AHCC supplement health benefit and side effects, risks, safety and review, effect on immunity and cancer research
Honest information, 500 mg dosage per capsule or pill
August 16 2019 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Active Hexose-Correlated Compound is a mushroom extract supplement that has been tested for its potential role in the immune system, liver health, cancer treatment and as a biological response modifier. AHCC was developed in Japan in 1989, and most of the studies with this supplement have been conducted in Japan. It is an extract of mycelium, obtained through the long-term cultivation of several types of basidiomycetes medicinal mushrooms including shiitake. After undergoing enzymatic decomposition, concentration, and freeze-drying, AHCC is obtained from the cultured liquid. Active components include glucans and an oligosaccharide. This product is also a mixture of polysaccharides, amino acids, lipids and minerals.

Studies in humans show AHCC supplement:
Has protective effects on the liver in cases of liver injury, cirrhosis, cancer, or hepatitis.
Improves the prognosis in patients with liver cancer however several more studies are needed before determining the role of this supplement as a cancer treatment in humans.
Can enhance certain aspects of the immune system.

Physician Formulas, Inc., AHCC (Activated Hexose Correlated Compound), 500 mg, 60 Capsules
High Quality - buy AHCC supplement, 500 mg per pill
Active Hexose Correlated Compound is considered a superfood supplement in Japan where it has been researched extensively for its immune enhancement properties. According to human and animal research this mushroom extract may increase natural killer cell activity. It may also increase macrophage activity, enhance cytokine production, and support the healthy functioning of the liver as well as act as an antioxidant. Suggested Use, dosage, how much to take: A dose of 1 or 2 AHCC capsules daily on an empty stomach, or as recommended by your health care professional. For general well-being, take 1 capsule a few times a week. Consult your doctor if you plan to use this product for more than one or two months. Unfortunately this is an expensive supplement and not everyone can afford these pills.

Q. Is it okay to take this product as a preventive measure or is it mainly used for specific medical conditions?
   A. Until we learn more, I suggest only taking it for a specific medical use. Also, it is too expensive to take it daily as a preventive.

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Studies in mice show AHCC supplement:
Enhances resistance to infection and natural killer cell activity
Protects the liver from injury induced by toxic or anti cancer agents.
AHCC may have potential as an immune enhancing agent in the therapy of opportunistic infections.
Reduces breast cancer metastasis in mice when combined with chemotherapy agents.
May even have antioxidant properties.
Could reduce side effects of chemotherapy drugs.

Flu vaccine
Supplementation with active hexose correlated compound increases the innate immune response of young mice to primary influenza infection.
J Nutrition. 2006;. Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA,
In this study, young mice were supplemented with 1 gram AHCC / (kilogram body weight x day) for 1 wk prior to and throughout infection with influenza A (H1N1, PR8). Our data suggest that supplementation boosts natural killer activity, improves survival, and reduces the severity of influenza infection in young mice.

Nutr Res. 2013. Short-term supplementation with active hexose correlated compound improves the antibody response to influenza B vaccine.

Cancer of the liver research
Prognostic improvement of patients with advanced liver cancer after active hexose correlated compound treatment.
Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2006.
A prospective study was performed with 44 patients with histologically confirmed liver cancer. Patients in the treated-group had a significantly prolonged survival when compared to the control group. Quality of life in terms of mental stability, general physical health status were improved after 3 months of treatment.

Improved prognosis of postoperative hepatocellular carcinoma patients when treated with functional foods: a prospective cohort study.
J Hepatology 2002.
A total of 269 consecutive patients with histologically confirmed liver cancer were studied. All of the patients underwent resection of a liver tumor. Of the 269 patients, 113 received AHCC orally after undergoing curative surgery. The treatment group had a significantly longer no recurrence period and an increased overall survival rate when compared to the control group. 

Chemotherapy drug combination
The effect of active hexose correlated compound in modulating cytosine arabinoside-induced hair loss, and 6-mercaptopurine- and methotrexate-induced liver injury in rodents.
Cancer Epidemiology. 2009.
Hair loss was caused by cytosine arabinoside and modulation of liver injury was caused by single doses 6-mercaptopurine plus methotrexate. Co-administration of AHCC significantly reduced the side effects associated with arabinoside, 6-mercaptopurine and methotrexate.

