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Home > Health Library > Active Hexose Correlated Compound ( AHCC )
Active Hexose Correlated Compound ( AHCC )
Overview

Active Hexose Correlated Compound is neither a drug nor a medicine. It is a food substance, ---- a dietary supplement rich in polysaccharides and fiber ---- processed from the mycelia of selected mushrooms (basidiocymetes) into a rich nutritive extract. Published research has shown that, in most patients, it can be effective in stimulating and enhancing the natural defense mechanisms of the body. This is important for maintaining a healthy life style as well as a key step in the process of recovering from disease or injury.

AHCC is used extensively for immuno-therapies in hospitals throughout Japan. It appears to be especially effective when administered in conjunction with traditional medical treatments. AHCC is safe and non-toxic. It is often used in combination with chemotherapy treatments in Japan to reduce the adverse side effects of those treatments with positive results observed in many patients. Published research indicates that AHCC stimulates the production of NK cells, killer T-cells, and cytokines (interferon, IL-12, TNF-alpha).

AHCC's effects on the immune system were first recognized in the late 1980's at Tokyo University. The substance had originally been selected for study as a potential agent for the reduction of blood pressure. However, its potential for boosting immune system response was quickly recognized. The first research paper on the subject was published in 1992 addressing the promising observed result of enhanced NK cell activity in cancer patients.

In 1994 the AHCC Research Association was established in Japan as more and more research showed favorable results when AHCC was used as part of a treatment routine for various diseases. The Amino Up Chemical Company now produces AHCC in commercial quantities at its facility in Sapporo, Japan. It is widely available, and its beneficial effects in the treatment of several diseases are being studied at major universities and hospitals in Japan and around the world.

It can be used as a nutritive food supplement in a daily regimen to maintain good health. Published medical case studies also indicate that the substance can boost the immune system and alleviate the effects of specific diseases. The manufacturer recommends a dosage of two capsules daily before a meal as a dietary supplement, and two capsules three times daily before each meal for additional immune system support.

What is AHCC?
AHCC is the acronym for "Active Hexose Correlated Compound." AHCC is clinically proven as an effective immune booster and utilizes an organic blend of medicinal mushrooms including Shitake, all grown in Japan. AHCC has been shown to significantly increase immune response by promoting enhanced macrophage and T-cell activity and maintaining peak Natural Killer (NK) cell function. With published research demonstrating AHCC's ability to increase quality of life parameters for people with health challenges, it is no wonder over 700 hospitals and medical centers worldwide recommend AHCC as part of an ongoing immune enhancement program.

Human clinical research suggests that AHCC may have the following effects on the human immune system function:

Increases NK (natural killer) cell activity
Increase cytokine (IL-2 and IL-12) production
Increase CD4 + helper cells

Benefits & Uses
Infection
In vivo research has shown that AHCC modulates the immune response against a variety of infectious agents, including influenza virus (the common flu), avian influenza virus ("bird flu"), Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria (which causes pneumonia), Candida albicans fungus (which causes yeast infections), Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria (which can infect any part of the body), and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (or MSRA, which causes an antibiotic-resistant staph infection). Most recently, AHCC was found to boost protective immune response specific to the West Nile Virus in mice.

Studies have repeatedly shown that mice treated with AHCC prior to infection with these pathogens experience:
arw Decreased severity of infection
arw Shortened recovery time
arw Increased survival

In fact, one study found that mice pretreated with AHCC before infection with K. pneumoniae had completely cleared the bacteria from their systems by day 6, whereas control mice had increased levels of the bacteria and became extremely sick.

Cancer
AHCC has been used with great success in cancer patients. Data from the treatment of over 100,000 individuals with various types of cancer have shown AHCC treatment to be of benefit in 60% of cases. (Kenner p. 15) AHCC is particularly effective for liver, lung, stomach, colon, breast, thyroid, ovarian, testicular, tongue, kidney and pancreatic cancers. (Kenner p. 15)

One landmark AHCC trial enrolled 269 patients with liver cancer. Following surgery, about half of the patients took AHCC and about half did not. The results were dramatic: At the end of the ten-year study, only 34.5% of the AHCC patients experienced a recurrence in their cancer, compared with 66.1% of the control group. Similarly, while 46.8% of the patients in the control group had died at the end of ten years, less than half that amount 20.4% of those in the AHCC group had. Another study found that AHCC not only prolonged survival of advanced liver cancer patients, it also improved various parameters of quality of life, including mental stability, general physical health status and the ability to have normal activities.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is fraught with side effects, which range from psychologically distressing to life-threatening. In addition to being able to fight cancer directly, AHCC also alleviates many of the side effects of chemotherapy, including:

Hair Loss: Doctors noticed that chemotherapy patients taking AHCC did not lose their hair. Subsequently, an in vivo study found that mice treated with AHCC were protected from chemically induced hair loss.

Nausea: Clinical studies in Korea and Japan have indicated that AHCC remarkably improves symptoms of nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. (Kenner, p. 18)

Bone Marrow Suppression: Chemotherapy can inhibit bone marrow function, which is life-threatening because the body’s key immune soldiers the white blood cells originate in bone marrow. AHCC has been shown to raise the white blood cell count of cancer patients by about 30%. (Kenner, p. 17)


Liver Damage: One of the major drawbacks of chemotherapy is that it kills healthy cells in addition to cancer cells. An in vivo study found that while rats given chemotherapy experienced large increases in liver enzymes (indicative of liver damage), those given chemotherapy plus AHCC had normal levels. (Kenner, p. 17)

Liver Ailments
Dr. Fred Pescatore, of the Center for Integrative and Complementary Medicine in New York, has reported that he has achieved marked reductions in the liver enzymes of hepatitis patients through the use of AHCC. This is an important discovery, as high levels of liver enzymes are indicative of liver damage. Dr. Pescatore has also observed massive drops in the viral loads of hepatitis C patients. One case study, a 47 year-old male, had a viral load of 2,498,200 before treatment, which plunged to 499,600 after six months on AHCC an 80% reduction.

