AG finished their law suit they concluded that Mannatech was exonerated from all charges. It was some over-zealous associates in the field that were responsible for the inappropriate health claims. 3.The site called "glycoscience.org" has been pulled from the internet, so it is quite inappropiate to refer people to that site on your site. Incidentally for your information the new science web site is mannatechscience dot org. 4. The connection between the Nobel Prize winners and Mannatech has never been endorsed by Mannatech and instructions have gone out to all associates to NOT make any such statements connecting Mannatech with the Doctors who won the prize through their research on cellular communication. 5. My last point, Mannatech has always been in compliance with the federal DESHA law past by a majority.There are a number of other inaccuracies in your very biased web site that you ought to correct. I might also add that you will never find any disease related studies due to the fact that if there were and positive results found, then the products would fall under the drug category and be subject to FDA regulations.I hope you find this helpful in your quest for honesty and integrity in reporting such information.

I am from South Africa and I have several medical conditions I have started using Mannatech products because I cannot use medication. Since I have started using the products my health has improved. I see my specialist every 6 months and she knows that I am using Mannatech products she recommends that I do not stop using it.