What Are glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) And What Herbs Contain Them?

old message What Are Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) And What Herbs Contain Them? Darrell Miller 07/21/15

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Date: July 21, 2015 08:53 PM
Subject: What Are Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) And What Herbs Contain Them?

Glycosaminoglycans refers to a linear unbranched polysacharide chain molecule composed of disaccharides repeats with a high negative charge due to the presence of Uronic acid components and sulfate esters with some hydoxyl (OH) groups as part of its structural components. They have varying molecular size and sulfation depending on the tissue they are located on and their state. They function to attract cations and maintain the hydration of the extracellular membrane (E.C.M).

Glycoaminoglycans are classified into different groups based on different categories which include; glycosidic linkages in their structure, type of the sugar moiety, sulphate groups numbers and the location of the sulfate groups. Based on this various classification categories six major groups of GAGs exists, namely; heparin, hyaluronan, dermatan sulfate, heparin sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and keratan sulfate.

GAGs have a high solvation degree and and are as well highly viscous. This is beneficial to the body in that it helps to cushion and lubricate various connective tissues and body joints respectively. It therefore protects an individual from joint pains due to poor lubrication of the joints causing the bone to slide over each other. They also form the building blocks of proteoglycans which are the major building blocks of the extracellular matrix. Due to this property they are vital in determining the cellular activities such as cell division because the cell division machinery has to attach itself to the extracellular matrix before the division process is initiated. Some body tissues such as the nerve cells and the muscle cells require continuous cell division to replace worn out cells for the normal functioning. This means that structural deformities in the extracellular matrix will hinder the division process to occur and is most likely to lead to some neurodegenerative complexions.

Recent studies have linked GAGs to play a role in the cell biology of cancer.They have been established as the key macromolecules affecting cell properties and functions through interaction with key growth factors or by acting directly as receptor molecules. Through this it has been findings they play a vital role in the cell signaling process thus playing a role in the cancer disease progression.Heparin and heparin sulfate have been indicated through studies to have anti-tumor effects by preventing the process of angiogenesis which is the first step in cancer metastasis.Some have been associated with anti-coagulant properties.


Therefore GAGs are important molecules which play a vital role in protection against various forms of cancers. GAGs aremostly obtained from animal sources. The animal sources include shark fish and ray skeletons. Plants are also sources of GAGs, however their digestion by the human system is not possible. Seaweed is one herb that is rich in GAGs. However as earlier explain the digestion of the sea weed by the animal digestive system is quite a challenge. It is therefore recommended that we eat foods rich in proteins, and carbohydrates which can be used to synthesize GAGs in the body.

In summary, GAGs are heteropolymers which acts as the building blocks of the extracellular matrix in animals. The body has the ability to synthesize GAGs naturally hence nutritional supplement is required for the body to obtain key components necessary for the synthesis.

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