This information describes the common uses of AHCC, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Active Hexose Correlated Compound

How It Works

AHCC has immunomodulatory and anticancer effects. But large human studies are lacking.

Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) is an extract of mushrooms from the Basidiomycete class, including shiitake mushrooms. This product contains polysaccharides called glucans, which scientists think are responsible for its biological activity.  One study showed that it could enhance the activity of natural killer cells (a type of immune cell) in the test tube. Animal studies suggest that AHCC has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and can improve the response of the immune system in mice with chemotherapy-weakened immune systems. In humans, AHCC has been shown to improve liver function in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and cirrhosis and reduce the levels of certain tumor markers in the blood.

Purported Uses

To prevent and treat cancer
Laboratory studies show some anti-cancer activity, but these results are not especially strong. One human study supported the use of AHCC in patients undergoing surgical resection of hepatocellular carcinoma, but this study had design flaws and much more research is needed.
Another study found AHCC to be an ineffective treatment for early stage prostate cancer.

Do Not Take If

  • You are taking drugs that are substrates of Cytochrome P450 2D6 (AHCC can decrease the effects of such drugs).

Side Effects

  • Diarrhea and itching have been reported in patients following administration of AHCC.