AHCC is likely the most researched immune supplement on the market today. Due to its immune-modulating effect, it has been used throughout the world in hospitals and studied in prestigious research institutions since 1987. But what exactly is AHCC and how does it affect the immune system?
What Is AHCC?
AHCC is often mistaken for a single species of mushroom. However, it is a unique compound that is extracted from the hybridization of various subspecies of mushrooms.
Shiitake mushroom is the most well-known component of AHCC. Shiitake has been a popular staple of Asian cuisine for hundreds of years. Certain chemical compounds found in the mushroom have been studied for their medicinal properties, which explains why shiitake has been referred to as the “elixir of life” in writings of traditional Chinese medicine.
Other ingredients of AHCC include several hybrids of the Basidiomycota phylum family of fungi. Laboratory testing confirmed that the cultured extracts of the mushrooms’ hair-like root structures (mycelia) have antiviral and immune system-enhancing properties (1). AHCC is formulated through a unique manufacturing process, which includes the culturing of mycelia in rice bran.
AHCC & the Immune System
AHCC is a potent immune system modulator. To better appreciate the innate power of this natural substance, let’s take a look at what the immune system is and how it works.
Our immune system consists of a group of tissues, cells, and chemicals that work tirelessly to protect us from various sources of health threats. Most people do not know that our immune system has two main components: the innate (non-specific) immunity and adaptive (specific) immunity. The innate immunity continually runs in the background to keep us safe, regardless of the types of pathogens we are exposed to, while the adaptive immunity fights specific pathogens.
Science has demonstrated that AHCC alters both the innate and adaptive immune response by increasing the production and number of vital immune cells, such as NK cells, cytokines, macrophages, T cells, and dendritic cells (2). AHCC’s ability to enhance our bodies’ natural defenses is truly remarkable, especially when we are under attack from pathogens like bacteria and viruses. Viral infections, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), place an incredible burden on our body. Our immune system plays a key role in combating the infection and protects us from potentially severe consequences. AHCC has shown the ability to boost immune function and assist in long-term suppression of HPV infections.
How Much AHCC Should I Take?
The most commonly recommended dose of AHCC is 3 grams per day. In cancer patients, 3 grams of AHCC once daily has been used with success for up to 12 years. In an HPV study, participants were administered a daily dose of 3 grams with no side effects (3). In order to achieve long-term suppression of the virus, it’s important to continue taking AHCC indefinitely.
- Efficacy and safety of orally administered Lentinula edodes mycelia extract for patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy: a pilot study: National Institutes of Health, 2011.
- Best of Naturopathy: An In-Office Evaluation of Four Dietary Supplements on Natural Killer Cell Activity: Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, 2005.
- An Unexpected Threat to HPV: Texas Medical Center, 2014.