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There is extensive research behind AHCC, from cancer trials to diabetes support. Read about the studies that have promoted AHCC as a leading extract for immunity.

AHCC: What the Research Says

 The mushroom-derived extract, AHCC, is praised for its abundant wellness benefits. Over the years, it has accumulated an impressive amount of clinical research to examine its role in human health. The data on AHCC strongly reflects its ability to enhance the immune system and promote a better quality of life. From cancer patients to diabetics, the findings of AHCC clinical studies consistently report improvements in people’s health and well-being.

Background

AHCC was discovered in Japan by Dr. Toshihiko Okoamoto and the Amino Up Chemical Co., LTD. in 1981.  AHCC originates from the shiitake mushroom, which is native to Japan. It includes other derivatives of the species Basidiomycetes. The active compounds in AHCC are beta and alpha-glucans, which are known to improve cholesterol levels and promote heart health. In fact, AHCC was introduced to the medical market as a solution for high blood pressure. Since then, research has focused on how AHCC affects the immune system. 

An Immune System Primer

When it comes to wellness concerns, a healthy immune system is a driving factor of health. The immune system is our body’s defense response. Its job is to protect you from harm. It does this by scanning for pathogens that have made their way into your body and could disrupt healthy functions. Pathogens include bacteria, viruses, toxins, parasites, and other foreign bodies that can cause harm. The immune system also looks to see if any of our cells have mutated and become abnormal. 

Our immune system can be divided into two categories: Innate and adaptive. 

Innate immunity: Reacts immediately to any threat in a generalized manner. It attacks all types of threats with nonspecific defense mechanisms to get a head start on the fight.

Adaptive immunity: Does not react immediately but analyzes the specific threat and responds in a precise manner to defend against a particular microbe. 

There are a variety of unique immune cells that carry out specific jobs in both our innate and adaptive immune systems. 

Cells that support innate immunity function: 

  • Cytokines: Chemical messengers that coordinators immune response, communicating information between immune cells.
  • Natural killer (NK) cells: White blood cells responsible for destroying infected or mutated cells.
  • Macrophages: White blood cells that “eat” bacteria and other foreign cellular matter.
  • Dendritic cells: White blood cells that hand over pathogens to B and T cells.

Cells that support the adaptive immune function:

  • B and T cells: White blood cells called lymphocytes that recognize past invaders and eliminate them with a learned response. B cells mature in the bone marrow. T cells mature in the thymus.

 

AHCC and Innate Immune Response

The innate immune system is made up of a network of white blood cells that communicate with each other and expel foreign entities from the body.

In vivo and human clinical trials have shown that AHCC can support the innate immune response through several mechanisms. 

  • Increases the production of cytokines
  • Increases the action of NK cells 
  • Increases the creation of macrophages
  • Increases the population of dendritic cells. 

AHCC and Adaptive Immune Response

The adaptive immune response is made up of a network of cells known as T cells and B cells.   During in vitro and clinical studies, AHCC was shown to support the adaptive immune response by increasing T cells’ production. 

The Research

As the world’s most researched extract for immune system health, AHCC has been the subject of over 30 unique pre-clinical and clinical studies. These studies have looked at AHCC’s effects on everything from cancer outcomes, severity and frequency of HPV infections, immune response in healthy and compromised patients, liver disease and more. 

AHCC has been administered to patients in over 1,000 healthcare facilities. Healthy patients, as well as patients that are immune-compromised, have reaped the benefits of AHCC.  

 Pre-Clinical and In Vitro Studies

Infection

The human body is highly susceptible to infection during and after surgery. Healing a surgical wound is strenuous to our immune system since it is working simultaneously to repair damaged cells while eliminating pathogens that may have entered the body during the procedure and through the incision site during recovery.  

A 2006 study published in the journal Surgical Infections showed AHCC exhibited a strong immune response in mice that were given simulated surgical wound infections. The mice that were given AHCC before and during the procedure had significantly higher survival and recovery rate when compared to the group of mice that did not receive AHCC. The findings strongly suggest AHCC had a significantly positive effect on the immune response. 

