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Ambrotose is a proprietary supplement marketed by Mannatech. It is supposed to provide saccharides that are used in glycoconjugate synthesis for promoting cellular communication and better immune support.

What is Ambrotose?

Ambrotose, according to its makers, is a combination of sugars that the human body uses for making glycoproteins.

According to proponents, Ambrotose is known to have beneficial effects on various medical conditions that range from mental health to asthma, sleep disorders, hypertension, allergies, and memory disorders.

Based on limited study, they also claim that it has a beneficial effect on the immune system.

There's no proper scientific backing for any of these claims.

What is Glycoproteins?

Ambrotose is known to work on glycoproteins. So what are glycoproteins?

A unique protein that has oligosaccharides attached to it, the glycoprotein is a vital component in cellular communication. They are essential for our normal biological functioning.

These glycoproteins are made in our bodies from the food we take. Only a very minuscule percentage of the human population (suffering from genetic conditions) have glycoprotein deficiency.

Sufficient studies have not been undertaken to show that the addition of “glyconutrients” does help in the treatment or prevention of any disorder.

Glyconutrient supplements have not undergone any rigorous trials for safety, but since they are developed from plant sources, they probably are safe, except for an occasional allergic reaction.

The real danger lies in substituting it for proven therapies. As a matter of fact, the American Cancer Society has issued a warning stating that patients should not use glyconutrient supplements for boosting their immune system instead of medicines.

The Controversies

So, what is the fuss all about?

Mannatech, which sells the Ambrotose, the so-called glyconutrient dietary supplement, claims that it can cure ailments ranging from AIDS, ADHD, MS, fibromyalgia, cancer, colitis, cystic fibrosis, lupus, diabetes, wound healing, to neuralgia, among others.

The company also claimed Ambrotose “cured” Down syndrome and changed the characteristic facial features.

There is, however, very little scientific backing about these benefits. The scientific community has not accepted even the term “glyconutrients.”

Glyconutrients

As stated earlier, the scientific community has not accepted the term “glyconutrients.” This is a term coined by Mannatech for marketing its products.

According to Mannatech, the human body does not get proper doses of eight vital sugars - fucose, glucose, galactose, mannose, xylose, N-acetylglucosamine, N-acetylgalactosamine, and N-acetylneuraminic acid – from food. So, the addition of their supplement will be beneficial.

The Society for Glycobiology, a scholarly society, however, does not agree. The society even has put a disclaimer on its website, debunking these claims.

Even a detailed PubMed clinical search for the term “glyconutrients” brings up only five articles, one of which is a critique by Schanaar and Freeze. The authors believe that these are just claimed to promote the sales of a modern-day version of snake oil.

According to the authors, the body biosynthesizes various monosaccharides which it requires from the food that we eat.

They suggest that the components present in Ambrotose can’t be adequately digested since a human body lacks the necessary enzymes to digest these.

Patents

Mannatech claims that Ambrotose has got patents for its products.

They, however, very conveniently do not inform that the patent office does not determine if the product does indeed work. The patent application only claims to use it for the treatment of several disorders and does not give any proof of therapeutic effect.

Scientific Backing

Whatever be the science involved, the average Joe is more concerned if any scientific evidence does prove that Ambrotose has any clinical benefits.

A detailed PubMed search yielded only a few articles, all of which were far from convincing. These studies were as follows:
  1. A placebo-controlled study (small group) reported tremendous improvement in working memory recognition in middle-aged adults suffering from mental fatigue.
  2. An open-label study which highlighted changes in N-glycosylation (serum protein) in healthy adults. Biologic significance was not yet determined.
  3. A double-blind crossover study showed higher resting blood antioxidant capacity, which may improve the post-exercise antioxidant capacity. But the USDA rejected this because the company used ORAC to measure antioxidant capacity.
  4. An open-label study (forced titration) tried to determine the optimal dose. This again depended on ORAC.
  5. A study conducted on rats showed it induced colitis.
There was also an opinion piece regarding the benefits of having Ambrotose. The opinion piece stated there was not a single piece of evidence for backing any therapeutic claims.

In Conclusion

Based on the above findings, one can easily say that Ambrotose is nothing but a marketing sham perpetrated by Mannatech.

Lack of proper scientific study makes it dangerous to use this product in place of well-researched medicines that have proven efficacy.

One has to remember that any addition of supplements should have the backing of your doctor. Not having a proper discussion before using these things is like playing with fire.