According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, the majority of adults in the United States today take one or more dietary supplements either every day or occasionally. With this increase in usage has come an increased concern about supplement side effects.
Supplements are often chosen for their potential health benefits; yet supplement side effects need to be carefully researched to ensure they won’t cause complications with existing prescriptions or health conditions. If in doubt, it is always a good idea to talk to a physician or health care provider.
Since AHCC was first developed in 1983 from the roots of Japanese medicinal mushrooms, safety studies have been conducted according to standards equivalent to the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), standards for clinical research protocols on the safety of medicines. Below is a summary of the research findings and measures taken to address other common supplement safety concerns.
Supplement Side Effects
Under the AHCC Research Association, professionals from medical institutions and universities worldwide have been working to prove AHCC’s medical reliability. Thus far, researchers have produced volumes of reports on basic research and studies related to clinical and safety issues. Dozens of studies have been published in journals, while scores of case reports have been documented.
The results thus far have been promising, as AHCC has been shown to have no reported side effects when taken in appropriate amounts or when taken with conventional medications or supplements. Thousands of patients have benefited while taking AHCC.
Specifically, in 2007, AHCC underwent a Phase 1 clinical trial, a study designed to assess the initial safety of compounds with potential for medicinal uses. The clinical safety and tolerability of AHCC in healthy subjects was researched, including its safety on subjects given three times the amount of AHCC typically used in clinical applications.
In this particular trial, 26 healthy human test subjects between the age of 18 and 61 years of age were treated with AHCC in liquid form daily for 14 days. The dosage given was 9 grams a day. Data was taken before the trial began and then again after 14 days; additional information was collected in the form a questionnaire given three times during the trial.
The researchers concluded that:
“When used in high dose in healthy subjects, AHCC causes no significant abnormality in laboratory parameters. The adverse effects of 9 grams of liquid AHCC per day, a higher dose than used in routine clinical applications, are minimal and the dose was tolerated by 85% of the subjects. This trial supports the anecdotal evidence that AHCC is a safe supplement in clinical practice and that the side effects are generally mild and tolerable.”
Additional Safety Considerations
There are two common concerns, in addition to supplement side effects, that should be considered when taking a dietary supplement.
1. Consistent Quality
The first concern is making sure the supplement is of a consistent quality.
Health foods derived from mushrooms are natural products, which often means the components may differ depending on the producer and how the products are manufactured.
The actual ingredient AHCC is produced and manufactured by one company in Japan. It is created under a strict proprietary production method and culturing system that prevents contamination from foreign microorganisms and facilitates a stable culturing environment for the entire process. When AHCC is produced, the chemical constituents and the quality are consistently maintained through attention to every detail of the manufacturing process and the latest technology.
Furthermore, computer monitoring is used to ensure the proper culture conditions—including temperature and stirring—are always controlled.
2. Drug Interactions
Some supplements have been shown to interact with prescription medications. For this reason it is important to always notify your doctor of any supplements you may be taking before undergoing any type of medical procedure or beginning any new prescription medication.
However, AHCC has been carefully researched on this front and evaluations, including some done at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, have shown that AHCC can be taken along with most conventional medications without initiating any drug-supplement interactions. This includes most chemotherapy drugs (in which case research actually shows AHCC may help reduce the negative impacts of chemotherapy), supportive therapies, such as antidepressants, and anti-nausea medications, such as insulin and OTC drugs.
Furthermore, AHCC has been shown to induce an enzyme called CYP450 2D6, which is involved in certain metabolic processes. If taken with drugs such as doxorubicin (an antibiotic used in chemotherapy) or tamoxifen (breast cancer prescription drug), which are substrates of this enzyme, it may affect their activity.
As safety studies have shown, AHCC has no adverse side effects within the recommended dosages. Nonetheless, as with any dietary supplement, if you have any pre-existing conditions or are taking prescription medications, it is always a good idea to consult your health care provider before use.
Are supplement side effects a major concern for you? Do you still have questions about AHCC? Let us know in the comments and we’ll address them in future blog posts.