Pectins are gel-forming polysaccharides from plant cell walls, especially apple and citrus fruits. Pectins are a type of viscous dietary fiber and vary in the length of their polysaccharide chains, from 300-1,000 monosaccharides. Although pectins are not digestible by humans, modified citrus pectin (MCP) is altered to increase their absorbability. Pectin from citrus rinds is depolymerized through a treatment with sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid. The resultant smaller molecule is comprised predominantly of D-polygalacturonates and may be more easily absorbed by the human digestive system.
Modified citrus pectin is most often used as an adjuvant to cancer therapy to prevent metastasis. Modified citrus pectin is still considered an experimental therapy for cancer and should be used as an adjuvant to standard cancer therapy under medical supervision. Pectins, including modified citrus pectin, have also been investigated for possible cardiovascular benefits, including lowering cholesterol and reducing atherosclerosis. Clinical studies are also needed in these areas.
Some experts caution that citrus pectin and all "modified" citrus pectins may not have the same effects as modified citrus pectin. Citrus pectin does not have the same short polysaccharide chains as modified citrus pectin, and "modified" pectin could indicate that the pectin has been altered in some way, but not necessarily have the shorter polysaccharide chains.
Citrus pectin, depolymerized pectin, fractioned pectin, MCP, modified pectin, PectaSol®, pH-modified pectin.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Detoxification (toxic excretion)
Modified citrus pectin may increase the excretion of metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Additional study is needed in this area before a firm recommendation can be made.
Modified citrus pectin may reduce the metastasis of certain types of cancers, including lung, prostate, and breast. More research is needed in this area, especially with other types of cancer and with other criteria for prostate cancer progression.