Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) is a natural substance extracted from Lentinula Edodes, or Shitake mushrooms.
Promoted as an immune booster, AHCC may be able to improve your immune response, reduce inflammation, and even control HPV infections.
While research on AHCC is limited, its supporters claim that the best AHCC supplements can support healthy immune function, tackle inflammation, and much more.
Suppose you’re interested in buying an AHCC supplement, the next big question is “Which brand of AHCC supplement is best?“
As per our research and testing, the best AHCC brands are American BioSciences, Quality of Life, and Source Naturals. These brands have also been endorsed and recommended on the official AHCC website.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the AHCC supplement, its benefits, and answer the most common questions. So, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- About AHCC Supplement
- AHCC Supplement Benefits
- AHCC Supplement Dosage and Side Effects
- Which Brand of AHCC is best?
- What To Look for When Buying AHCC Supplements?
- Best AHCC Supplements: Our Recommendations
- How To Take AHCC Supplements?
- Does AHCC Cause Weight Gain?
- Does AHCC Cure HPV?
About AHCC Supplement
Initially developed by Amino Up Co., LTD. and Dr Toshihiko Okamoto in 1989 in Japan, AHCC is said to stimulate your immune system and defend against viral infections such as flu and the common cold.
Since it was first developed, AHCC has gained popularity as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for immune support, with some proponents recommending the best AHCC supplements for chemotherapy patients.
While it’s doubtful that a supplement derived from Shitake mushrooms (which have been used in traditional medicine for centuries) has miraculous health benefits, it has proven antioxidant effects and could help you stay healthy.
To help you sort the truth from the shitake and decide whether AHCC supplements are suitable for your health needs, let’s discuss the pros and cons of AHCC.
AHCC Supplement Benefits
AHCC advocates claim that this mushroom-based supplement can defend against viral infections, help protect against cancer, and even cure hepatitis, making it sound like the best thing since sliced bread and penicillin, right?
Not necessarily, as there are doubts about the actual efficacy of AHCC since Amino Up Co. funded most of the clinical research reporting its benefits, so even the best AHCC supplements might not be all they’re cracked up to be…
So far, there have been few reliable clinical trials testing the effects of AHCC, though there is a lot of preliminary research – such as test-tube and animal studies – with promising findings.
Although it’s a good idea to take bold claims about AHCC’s health benefits with a pinch of salt, some preliminary findings show that AHCC supplements may offer certain health benefits, including:
Immune System Support
According to one small clinical trial, AHCC supplements may boost immunity! After four weeks of daily AHCC supplements, volunteers showed a significant increase in dendritic cells – a type of cell involved in the immune response – showing that the best AHCC supplements could turbocharge your immune response.
Chemotherapy Side Effects
As terrible as cancer is, chemotherapy can have a wide range of side effects – from hair loss to liver damage – though AHCC may reduce some of these.
In a 2009 animal study, scientists found that treating mice with AHCC helped protect them from chemotherapy-induced bone marrow suppression and liver damage, though we cannot say if it will have the same effects on humans.
Humans have been struggling with the big “C” without a decisive victory for centuries, so could AHCC be the trick to beating those malignant cells? Not exactly.
While a 2018 study found that AHCC limits the proliferation of ovarian cancer cells, it’s far from a miracle cure, and you should only use it in addition to conventional treatments, even if you think you have the best AHCC supplements.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Because of AHCC’s anti-inflammatory effects, it may prove useful in treating – or at least reducing the severity of – inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and colitis.
A 2014 study found that AHCC had therapeutic effects on lymphocyte-driven colitis in mice, suggesting that AHCC may have beneficial inflammatory effects on IBS, though human studies are needed to be sure.
Amino Up Co. promotes AHCC as an immune booster, claiming that the best AHCC supplements “[turn] the dial up on your natural immune response,” but there is little human research to support these claims.
In a 2009 animal study, AHCC appeared to reduce the severity of infection and boost natural killer cell activity – a major factor in immune response – in mice infected with influenza, though the scientists couldn’t definitively prove it.
AHCC Supplement Dosage and Side Effects
Little is known about the long-term safety of AHCC supplements, and some users have reported mild side effects – including stomach upsets, foot cramps, and fatigue – after taking them.
Fortunately, AHCC is generally well-tolerated, and daily doses between 4.5-6g have been used safely for up to 6 months, while lower doses of 3g daily have been safely taken for as long as nine years.
While severe overdoses of AHCC are unheard of, they can cause mild side effects or interfere with prescribed medication (especially those affected by the liver, so you should ask your doctor if AHCC supplements are right for you.
For these reasons, we recommend that you stay within the commonly advised levels of 3-6g per day and search for the best AHCC supplements at these kinds of concentrations.
Which Brand of AHCC is best?
As AHCC is the brand name of a nutritional supplement derived from shitake mushrooms and a registered trademark of Amino Up Co., Ltd, this question is a paradox. Only Amino Up Co. has the right to produce or sell AHCC, making them the only official AHCC brand in the world and the best by default.
Since Amino Up Co., Ltd don’t sell AHCC directly to the public, they supply authentic AHCC® to a range of supplement manufacturers and are eager to state that: “Other products […] claiming to be AHCC® or “generic” versions of AHCC® […] are misbranded and/or adulterated.”
