Beano (dietary supplement)

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Beano over-the-counter dietary supplement, packaged in boxes

Beano is an enzyme-based dietary supplement that is used to reduce gas in the digestive tract, thereby improving digestion and reducing bloating, discomfort, and flatulence caused by gas. It contains the enzyme alpha-galactosidase (α-GAL). It was introduced as a liquid, but that has been discontinued and it is now available only as tablets and strawberry-flavored "Meltaways".

Beano is marketed and distributed by Prestige Consumer Healthcare, Inc.

Mechanism of action

Beano contains the enzyme α-GAL, which is derived from the fungus Aspergillus niger. The enzyme works in the digestive tract to break down the complex or branching sugars (polysaccharides and oligosaccharides) in foods such as legumes (beans and peanuts) and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts, among others). The enzyme breaks those complex sugars into simple sugars, making these foods somewhat more digestible, and reducing intestinal gas.[1]

The polysaccharides and oligosaccharides found in these foods might otherwise pass through the small intestine unaffected. Once in the large intestine, those sugars may be metabolized by intestinal flora, fermenting to produce the gases that cause discomfort and flatulence.

Two randomized controlled trials show reduction in gas by subjects taking oral α-GAL.[2][3] Another study indicates it may interfere with the diabetic medication acarbose.[4]


Beano was developed in 1990 by Alan Kligerman of AkPharma after research into gas-causing vegetables that had begun in 1981.[5][6] The idea for such a product was proposed at least as early as the 1780s in Benjamin Franklin's essay "A Letter To A Royal Academy". In 1991, Kligerman was awarded the inaugural Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for inventing Beano.[7]

Its patent was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in 2001 from Block Drug.[8] GlaxoSmithKline sold Beano and 16 other brands to Prestige Brands in 2012.[9]

Beano received U.S. Patent 5,445,957 on August 29, 1995.[10] The estimated expiration date of the patent is December 5, 2014. As of early 2013, more than four dozen competing products were on the market.

In April 2014, the brand introduced Beano +Dairy Defense.[11]

Use in brewing

Simple sugars are also produced as a consequence of the malting process that eventually produces beer. The complex sugars are not broken down by the yeast, and are eventually consumed by the beer drinker, possibly causing flatulence. Homebrewers have found adding Beano to their brew may produce a beer that has a less malty flavor.[12] The Beano breaks the complex sugars into simple sugars, and these simple sugars are consumed by the yeast, producing alcohol (or some acetic acid in the aerobic reactions in early fermentation).


  1. ^ "Gas in the Digestive Tract". National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Archived from the original on 2014-10-11. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  2. ^ Di Stefano M, Miceli E, Gotti S, Missanelli A, Mazzoccahi S, Corazza GR (January 2007). "The effect of oral alpha-galactosidase on intestinal gas production and gas-related symptoms". Dig. Dis. Sci. 52 (1): 78–83. doi:10.1007/s10620-006-9296-9. PMID 17151807. S2CID 35435660.
  3. ^ Ganiats TG, Norcross WA, Halverson AL, Burford PA, Palinkas LA (November 1994). "Does Beano prevent gas? A double-blind crossover study of oral alpha-galactosidase to treat dietary oligosaccharide intolerance". J Fam Pract. 39 (5): 441–5. PMID 7964541.
  4. ^ Lettieri JT, Dain B (1998). "Effects of beano on the tolerability and pharmacodynamics of acarbose". Clin Ther. 20 (3): 497–504. doi:10.1016/s0149-2918(98)80059-3. PMID 9663365.
  5. ^ "US Patent 6,344,196".
  6. ^ "US Patent 5,989,544".
  7. ^ "Improbable Research". August 2006.
  8. ^ "GlaxoSmithKline Completes the Purchase of Block Drug for $1.24 Billion". PR Newswire. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  9. ^ Ranii, David (21 December 2011). "GSK sells BC, Goody's and other brands". The News & Observer. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012.
  10. ^ "US Patent 5,445,957".
  11. ^ "Dairy Defense - Beano®". Archived from the original on 2014-07-15. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  12. ^ "Morebeer's Brew Chat • View topic - Beano (The anti-gas stuff) helps brewing?". Archived from the original on 2016-09-18.

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