Nutr Cancer. 2014. Reduction of adverse effects by a mushroom product, active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) in patients with advanced cancer during chemotherapy--the significance of the levels of HHV-6 DNA in saliva as a surrogate biomarker during chemotherapy.

Alleviating effect of active hexose correlated compound for anticancer drug-induced side effects in non-tumor-bearing mice.
J Exp Ther Oncology. Amino Up Chemical Co., Ltd., Shin-ei, Kiyota, Sapporo, Japan.
The role in alleviating the side effects induced by several other anticancer drugs was explored in non-tumor-bearing mice receiving monotherapy with paclitaxel, or multi-drug chemotherapy with paclitaxel plus cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil (5FU) plus irinotecan, cisplatin plus 5FU, or doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide. The death rate was 20 to 30 percent in all treatment groups except paclitaxel + cisplatin, and supplementation with AHCC greatly reduced or eliminated mortality. AHCC can be beneficial for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

I've been taking AHCC pills for approximately 1 month now. In addition, I'm on the chemo drug Xeloda and the drip Avastin. Have developed several fatty tissue lumps that my doctor assures me is not cancer. Could it be a reaction to the this mushroom product? Do you know of any conflicts with this supplement while undergoing chemo?
   We have not had feedback thus far that it is involved in fatty acid formation, then again there is still a lot to be learned about natural supplements and their full positive and negative effects. There are so many drug combinations and interactions and it is very difficult to know what interactions AHCC may have with chemotherapy drugs, it would take many studies for prolonged periods.

Can AHCC be used with the chemo drug Abraxane? If you know of any studies showing that the it doesn't counter act Abraxane chemo I would appreciate it.
   I am not aware of any such studies as of 2018.

Immune system in healthy volunteers
Immunological effect of active hexose correlated compound in healthy volunteers: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Nutr Cancer. 2008.
Twenty-one healthy volunteers were randomized to receive placebo or AHCC at 3 g/day for 4 weeks. The treatment group had a significantly higher number of total dendritic cells compared to that at baseline and values from control subjects. No significant differences in PHA, NK cell activity, and cytokine production were found between groups.

Results of a National Space Biomedical Research Institute study conducted at Morehouse School of Medicine suggest that oral administration of Active Hexose Correlated Compound can increase resistance to infection. The samples of this product used in this study were provided by Quality of Life Labs, Purchase, New York. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) partially supported this work. “Active Hexose Correlated Compound Enhances Resistance to Klebsiella pneumoniae: Infection in Mice in the Hindlimb-Unloading Model of Space Flight Conditions,” 2003, Journal of Applied Physiology.

I just love your website because it's full of honest information. Is it okay for a person with low grade B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Sjogren's syndrome to take the AHCC supplement? This person also has low WBC count and she is taking 5 mg of Prednisone every day. I also want to mention that this individual underwent the Rituxan treatment once a week for 4 weeks but her WBC count is still low (2.0).
    It is difficult to predict how an individual's immune system will respond to AHCC use, particularly if prednisone, an immune system suppressant, is used.

Active hexose correlated compound enhances tumor surveillance through regulating both innate and adaptive immune responses.
Cancer Immunol Immunotherapy. 2006.
Mice were orally administered AHCC or water, followed by tumor cell inoculation. Compared to pure water-treated mice, the natural supplement treatment significantly delayed tumor development after inoculation of either melanoma cell line B16F0 or lymphoma cell line EL4.

Pancreatic cancer
There is some early research supporting its use in pancreatic cancer.

Nutr Cancer. 2016. Alleviating Effect of Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) on Chemotherapy-Related Adverse Events in Patients with Unresectable Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma. The patients in the AHCC group ingested 6.0 g of AHCC for 2 months. Hematological and nonhematological toxicity was compared between the AHCC and control groups. The C-reactive protein (CRP) elevation and albumin decline of the AHCC group were significantly suppressed as compared to the control group during the gemcitabine treatment administration. AHCC intake can be effective in reducing the adverse events associated with chemotherapy and may contribute to maintaining the quality of life of patients with Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma during gemcitabine administration.

Prostate cancer
We have not seen research studies with prostate cancer and AHCC so we don't know if it is effective.