In short, if you ask Amino Up Co. or one of these approved brands, they’re only going to say; “our products are the best AHCC supplements on the market.”
For a list of official AHCC® suppliers, please check the official page.
What To Look for When Buying AHCC Supplements?
It’s never easy to trust big corporations when it comes to their bottom line, so we believe that you should forget ‘official’ AHCC and do your own due diligence when choosing AHCC supplements.
Aside from asking your physician if AHCC is safe to take with your current medications and conditions (if any), there are several recommended practices for finding trustworthy supplements, including:
Compare AHCC and AHCC®
You’d think that since AHCC is derived from Shitake mushrooms, you should find it in shitake supplements, but it isn’t quite that simple, according to Amino Up Co.
Their official website states that AHCC is extracted from the mycelia of shitake, which is cultured on a rice bran base before being sterilized and concentrated.
However, the mycelium almost always contains fewer beneficial compounds than the fruiting body (i.e. stalk and cap) of a mushroom, meaning it is doubtful that a supplement using only the mycelium could be superior.
Still, Amino Up Co. claims that their extraction process creates a much more bioavailable compound with a more powerful immune response. So, let’s just say the science is out on whether the best AHCC supplements are better than the best whole mushroom supplements.
Look for a Supplement Facts Label
This label should include important information about the amount of active ingredients per serving and any other ingredients, such as binders and stabilizers, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Look for a Seal of Approval
When searching for the best AHCC supplements, look for products approved by third-party organizations like NSF Internationa or U.S. Pharmacopeia to ensure they are safely manufactured and contain the ingredients listed on the label.
Best AHCC Supplements: Our Recommendations
With all the AHCC supplements out there – not to mention the confusion over whether unlicensed AHCC supplements could be considered AHCC at all – finding the right supplement is easier said than done.
But by using the tips listed above and our team’s combined years of experience in the supplement biz, we were able to find some grade-A AHCC supplements, and we listed our favorites below:
1. Quality of Life Kinoko Platinum AHCC – Best Overall
Packed with a hefty 750mg of AHCC per capsule (that’s 1.5g higher than the dosages used in human studies!), these supplements are the best way to get a lot of AHCC in your daily routine.
However, the official stamp of approval will set you back a pretty penny, as these supplements retail for around $70 for a bottle of 60 capsules, equalling roughly $1.17 per pill.
2. Source Naturals AHCC Capsules – Affordable Pick
At 500mg of legit AHCC per capsule for roughly $1 each, these supplements are significantly cheaper than the Quality of Life’s offering and well within the advised daily dosage of 3-6g, if you take 1 per day.
However, these capsules are NOT vegan friendly, as they use gelatin for the capsule casing, so great for getting your AHCC on the cheap, not great for that veggie-powered lifestyle.
3. American BioSciences ImmPower – Vegan
Containing 500mg of officially endorsed AHCC per capsule at the slightly higher price of $68 per capsule, these supplements are, gram for gram, worse value for money. However, they are completely vegetarian and officially licensed, making them the best way to add AHCC to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Although not officially endorsed on the official AHCC website, these supplements contain a moderate 375mg of ‘AHCC’ derived from 5 mushroom species per capsule at a much better price point.
While we cannot comment on whether the 5-shroom blend is better than pure shitake, these supplements are less than half the price (at around $50 for 120 capsules or $0.42 per capsule) and seemed to have similar benefits when testing, so we had to include this cheap and cheerful offering as an honorable mention.
How To Take AHCC Supplements?
Like other mushroom-based supplements, you can find AHCC in powder or capsule form, allowing you to add as much powder as you like to your daily routine or take a couple of capsules on the go.
Because there is little functional difference between these forms – assuming the AHCC content is the same – you should pick the most convenient form for you.
However, since there is no official recommended dose of AHCC, nor a recommended daily intake, it can be hard to tell how much you need based on your age, weight, medical conditions, etc.
Therefore, we recommend that you ask your doctor about a suitable dose for your needs when searching for the best AHCC supplements, although lower doses are generally considered safe.
Does AHCC Cause Weight Gain?
There is currently no evidence to suggest that AHCC supplements cause weight gain, as they have minimal calorie content and the active ingredient has no known effects on your metabolism.
While AHCC supplements can cause mild stomach issues (such as bloating and diarrhea), these side effects have no bearing on weight gain and may even cause weight loss in extreme circumstances.
The only conceivable way AHCC could cause weight gain is if it is mixed with filler ingredients or substances known to promote weight gain, such as whey protein in protein powder.
To avoid unwanted weight gain, you should find the best AHCC supplements without any added ingredients and take them as part of an active lifestyle.
Does AHCC Cure HPV?
The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that contributes to an estimated 630,000 new cancer cases across the globe every year, though it often goes away naturally.
While there is no known cure for HPV, a healthy immune system can eradicate the virus, especially when strengthened with natural substances, like AHCC.
In a pilot study at the University of Texas Health Science Center, 10 HPV-positive women took 3g of AHCC daily for 3-6 months, and 5 of them were cured of HPV by the end of the trial.
While they aren’t a definitive cure, taking the best AHCC supplements you can find as part of a healthy lifestyle will help you maintain a healthy immune system and avoid becoming sick with viral infections like HPV.
Whether you believe all the hype about AHCC or think it’s a load of shitake, we hope that this article has taught you something new about the weird and wonderful world of mushroom supplements.