The correlation between AHCC and infection recovery is important to consider in the context of humans undergoing surgery. Compounds like AHCC can help diminish the possible complications of surgical infections and promote better recovery

Inflammation

 Inflammation in humans is commonly linked to injury, arthritis, and bowel diseases. It is an immune response that helps expel pathogens from the body. Cytokines are immune response messengers that can be anti-inflammatory, meaning they work to reduce inflammation and heal an infection. However, there are also proinflammatory cytokines, which promote excessive inflammation in some cases, which can become chronic. 

The Journal of Nutrition published a study that administered AHCC to rats with colitis, inflammation of the bowel. The efficacy of AHCC was reflected in the examination of gut bacteria. It was found that levels of good gut bacteria were increased and clostridia, a bacteria responsible for food poisoning and inflammation, had diminished. 

Treating inflammation is crucial because, in the long term, chronic inflammation can chip away at healthy tissue. Diseases such as arthritis become degenerative over time. Using extracts like AHCC can help produce those anti-inflammatory cytokines to relieve inflammation, pain and promote longevity. 

Diabetes

Diabetes is becoming overwhelmingly common in America. Diabetes affects a person’s ability to create or use insulin, which is responsible for ultimately helping cells use glucose from the bloodstream for energy. Type 1 Diabetes is often diagnosed when a person is young and is known as an immune disorder that attacks the pancreas, the organ responsible for creating insulin. Type 2 is typically diagnosed later in life and is commonly brought on by poor diet and being overweight, and is associated with insulin resistance versus inability to produce insulin. 

In an experiment published by Biomedical Research, Koji Wakame examined the effects of AHCC on rats with diabetes. As the rats showed signs of diabetes such as decreased insulin levels, high blood glucose, and weight loss, Wakame administered AHCC in their drinking water. Wakame observed that blood sugar returned to normal, and insulin levels were restored. 

Without treatment, the lack of blood glucose absorption was causing high blood sugar, which can cause damage to major internal organs. Diabetics must take insulin to avoid fatal consequences, and AHCC may assist in helping to lower and control blood sugar.

 Clinical and In Vivo Studies

Cancer

Cancer is one of the most widely researched diseases in the world. This mutational cell disease can destroy the immune system and cause tumors. Cancer patients commonly undergo surgery, transfusions, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. 

Research conducted on groups with various forms of cancer has concluded AHCC increases the quality of life during and after recovery from surgeries and chemotherapy. A study on 269 patients with liver cancer concluded that the control group, those who did not take AHCC after major surgery, had a lower survival rate and higher relapse rate than those administered AHCC. It was also recorded that patients who took AHCC, we’re generally of better health and able to live more fulfilling lives down the line. 

AHCC has also been administered to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. It has been known to lessen chemo’s side effects such as hair loss, nausea, loss of bone marrow, and liver damage. It’s been observed that patients who receive chemo and take AHCC experience little to no hair loss. In some cases, AHCC can even subside nausea. Since chemotherapy kills healthy cells, it jeopardizes the body’s white blood cells, and AHCC supports them through and through.

 Liver

The liver is the body’s filtration system; it also metabolizes foods and secretes proteins. The liver is responsible for filtering the toxins of the blood. However, the liver can become injured either by hereditary ailments, hepatitis-C, and poor lifestyle choices. Hep-C is a virus that is transferred intravenously, which causes damage to the liver.

In a study done by the Department of Medicine at the Phramongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, an experiment was conducted on patients with Chronic Hepatitis-C. It was found that the group which was administered AHCC experienced lower levels of liver enzymes. High levels of these enzymes incite liver damage. Therefore, the patients were able to get a better handle on their illness before more damage occurred.

Heart and Stress

There are many factors that can affect the heart: high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, not enough physical activity, diet, etc. A large oversight is that high stress can be a precursor to cardiovascular problems. Stress can also weaken the immune system. The original release of AHCC was as a treatment for high blood pressure. Treating high blood pressure is important because it can otherwise lead to damage to the heart and blood vessels.

Conclusion

AHCC is not a cure for any ailment, but it can undoubtedly alleviate symptoms and work to improve some of the most serious conditions we currently face. 

AHCC has become a leading extract in immunotherapy, and will continue to be pridefully and extensively researched.