Drugs A - Z
Generic Name: astaxanthin diphosphate
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Alpha-carotene, Antarctic krill, AST, Astacarox®, astaxanthin-amino acid conjugate, astaxanthin diester, astaxanthin dilysinate tetrahydrochloride, ASX, Atlantic salmon, basidiomycete yeast, beta-carotene, BioAstin®, canthaxanthin, canthoxanthin, Cardax®, carotenoid, crayfish, crustaceans, DDA, disodium disuccinate astaxanthin, E161j, Euphausia superba, gamma-tocopherol, green microalgae, Haematococcus algae extract, Haematococcus pluvialis, krill, lutein, lycopene, meso-astaxanthin, microalgae, non-esterified astaxanthin, non-provitamin A carotenoid, ovoester, Phaffia rhodozyma, red carotenoid, retinoid, salmon, shrimp, sockeye salmon, tetrahydrochloride dilysine astaxanthin salt, tomato, trout, wild salmon, Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous, xanthophylls.
Astaxanthin is classified as a xanthophyll, which is a carotenoid pigment, and can be found in microalgae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp, crayfish, crustaceans, and the feathers of some birds. Haematococcus pluvialis, a green microalga and one of the richest sources of natural astaxanthin, was reviewed and cleared for marketing by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 1999 as a new dietary ingredient by means of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) (21 CRF part 190.6).
Astaxanthin is most commonly used as an antioxidant and may be beneficial in decreasing the risks of certain chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Astaxanthin may also be effective in carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle strength and endurance, high cholesterol (LDL oxidation), musculoskeletal injuries, and male infertility.
Astaxanthin has been used as a feed supplement and food coloring additive for salmon, crabs, shrimp, chickens, and egg production. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, astaxanthin is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used as a color additive in salmon foods to obtain the desired pink to orange-red color.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: 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.
Carpal tunnel syndrome:
There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of astaxanthin for carpal tunnel syndrome. Additional study is needed in this area.
High cholesterol (LDL oxidation):
There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of astaxanthin for LDL oxidation prevention. More research is needed to make a firm recommendation.
There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of astaxanthin for male fertility. Additional study is needed in this area.
Astaxanthin may have positive effects on muscle strength. Better-quality trials are needed before a recommendation can be made.
Astaxanthin does not appear effective for muscle injury prevention. Additional study is needed before a firm recommendation can be made.
There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of astaxanthin for rheumatoid arthritis. More study is warranted in this area.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Antiandrogen (blocks male hormones), antibacterial, antihypertensive (lowers high blood pressure), anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, asthma, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries, prevention), autoimmune diseases, back pain (chronic), benign prostate hyperplasia, cancer, canker sores, cardiovascular disease (prevention and treatment), central nervous system disorders, dementia (vascular), diabetes, dyspepsia (upset stomach), exercise capacity improvement, eye problems, Helicobacter pylori infection, immune stimulant, neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases), stroke, ultraviolet light skin damage protection, weight loss.
Adults (18 years and older)
In general, manufacturers have reported that 3 gelcaps BioAstin® astaxanthin (6 milligrams) by mouth at each meal for eight weeks was safe in adults. Similarly, no toxicity or side effects were noted when taking up to 19.25 milligrams of AstaFactor® by mouth for 29 days.
Doses typically range from 2-12 milligrams per day for two weeks to six months. BioAstin® has been used for carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, musculoskeletal injury, and sunburn. For male infertility, 16 milligrams (AstaCarox®) by mouth daily for three months has been used. No dose has been proven safe or effective.
Various seafoods contain the astaxanthin pigment. A standard serving portion of 4 ounces of Atlantic salmon contains from 0.5-1.1 milligrams of astaxanthin, whereas the same amount of sockeye salmon may contain 4.5 milligrams of astaxanthin.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is currently a lack of available scientific evidence to recommend the use of astaxanthin in children.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to astaxanthin or related carotenoids, including canthaxanthin, or hypersensitivity to an astaxanthin algal source, such as Haematococcus pluvialis.
Side Effects and Warnings
According to the Code of Federal Regulations, astaxanthin is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used as a color additive in salmon foods. Astaxanthin is likely safe when used as an antioxidant and as adjunctive support in cancer treatment, cardiovascular disease treatment and ocular (eye) health promotion.
Side effects of astaxanthin use may include decreased blood pressure, increased skin pigmentation and hair growth, hormonal changes, lowered calcium levels in the blood, altered blood counts, decreased libido, and enlargement of the breasts (in men).
Astaxanthin should be used cautiously in patients with hypertension (high blood pressure), asthma, parathyroid disorders, or osteoporosis. Avoid use in patients with known allergies to astaxanthin, hormone-sensitive conditions or immune disorders.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Astaxanthin has been studied as an agent to treat male infertility, although results were inconclusive.