Dosage and dose
Many of the studies in humans have used dosages of AHCC supplement of about 3 grams a day. The ideal dosage for cancer prevention or treatment or other conditions for long term use is still being evaluated.

Side effects, risk, safety, adverse events, danger, caution
I have not come across major AHCC side effects reported in medical journals as of 2018.

Drug, medication interactions
Integr Cancer Ther. 2017. Evaluation of Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) in Combination With Anticancer Hormones in Orthotopic Breast Cancer Models. To determine the impact on antitumor activity when active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) in combination with anticancer hormonal agents in orthotopic mouse models of human estrogen receptor positive breast cancer and evaluate impact of AHCC on aromatase activity. AHCC did not change the activity of tamoxifen. It may have some interaction with letrozole in patients with COMT variant genotype. AHCC had cytotoxicity that warrents additional studies to evaluate its potential role for consolidation/prevention of breast cancer.

Q. My questions is the interaction of AHCC while taking Atenolol 25mg, blood pressure medication. Per one clinical paper discussing AHCC, it says: AHCC did not inhibit CYP450 activity in one study; however, AHCC is a substrate and inducer of CYP450 2D6. Based on this study, it has the potential for drug-drug interactions involving agents metabolized via CYP450 2D6 (eg, doxorubicin, ondansetron). Adverse drug reactions may potentially occur in patients taking psychiatric medications from the following drug classes: tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or antipsychotics. Also monitor patients taking pain medications (eg, tramadol) and blood pressure medications, including beta-blockers, for potential adverse reactions.Can you tell me how I would be affected while taking the AHCC, 4 pills a day, with my medication. I am 70 years old female survivor of HER2 breast cancer. Surgery done in 2002.
   A. I am not aware of a specific study evaluating the interactions between AHCC and beta blockers.

Summary and review, recommendations
More research with AHCC and cancer is needed before making any firm recommendations on effectiveness, dosage, frequency and length of use, interactions with radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and the conditions for which this interesting compound can be useful. Thus far much of the AHCC and cancer research looks promising but few have been done in humans.

Suppliers and manufacturers
There are various forms of this supplement, Immpower and Kinoko AHCC. Which form is best?
   There are several products available, including ImmPower made by American Biosciences. According to the manufacturer, ImmPower is Active Hexose Correlated Compound developed by combining several species of mushrooms used in traditional Japanese healing to make one, extremely powerful, hybridized mushroom. This hybridized mushroom is grown in a liquid medium containing rice bran and enzymatically modified to be readily absorbable.  Kinoko AHCC is made by Quality of Life Labs. Several other companies private label it including Source Naturals and NOW Foods. It appears, to the best of my knowledge, that all brands use the same raw material, the only things that may differ are amounts and what they may or may not combine it with. AHCC is a trademarked product and everyone who sells it buys from the same raw material supplier.

Q. I would like to ask your expertise with regards to the use of AHCC and Collagen supplements when someone has Hashimoto's and Reynaud's. I have both for about 30 years. Would either cause the immune system to go in overdrive and have negative impacts? I read an article from you regarding echinacea herb and I understood your findings did not show a negative impact with those studies. I have taken it before and have never had any negative impact. I very much understand everyone is different so no study or findings are absolute. I don't take any medications except for my thyroid medication. I do take a number of vitamins and have for years. When not well I take homeopathic medications, herbs and do Accupuncture. I very much appreciate your insight as I know others with autoimmune diseases and they would be interested in your opinion regarding my query about AHCC more importantly but also for Collagen.
   A. There just aren't enough studies on these topics and interactions to have an opinion with any amount of certainty.

I recently become quite interested in medicinal mushrooms. In my early studies of natural medicine I often learned things from your website. I have been reading about AHCC as a promising adjunct to cancer therapy. When I checked your site, I noticed a lot of interest from your readers. One thing I did was to check several chemotherapy drugs to see if they shared the same metabolic pathway as the one used by AHCC. So far, I have found none. However, Benadryl, which may be used to prevent an allergic reaction... does it share the same pathway? I wonder if you might comment on any problems or precautions your readers might consider if you think this may be necessary.
   A. I have not seen any studies that Benadryl would help or hinder the use of this natural product.