AHCC and Autoimmune Disease: A Primer
Autoimmune diseases are becoming more and more common. The incidences of people being diagnosed with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Grave’s Disease, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and type 1 diabetes are on the rise. While the exact known causes of these autoimmune diseases is hard to define, we do know that these diseases are all linked to an over-active immune system.
Essentially, the immune system is working overtime and is attacking the body trying to fight a disease when there is no disease to be fought. This results in unnecessary inflammation, and causes the body to overreact. In the case of ulcerative colitis, this results in ulcers developing in the colon, causing extreme pain, bloody diarrhea and permanent damage to the colon.
The Immune System
We know that the immune system has many levels of function and that communication between immune responders involves a complex range of cells. Your immune system is constantly scanning your body to determine if bacteria, viruses, toxins, parasites, and other pathogens have entered your system or if any of your cells have mutated and become abnormal. There are two basic types of immunity: innate and adaptive. Your innate immune system is responsible for launching an immediate non-specific attack against a threat. Your adaptive immune system is not as fast-acting but produces a specific response to the particular microbe. Together the innate and adaptive immune systems work together to keep you healthy and well.
Innate immune system:
- Natural Killer (NK) cells
- Dendritic cells
- B and T cells
AHCC and Autoimmune Diseases
When your immunity is compromised, such as with an autoimmune disease, you need to support your immune system to defend against the attacks happening in your body. You might be wondering how and why AHCC works in these situations. AHCC is recognized for turning up the dial on your natural immune response, to help you fight any threats to your health. Why would you want to turn up the activity level of an already overactive immune system? This is a question that researchers set out to understand in a number of studies looking at various autoimmune diseases and AHCC. Specifically looking at what role the innate immune system has on autoimmune diseases – remember this is the fast-acting immune system. Recent studies have shown that NK cells, while responsible for recognizing and destroying cells such as viruses and infections, are also responsible for regulating the autoimmune response. Dendritic cells have shown to be impacted by the work done by NK cells in your body. This can result in people who have an autoimmune disease having low levels and impaired function of their NK cells. This has been revealed in autoimmune thyroid disease, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
This is why we want to look closer at how we can stimulate these NK cells. While it is important to not over stimulate the body when we’re dealing with autoimmune disease, we do know that certain immunomdulators can have a positive impact in putting autoimmune disease into remission. As you know AHCC helps to increase the response/amount of your NK cells and is known to have a positive impact on the immune system. Studies have shown that AHCC can increase NK cell activity to normal levels in people who have a depressed level of NK cells. In looking specifically at autoimmune disease, AHCC was observed to deliver a protective effect in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes, the standard animal model of type-1 diabetes. Treatment of rats with STZ led to increased blood glucose, decreased serum insulin, and an increase in serum aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase levels. Daily supplementation with AHCC for 1 week prior to and 2 weeks after STZ treatment significantly decreased or normalized STZ-induced changes in blood glucose, serum insulin, serum aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase levels. To learn more about this research and other studies done to learn how AHCC can positively impact autoimmune disease, read our latest scientific research paper titled: Immune Modulator for Autoimmune Disease? In this article, we take a much deeper scientific look at how AHCC works in your body and how it can help you if you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease.