AHCC: Benefits and Safety

Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) is an extract manufactured in Japan from shiitake mushrooms.

Molecules in AHCC may help protect against infection and cancer by regulating the immune system. Specifically, AHCC has been shown to increase the number or activity of natural killer and T cells, vital to the immune system’s defense.

AHCC has been studied for its role in the following conditions:

Here’s what you need to know about the potential health benefits and risks of AHCC.

AHCC Supplement Facts

  • Active Ingredients: Alpha-glucans, polysaccharides, amino acids, lipids, and minerals
  • Alternate Names: Active hexose correlated complex
  • Legal Status: Over-the-counter supplement in the U.S.
  • Suggested Dose: 1 to 3 grams a day
  • Safety Considerations: Not recommended during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or in children due to a lack of safety data.

Uses of AHCC

A healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN), pharmacist, or healthcare provider, should individualize and vet all supplement use. No supplement’s intended purpose is to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Preclinical trials (using cells in test tubes or animal models) have studied AHCC’s effects on viruses like the flu and the West Nile virus and cancers like melanoma.

Though AHCC was beneficial in animal models for these conditions, there’s no guarantee that it would help humans.

Clinical trials are certainly necessary before AHCC can be suggested for these conditions.

Though more data is still necessary, AHCC has been studied in clinical trials for things like cancer, liver disease, and HPV.

Here’s the latest research on its effects.

Young female taking supplements at home.

LeoPatrizi / Getty Images


AHCC can help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy medications and improve the quality of life for people with advanced cancer.

For instance, supplementing with AHCC lowered the side effects of the medicine gemcitabine in people with pancreatic cancer.

It’s also been studied as an add-on treatment for people with liver cancer who have had part of their liver removed (also called hepatectomy or liver resection).

In a very small study of 29 people, taking AHCC for up to two years was associated with a decreased risk of cancer recurrence.


AHCC may boost the immune system—but more research is necessary.

A small study of 34 healthy adults showed that supplementing with AHCC can offset the seasonal dip in immunity that typically occurs during winter.

People who used AHCC had better immune system function during the early winter than those who took a placebo (sugar pill).

Those who supplemented with AHCC did not have a decline in natural killer cells. However, those who took a placebo (sugar pill) had lower numbers of natural killer cells and lower immune system function.

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

AHCC was studied in a clinical trial of 69 adults with alcohol-related liver disease at two different dosages.

Both dosages improved liver enzyme levels and decreased markers of inflammation.

That the people in the trial had only mildly increased liver enzymes was notable. More data is necessary to determine if people with more significant diseases would benefit from AHCC as well.

Human Papillomavirus

A small study was conducted in 41 females with persistent high-risk HPV infections. These high-risk HPV strains are often associated with cancer.

The study showed that taking AHCC daily for at least six months effectively treated nearly 60% of those who used it. In contrast, HPV infections were eliminated in only 10% of those who took a placebo.

It’s not recommended to take AHCC in place of standard HPV treatment.


Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

The recommended dosage of AHCC may vary depending on the purpose of its use. Daily doses are typically between 1 and 3 grams.

Some doses used in clinical trials include the following:

  • 1 gram a day for immune system support
  • 1–3 grams a day for alcohol-induced increased liver enzymes
  • 3 grams a day for liver cancer
  • 3 grams a day for HPV
  • 6 grams a day for pancreatic cancer

Safety of AHCC

Avoid AHCC if you’re allergic to it or its components. Individuals with mushroom allergies should proceed with caution when taking AHCC.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have a severe allergic reaction (itching, hives, shortness of breath).

Side Effects

Consuming a supplement like AHCC may have potential side effects. These side effects may be common and mild or less common and severe. 

There is very little safety data on AHCC, but so far, there haven’t been many side effects reported.

One clinical trial reported similar side effect rates for AHCC and placebo. These adverse effects included:


AHCC may interact with the following medications:

  • Femara (letrozole), a medicine for breast cancer. AHCC decreased the effectiveness of Femara in a mouse model.
  • Drugs broken down by a specific liver enzyme in the body, cytochrome P450 2D6. This enzyme also processes certain medicines, like the cancer drug Adriamycin (doxorubicin), the steroid Decadron (dexamethasone), some antidepressants, and some medicines for nausea. The levels of these medicines may change if taken with AHCC, though more information is necessary to know this for sure.

Carefully reading a supplement’s ingredients list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included is essential. Please review the supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.


Keep the following precautions in mind when using AHCC:

  • Allergy: Mushroom-based products like AHCC may cause hypersensitivity reactions.
  • Pregnancy: AHCC is not recommended during pregnancy because there’s not enough data to know whether it’s safe. During pregnancy, discussing any supplement you want to try with your healthcare provider before adding it to your regimen is best.
  • Breastfeeding: AHCC is not recommended during breastfeeding because there’s not enough data to know if it’s safe. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to discuss any supplement you want to try with your healthcare provider before adding it to your regimen.
  • Children: To date, AHCC hasn’t been studied in children, so it’s not recommended. Discuss using any supplement with your child’s pediatrician to be safe.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements the way it regulates prescription drugs. That means some supplement products may not contain what the label says.

When choosing a supplement, look for third-party tested products and consult a healthcare provider, registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN), or pharmacist.


AHCC is an extract made from mushrooms that may boost immunity. It’s been studied in humans for cancer, HPV, and liver disease. Small studies show benefits, but more extensive clinical trials are needed before AHCC can be routinely recommended.

AHCC has few reported side effects, but it can interact with cancer medications and other drugs that the liver breaks down.

Because there haven’t been many clinical trials, whether AHCC is safe for children or during pregnancy or breastfeeding remains unclear.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is AHCC?

    Active hexose correlated compound, or AHCC, is an extract made from shiitake mushrooms. It has been studied for its role in regulating the immune system.

  • How fast does AHCC work?

    AHCC effectively boosted the immune system after four weeks, according to a small trial of 36 adults.

    And it suppressed HPV infections after three to six months, according to a small study of 41 females.

  • Is AHCC good for HPV?

    In a small study, AHCC cleared persistent HPV in almost 60% of the females who took it. More robust clinical trials are necessary to verify this effect.


Next Post

At-Home Injections and Treatments: Are They Safe?

Wed Dec 20 , 2023
Ever since the pandemic, people have begun to realize just how much they can get done without ever leaving the house. At the time, the beauty industry pivoted and quickly made at-home treatments a main focus in almost every category. Nail technicians made house calls for manicures and pedicures, and […]
At-Home Injections and Treatments: Are They Safe?

You May Like