Health and Nutrition Articles

AHCC: The Power Inside Mushrooms

Why Mushrooms Might Give You a "Killer" Immune System

One of the most promising things about AHCC is its potential to fight cancer. The possibilities have many hopeful that cancer patients will get help from this natural source while improving their quality of life.

AHCC comes from mushrooms like the shiitake and Reishi. The mycelia, which is the vegetative root base of the mushroom, is used to create a chemical compound that's rich in alpha-glucan.

Shiitake mushrooms have been used for health in Asia for a long time. In fact, the Chinese have used it as a medicine for more than 6,000 years. But only recently did Japanese health experts uncover what might be its greatest strength.

AHCC was mostly being used in patients with high blood pressure. Then researchers at Tokyo University noticed something. They discovered that AHCC was boosting the immune system strength of cancer patients.

It seems this compound can activate white blood cells - especially so-called natural killer cells (NK Cells). AHCC also enhanced the effects of killer t-cells and cytokines.

What are Natural Killer Cells?

NK cells are considered a crucial component of the innate immune system, which is your body's first line of defense against infection. Part of the innate immune system's job is identifying foreign substances in organs, tissue and blood, and then removing them from the body with white blood cells.

NK cells may also play a role in the adaptive immune system, which works to eliminate and prevent the growth of pathogens in your body.

Natural killer cells could be extremely important to people who are fighting cancer because they have been shown to cause the death of tumor cells. Some clinical trials indicate AHCC increases NK cell activity by as much as 300-800%.

In addition to boosting the response of natural killer cells, AHCC has been shown to increase production of cytokines - which act as immune system messengers and help coordinate a response.

AHCC could increase a patient's T-Cell count by 200%, and it may also double the body's population of macrophages - which are white blood cells that engulf and break down bacteria and cellular debris.

Other Possible AHCC Benefits

Plenty of research is still being done to determine just how effective AHCC might be and what it can do for human health. More information is needed to understand exactly how it works.

However, since it certainly appears that AHCC has an impact on the immune system, its value could extend to a number of illnesses.

For instance, new findings indicate AHCC might help prevent the common cold and the common flu (influenza). Other more serious sicknesses such as Avian Flu and the West Nile Virus may also be affected by AHCC.

Some studies suggest it could help prevent diabetes. AHCC's blood-sugar lowering effect has been noted in both human and animal trials.

Besides possibly fighting cancer, AHCC has also been shown to provide relief from side effects that occur during chemotherapy. Some patients who took AHCC while undergoing chemo treatments did not have hair loss. Studies in Japan show a notable improvement in nausea. It could even prevent liver damage cause by chemotherapy.

The liver is yet another part of the body that may receive protective benefits from AHCC. That has made it a potentially helpful supplement for people with hepatitis, as it reduces liver enzymes, which is a sign of damage to the organ.

Heart health, stress relief and reduction of inflammation are also factors that AHCC could address.

Quick Facts

  • Full name - Active Hexose Correlated Compound
  • It is a nutritional supplement derived from the mycelia of shiitake and other mushrooms
  • AHCC was first used to lower high blood pressure
  • AHCC may boost the immune system and increase natural killer cell activity (NK cells) in cancer patients
  • It may also protect the liver from certain toxic chemicals and help prevent diabetes
  • AHCC has been studied for safety in human trials - including studies involving conventional chemotherapy