Is It Safe to Take an AHCC Supplement?

Shiitake Mushrooms

People are commonly taking more proactive measures when it comes to their health, particularly their immune system, which plays an essential role in keeping you healthy. There are hundreds of different types of vitamins and supplements available to give you an extra boost in protecting yourself from getting sick. There are many ways to ensure you have a strong immune system, including eating healthy, exercising appropriately, and taking supplements. Supplements can be beneficial, but it’s important to do your research and only take supplements that are FDA approved and to avoid supplements that may have serious side effects. One of the newest popular supplements is AHCC (active hexose correlated compound) and since most people wonder about the safety and side effects of new products, to help you decide for yourself about AHCC, here are the possible benefits and side effects you should be aware of.

What is Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC)?

AHCC is a natural substance that is extracted from a certain species of mushrooms, such as shiitake. AHCC is thought to act as an antioxidant that works similar to how certain fruits work as a natural antioxidant. Although AHCC supplements are considered an alternative form of medicine, it has been shown to help the body defend and recover against various viruses, such as the common cold and influenza. 

Possible Benefits of AHCC

In the field of alternative medicine, active hexose correlated compound is thought to be beneficial for stimulating your immune system and increasing your body’s defense against viral infections, such as the common cold and the flu. Some other benefits may include:

  • Immune system-AHCC may be beneficial for boosting your immunity, specifically through increasing the number of dendritic cells, which are cells involved in your body’s immunity response. 
  • Chemotherapy side effects-AHCC may help in reducing various side effects of chemotherapy, such as reducing liver damage and bone marrow suppression that is often associated with chemotherapy.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease-The supplement may provide an anti-inflammatory effect associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Cancer-AHCC may help to inhibit the growth of ovarian cancer cells and may provide therapeutic benefits for other types of cancer as well.

Side-Effects & Safety of AHCC

AHCC is fairly new, so there aren’t enough studies to definitely show the supplement as being holistically therapeutic; however, some studies have shown both benefits and side effects with use. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, so everyone will react differently to the supplement. Just like with any other vitamin or supplement, before taking you should talk with your medical professional to ensure it is safe for you to take. Your medical provider will be able to alert you of any prescription medications you are taking that may interfere with AHCC and address any concerns they may have about any medical conditions that may increase the risk of AHCC side effects. Some side effects may include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems-One of the most common side effects associated with AHCC is gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating, diarrhea, and nausea. These problems tend to resolve themselves within about 24-hours after onset. 
  • Headache-Some people have complained of mild to moderate headaches when they first begin taking AHCC supplements. The headaches tend to be mild and subside in a relatively short period of time.
  • Fatigue-Low energy and fatigue have also been associated with the use of AHCC supplements. If you are experiencing fatigue, it may be related to either a reduced immunity system or the ingredients found in AHCC, so it’s important to talk with your medical provider before continuing use.
  • Foot cramps-Cramping, especially in the feet was the most common complaint of AHCC test subjects. 
  • Medication interactions-Some medications can have a significant, potentially serious interaction with AHCC. The supplement should be avoided if you are taking medications, such as Elavil, codeine, Norpramin, Haldol, Lopressor, Toprol XL, Zofran, Risperdal, Ultram, and/or Effexor. AHCC may also decrease the effects of immunosuppressants because the supplement is used to increase immune function.
  • Those with autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and systemic lupus erythematosus should avoid taking AHCC supplements as it may cause symptoms to be exacerbated. There also isn’t enough research to demonstrate the safety of use by pregnant and breastfeeding women and children, so they should avoid taking it.
  • Fever-Some people have reported an elevated body temperature after daily use of the supplement AHCC

There is no specific recommended dose of AHCC, but doses in a daily dose of 4-6 grams daily have been safely used for a period of six months and a smaller dose of 3 grams has been safely used for a period of nine years. The appropriate dose for individual use depends on a variety of factors, such as gender, age, and current medical condition. Remember self-treating a chronic condition with supplements, including AHCC may have serious consequences, so it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before taking. Always buy AHCC from a reliable source and make sure to read the label to ensure ingredients meet the requirements of the National Institute of Health. If you do experience long-lasting and/or serious side effects resulting from the use of AHCC, contact the office of Strong Law to learn more information about your rights regarding side effects resulting from the use of AHCC.