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What does AHCC do for the body, and should you be taking it? I believe AHCC is one of the most effective supplements for several conditions, including HPV and cancer. Below, I discuss an AHCC supplement and explain what it can do for your body.
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What is AHCC?
AHCC is a proprietary mushroom blend. The supplement is a combination of mushrooms from the Basidiomycete family. The primary parts are the mycelium of the Lentinula edodes, which we know more frequently as the shiitake mushroom. The glucans in these mushrooms are why AHCC is thought to be able to boost the immune system and combat viruses.
These mushrooms help improve your innate immune system, which you’re born with. Much research shows that AHCC can increase natural killer and dendritic cells to fuel your immune system to respond to infections, viruses, and even tumors.
AHCC stands for Active Hexose Correlated Compound.
AHCC supplements are made by culturing the mycelia of the shitake mushroom in an extract of rice bran. Then, the culture is treated with an enzyme that breaks down these mycelia into components like polysaccharides. The mixture is heated at that point, inactivating the enzymes, and the rest of the mycelium is taken from the solution. The solution is concentrated and freeze-dried, resulting in AHCC powder.
Mushrooms have a long history of being used in traditional medicine worldwide.
It’s likely the bioactive polysaccharides in mushrooms that make them health powerhouses.
AHCC and Natural Killer Cells
Our natural killer cells, or NK cells, are large lymphocytes considered our first defense against viral infections and potential malignancies. Natural killer cells have receptors that sense signals from target cells, like a tumorous or infected cell, and then they kill those problematic cells.
When someone has a deficiency of NK cells, or they don’t work correctly, it’s associated with a higher risk of malignancies and infections.
Mushroom products like AHCC can potentially modulate the activity of natural killer cells against tumorous or infected cells.
The immune system plays a vital role in the development of malignancies and their control of them, and your body can become tolerant to tumor cells through varying mechanisms. A lot of research has looked at the benefits of AHCC supplementation as a way to improve NK cell immunity to help control cancers. AHCC works exceptionally well with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.
The effects of AHCC supplements on flu infections have also been studied, showing beneficial results, likely through the impact on NK cells. In one study, mice taking an oral AHCC supplement had improved survival and better lung outcomes when infected with the flu. The mice receiving the AHCC increased their NK cell activity and percentages.
Mushroom supplements like AHCC are also thought to help promote an immune response to tumor cells by affecting T cells’ function. T cells are part of our adaptive immunity and defend us against malignancies and microorganisms. It appears that AHCC can change T cell immunity by activating innate immune cells that can then promote the activation of T cells.
AHCC and Cancer
Above, we introduced some ways that AHCC for cancer can be helpful. AHCC can strengthen your immune response to help your body better fight cancerous cells. In studies, people take AHCC while doing traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, and they’ve improved their overall health and strength and reduced side effects like vomiting.
In studies, people with cancer who supplement with AHCC have been observed to have better quality of life mentally and physically, longer survival rates, and more blood lymphocytes, including B and T cells.
According to research in the International Journal of Immunotherapy, some aspects of AHCC may stop the spread of tumors. For example, in that study, 66% of people with prostate cancer experienced remission, as did 66% of people with ovarian cancer, 50% with multiple myeloma, and 33% with breast cancer.
AHCC and HPV
Studies have looked at the effects of AHCC on HPV, and it’s incredibly promising. A recent study was released in 2022 and published in Frontiers in Oncology. Fifty women with high-risk HPV were enrolled in the study, and 41 completed it.
Nearly 64% of the patients in the arm of the study receiving AHCC supplementation were HPV-negative after six months. More than 64% of those participants received a durable response and were HPV-negative after being off the supplement for six months. Researchers concluded that taking three grams of AHCC once daily supported the immune system in eliminating persistent HPV infections. They also found it was well tolerated, and none of the participants reported any adverse side effects.
Judith Smith, the researcher leading the study, said that the results show that AHCC supplements may help most patients eliminate HPV infections and reduce the long-term risk of cancers related to AHCC.
What Does AHCC Do For the Body?
In general, some of the things that AHCC can do for the body include:
- Anti-cancer effects
- Cancer prevention benefits
- Anti-inflammatory benefits, including chronic inflammation
- Increased resistance to microbial infections
- Reduction of side effects related to chemo
- Proper, balanced immune system function
- Fights HPV infections
- Optimizes the function of the liver
- Helps symptoms of autoimmune disorders because of the regulation of T cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells
- Mediates the body’s response to chronic stress
- Regulation of blood sugar levels
- Reduced blood pressure
- Improves energy levels
- Promotes the production of healthy white blood cells
How to Take AHCC
How you take AHCC is an integral part of maximizing the effects. You should take AHCC on an empty stomach and try to take it at least an hour before you plan to eat. The morning is the best time for most people to take AHCC since they haven’t eaten in hours. You should wait at least two hours after eating to take AHCC.
If you take AHCC with food, your body is trying to digest that food and the supplement simultaneously, so you may not get all of the benefits.
Final Thoughts—What Does AHCC Do For the Body?
AHCC is one of the best supplements for so many reasons, including its ability to clear up HPV infections and also the anti-cancer benefits it has. AHCC is a supplement made from the mycelia of certain mushroom types, and it’s been used in East Asia medicinally for a long time.
Smith, Judith, et al. “AHCC Supplementation to Support Immune Function to Clear Persistent Human Papillomavirus Infections.” Frontiers in Oncology, June 22, 2022. Accessed January 12, 2023.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “AHCC.” July 27, 2022. Accessed January 13, 2023.
Shin, Min Sun. “The Effects of AHCC, a Standardized Extract of Cultured Lentinura edodes Mycelia on Natural Killer and T Cells in Health and Disease: Reviews on Human and Animal Studies.” Journal of Immunology Research, December 20, 2019. Accessed January 13, 2023.