Diabetes
AHCC appears to have several benefits for diabetics. A small human clinical trial conducted in Japan found that all 13 diabetic patients enrolled in the study experienced a significant drop in blood glucose and glycohemoglobin levels after taking AHCC for six months. (Kenner, p. 21) AHCCs blood-sugar lowering effect was also observed in animal research. Diabetes was induced in rats through injection with the chemical streptozotocin (STZ). Among untreated (control) animals, blood glucose levels increased, insulin levels decreased, and insulin-secreting cells were damaged. Among AHCC-treated rats, however, blood glucose levels decreased, insulin levels increased, and there was little damage to insulin-secreting cells.

Cardiovascular Disease
AHCC was first developed as a treatment for hypertension, so it's not surprising that several doctors have reported on its positive impact on cardiovascular health. Dr. Fred Pescatore, of the Center for Integrative and Complementary Medicine in New York, reported that AHCC can prevent stress-induced high blood pressure and damage to the heart. Dr. M. Iwamoto of the En-Zan-Kai Medical Corporation reported that AHCC has a beneficial influence on ventricular arrhythmias, a type of heart disorder in which the heart rhythm is disrupted. (Kenner, p. 21)

Stress
It is widely recognized that stress plays a major role in the etiology of many diseases. When people and animals are under stress, several things happen: the production of stress hormones such as adrenalin and corticosteroids increases, uric acid production increases, and blood sugar rise. A study in rats that had been stressed through immobilization found that AHCC mediated the stress response, keeping levels of stress hormones, uric acid, and blood sugar normal.

Other in vivo studies have shown that as a potent antioxidant, AHCC may also protect against disorders caused by oxidative stress (cellular stress caused by free radicals).

Inflammation
While many people associate inflammation with arthritis, few realize it is one of the underlying contributors to a number of different diseases, from asthma to heart disease to Alzheimer's. In acute situations, such as sickness or injury, inflammation is helpful because it helps the body eliminate pathogens. When inflammation becomes chronic, however, it can destroy healthy tissue. Research shown that AHCC has a profound anti-inflammatory effect.

One study found that AHCC administration attenuated inflammation in rats with colitis (inflammation of the colon) on a level equal to that of the anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine. Another study observed that AHCC protected rats from the damaging effects of peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity). (Kenner, p. 23)

Side Effects:
AHCC is a 100% natural product and classified as a dietary supplement. Based on over 20 published studies and the clinical experience of hundreds of hospitals and tens of thousands of consumers, AHCC is shown to be safe. In the studies in which AHCC was given to people with cancer, no side effects or drug interactions were observed.

References:
arw Ritz BW. Supplementation with active hexose correlated compound increases survival following infectious challenge in mice. Nutr. Rev. 2008 Sep;66(9):526-31.
arw Wang S, et al. Oral Administration of Active Hexose Correlated Compound Enhances Host Resistance to West Nile Encephalitis in Mice. J Nutr. 2009 Jan 13 [Epub ahead of print]
arw Aviles H, et al. Active hexose correlated compound activates immune function to decrease bacterial load in a murine model of intramuscular infection. Am J Surg. 2008 Apr;195(4):537-45.
arw Matsui Y et al. Improved prognosis of postoperative hepatocellular carcinoma patients when treated with functional foods: a cohort study. J Hepatol. 2002 Jul;37(1):78-86
arw Cowawintaweewat S, et al. Prognostic improvement of patients with advanced liver cancer after active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) treatment. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2006 Mar;24(1):33-45.
arw Mukoda SB, et al. Reduction of side affects of anticancer drugs by active hexose correlated compound (AHCC). Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research. 1999 March;40
arw Edman JS, Pescatore F. Medical intelligence: A preliminary report of three cases. Influences of AHCC, a combination mushroom extract, on patients with hepatitis. Anti-Aging Medical News. Fall 2000.
arw Buxiang S, et al. Preventive effects of AHCC on carbon tetrachloride induced liver injury in mice. Natural Medicine. 1997;51(4):310-315.
arw Wakame K. Protective effects of AHCC on the onset of diabetes induced by streptozotocin in the rat. Biomedical Research. 1999;20(3):145-152.
arw Department of Biochemistry, Dokkyo University School of Medicine. AHCC on immobilization stress in the rat: beneficial effects of active hexose correlated compound. Dokkyo Journal of Medical Sciences. 2001;28(1):559-565.
arw She-Fang Y, et al. Amelioration by active hexose correlated compound of endocrine disturbances induced by oxidative stress in the rat. Endocr Regul. 2004 Mar;38(1):7-13.
arw She-Fang Y, et al. Suppressive effects of active hexose correlated compound on the increased activity of hepatic and renal ornithine decarboxylase induced by oxidative stress. Life Sci. 2003 Dec 19;74(5):593-602.
arw Wang S. Preventive effects of active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) on oxidative stress induced by ferric nitrilotriacetate in the rat. Dokkyo Journal of Medical Sciences. 2001;28(2-3):745-752.
arw Daddaoua A, et al. Active hexose correlated compound acts as a prebiotic and is antiinflammatory in rats with hapten-induced colitis. J Nutr. 2007 May;137(5):1222-8.