Interactions with Drugs
Astaxanthin may decrease blood pressure. Patients currently taking blood pressure lowering medications should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
Astaxanthin may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other drugs may become too high in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other drugs possibly have on the P450 system.
Astaxanthin may inhibit Helicobacter pylori growth and have an additive effect when taken with other medications that have a similar effect.
Astaxanthin may have hormonal effects and may interact with other hormone-altering medications, such as medications taken for menopause or birth control pills. It may also interact with immunomodulating medications.
Astaxanthin may lower calcium levels in the blood. In theory, it may interact with parathyroid medications and caution is advised.
Astaxanthin may decrease low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation and may interact with other cholesterol-lowering medications, such asrofecoxib (Vioxx®, taken off the U.S. market). Patients taking any medications should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Astaxanthin may decrease blood pressure. Patients currently taking blood pressure lowering herbs and supplements should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
Astaxanthin may lower calcium levels in the blood. In theory, it may interact with herbs and supplements that alter parathyroid function and caution is advised.
Concomitant use of astaxanthin with other carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, canthaxanthin, and lycopene) may decrease the absorption of astaxanthin, due to competitive absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. Caution is advised.
Astaxanthin may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.
Astaxanthin may inhibit Helicobacter pylori growth and have an additive effect when taken with other herbs and supplements that have a similar effect. It may also interact with immunomodulating herbs and supplements.
Astaxanthin may decrease low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation and may interact with other cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, such as red yeast rice. Caution is advised.
This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Ernest B. Hawkins, MS, BSPharm (Health Education Resources); Ashley Brigham, PharmD (Northeastern University); Jessica Clubb, PharmD (Northeastern University); Catherine DeFranco Kirkwood, MPH, CCCJS-MAC (MD Anderson Cancer Center); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Petra Jancar, PharmD (University of Ljubljana); Audrey Nealon, PharmD (Northeastern University); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Toni M. Schaeffer, PhD, PharmD (Albany College of Pharmacy); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Anderson ML. A preliminary investigation of the enzymatic inhibition of 5alpha-reduction and growth of prostatic carcinoma cell line LNCap-FGC by natural astaxanthin and Saw Palmetto lipid extract in vitro. J Herb.Pharmacother. 2005;5(1):17-26.
Bertram JS, Vine AL. Cancer prevention by retinoids and carotenoids: independent action on a common target. Biochim.Biophys.Acta 5-30-2005;1740(2):170-178.
Bloomer RJ, Fry A, Schilling B, et al. Astaxanthin supplementation does not attenuate muscle injury following eccentric exercise in resistance-trained men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2005;15(4):401-412.
Chew BP, Park JS. Carotenoid action on the immune response. J Nutr 2004;134(1):257S-261S.
Comhaire FH, El Garem Y, Mahmoud A, et al. Combined conventional/antioxidant "Astaxanthin" treatment for male infertility: a double blind, randomized trial. Asian J Androl 2005;7(3):257-262.
Coral-Hinostroza GN, Ytrestoyl T, Ruyter B, et al. Plasma appearance of unesterified astaxanthin geometrical E/Z and optical R/S isomers in men given single doses of a mixture of optical 3 and 3'R/S isomers of astaxanthin fatty acyl diesters. Comp Biochem Physiol C.Toxicol Pharmacol 2004;139(1-3):99-110.
Daubrawa F, Sies H, Stahl W. Astaxanthin diminishes gap junctional intercellular communication in primary human fibroblasts. J Nutr 2005;135(11):2507-2511.
Hussein G, Nakamura M, Zhao Q, et al. Antihypertensive and neuroprotective effects of astaxanthin in experimental animals. Biol Pharm Bull 2005;28(1):47-52.
Hussein G, Sankawa U, Goto H, et al. Astaxanthin, a carotenoid with potential in human health and nutrition. J Nat Prod 2006;69(3):443-449.
Lockwood SF, Gross GJ. Disodium disuccinate astaxanthin (Cardax): antioxidant and antiinflammatory cardioprotection. Cardiovasc.Drug Rev 2005;23(3):199-216.
Mason RP, Walter MF, McNulty HP, et al. Rofecoxib increases susceptibility of human LDL and membrane lipids to oxidative damage: a mechanism of cardiotoxicity. J Cardiovasc.Pharmacol 2006;47 Suppl 1:S7-14.
Nir Y, Spiller G, Multz C. Effect of an astaxanthin containing product on carpal tunnel syndrome. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21:489.
Nir Y, Spiller G, Multz C. Effect of an astaxanthin containing product on rheumatoid arthritis. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21:490.
Teo IT, Chui CH, Tang JC, et al. Antiproliferation and induction of cell death of Phaffia rhodozyma (Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous) extract fermented by brewer malt waste on breast cancer cells. Int J Mol Med 2005;16(5):931-936.
Vine AL, Bertram JS. Upregulation of connexin 43 by retinoids but not by non-provitamin A carotenoids requires RARs. Nutr Cancer 2005;52(1):105-113.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.