Are There Any Side Effects from Taking AHCC®?
The world of natural health products is ever-expanding. Whether it is a new herbal tincture or a powder to sprinkle into your latte, our cabinets have never been so stocked with plant and isolated nutrients.
Herbal medicines offer an attractive healing modality due to their broad-spectrum effect and low potency. Compared to pharmacologically produced drugs, plant medicine is generally safer for human use.
However, just because something comes from the earth doesn’t mean it is good for you or risk-free.
Before taking any nutritional supplement, it is important to consider potential side effects and interactions with other medications or supplements. Is AHCC® right for you? Here is what you need to know.
Side Effects of AHCC®
AHCC® has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as an immune support. Anecdotally, the compound has held up as a potent immune modulator and promoter of longevity. In Japan, AHCC® is commonly used alongside conventional cancer treatments to help support immunity. More recently, clinical research has supported its tolerability in both immunocompromised and healthy people with limited side effects.
Currently, there have been no significant adverse events reported in human trials. The manufacturer of AHCC® estimates that over 300,000 people have been exposed to AHCC® in the past 10 years of its production with no significant effects reported.
Research has also evaluated the risk of taking an elevated dose of AHCC®. A phase I trial found no side effects, abnormal vital signs, or laboratory findings in 85% of healthy participants taking a daily dose of 9 grams. The 9-gram dose is three times the standard dose used by most patients in clinical practice.
Two out of the 30 participants dropped out of the study, one due to nausea and vomiting during the first week and another disliked the smell of the liquid supplement. Four other participants reported mild side effects of headaches, cramps in their toes, mild diarrhea, and fatigue.
Several research studies have also found supplementing AHCC® alongside chemotherapy agents improved patient’s quality of life and reduced adverse side effects of nausea and vomiting. In a study of Japanese women treated for breast cancer, AHCC00AE reduced the severity of neutropenia (low white blood cell count) induced by two chemotherapeutic agents, suggesting the compound may be useful in reducing the toxicity of chemotherapy treatment.
Dose and Duration
The right dose of AHCC® depends on an individual’s health status and reason for use. For general immune support, a dose of 1-3 grams daily is typically recommended. For immune support in cancer patients and responding to HPV, a dose of 3-6 grams daily is recommended for at least 3 months.
How To Take AHCC®
Clinical research studies have found that taking AHCC® on an empty stomach is the most effective. However, some patients may experience nausea or irritation taking a supplement without food. In which case, we recommend taking the supplement with food if the patient is prone to stomach upset.
Research has shown that supplementing AHCC® alongside other medications like chemotherapy agents and antidepressants is safe and well-tolerated by most people.
There is one exception – drugs that are metabolized using the CYP450 2D6 detoxification pathway in the liver. AHCC® can interfere with the metabolism of drugs like doxorubicin, ondansetron, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and tamoxifen. Therefore, it is important to consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before using AHCC® if you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, or supplements of any sort.
What We Don’t Know
Despite being one of the most well-researched immune supporting herbs, we still don’t know everything about AHCC® and how it reacts in different individuals. Current human trials have mostly investigated AHCC® in patients with cancer, influenza, and viral infections like HPV.
Because AHCC® is an immune modulator, meaning it helps support immune function, there could be sensitivity in individuals with autoimmune disorders. In patients with multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or similar conditions, AHCC® may boost the immune system reaction and end up worsening these conditions. Therefore, we do recommend seeking professional advice before supplementing AHCC®.
When In Doubt…
Although supplementing with AHCC® is generally unlikely to cause any harm or side effects, it is always important to check with your healthcare provider before starting a nutritional supplement. Because AHCC® is relatively new to Western medicine, many medical professionals may be unaware of the compound and its therapeutic effect.
Naturopathic doctors, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, or other functional medical practitioners may be better able to address your questions and concerns about AHCC®.
Alternatively, you can always send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.