Preliminary testing shows that a shiitake mushroom extract shows promise in curing HPV.

An early, pre-clinical trial has shown that Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC), an extract from shiitake mushrooms, can kill the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S.

A study by Dr. Judith A. Smith, Pharm.D., an associate professor in the department of gynecologic oncology and reproductive medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, also discovered that AHCC lowered the rate of ovarian tumor growth.

The research was presented at the Society of Gynecological Oncology’s recent meeting in Tampa, Florida.

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For the study, Smith treated cervical cancer cells with AHCC and incubated them for 72 hours, sampling them every 24 hours. She also gave doses of AHCC to mice that were positive and negative for HPV.

The mice with HPV were cured after receiving a daily dose of AHCC for 90 days, and the virus did not return for 30 days after treatment stopped. Smith repeated the experiment to verify her findings, examining immune markers to pinpoint how AHCC gets rid of HPV.

Human and animal studies have shown that AHCC boosts the number and activity of natural killer cells called dendritic cells and cytokines. Smith said that these cells allow the body to respond to infections and block tumor growth.

Smith’s research shows that AHCC can not only get rid of HPV—it may also help prevent HPV-related cancers. She is currently conducting another study on women with HPV to see how long the treatment should continue in order to produce effective results.

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AHCC is a natural nutritional supplement that has been in use for decades, Smith said. It is currently used in combination with other nutritional ingredients in supplement products to boost immunity. The compound is derived from a part of the shiitake mushroom.

AHCC has been used in more than 1,000 medical clinics and hospitals worldwide, Smith said. Two recent human clinical studies have shown that AHCC taken in conjunction with the flu shot increased antibody titers more than the vaccine alone in healthy adults.

Smith said that the experiment was a success, but that more trials are needed to see if it’s truly effective and can cure the condition in humans. She said that AHCC does not produce the side effects found in other HPV therapies.

The compound is being used and is on the market, but it remains unclear what doses are most effective for treating HPV.

“Formal dose finding studies have not been completed yet, but based on my experience with nutritional supplements, we cannot assume more is better,” Smith said.

She says she recommends that patients talk to their doctors before using any nutritional supplements, but that it is likely a good idea to take AHCC to support your immune health.

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