How does AHCC® support immune function?
The medicinal magic of AHCC® can be attributed to the compound’s ability to modify the immune system. AHCC® is said to boost, dampen, or maintain immune response depending on an individual’s physiological state.
To understand how AHCC® creates this response, we must first understand how the immune system works.
What Is The Immune System?
The immune system is essential for our survival. The system includes several organs and molecules that work together to respond to potential invaders, pathogens, injuries, and protects against cancer cell growth. We rely on the system being in a delicate balance to operate at its best protective abilities. To help maintain this balance, medicinal mushrooms, and their components like AHCC®, are a supportive sidekick.
The human immune system can be generally divided into two parts: the innate and adaptive immune system. The word innate means natural or inborn – this system is our basic first line of defense. It includes our physical barriers like our skin, eyelashes, mucous membranes, and our urge to sneeze.
The innate immune system also includes fast-acting immune molecules called lymphocytes (white blood cells) and natural killer (NK) cells, which initiate inflammation at the onset of infection to eliminate the infectious agent. Some of these immune cells bring information to the adaptive immune system for a more specialized response. The adaptive system is malleable and designed to produce specific antibodies to destroy unwanted invaders.
How Mushrooms Play a Role In Immunity
Medicinal mushrooms contain active biological compounds – alpha and beta-glucans – that have been found to impact our normal bodily functions. These compounds can adjust the immune system by binding to receptors in the digestive tract and activating an array of immune responses.
Beta-glucans in particular stimulate the production of NK cells from our innate immune system. The glucans also stimulate the production of cytokines and T helper cells, which signal to the rest of the immune system to kick it into high gear. Furthermore, the mushrooms can also suppress inflammation caused by overstimulation of the immune system, balancing the immune response.
AHCC® impacts the immune system by stimulating the production of NK and T cells.
- NK cells: The first line of defense against viral infections like HPV. If NK cell function is impaired, there is an increased risk of infection and disease. Whereas, an improvement in the number and function of NK cells allows the immune system to kill off viral invaders and improve its ability to detect and eliminate abnormal tumour cell growth.
- T cells: AHCC® also increases the production of T cells from the adaptive immune system. These cells help to initiate a more specific immune response and support other immune cells that protect against microorganisms and cancer development.
How AHCC® Affects the Immune System:
- Increases the number of macrophages – immune molecules that eat up invaders and other pathogens
- Increases the levels of cytokines – chemical messengers that tell the rest of the immune system how to react
- Improves the activity of natural killer cells – our defense against abnormal cell development, including cancer cells
- Increases the levels of dendritic cells
- Improves the number and effectiveness of T cells – white blood cells involved in the more specific adaptive immune functions
- Improves the balance between Th1 and Th2 cells involved in activating and directing other immune system functions
How to Reap the Benefits?
To reap the immune-boosting benefits of AHCC®, it is important to take the correct dose. AHCC® typically comes in doses of 500 milligram capsules. For general health, we recommend supplementing 1-3 grams daily, split up into two doses of 500-1500 milligrams. To support specific health conditions, we recommend a dose of 3-6 grams daily, split up into two to three doses of 1500-3000 milligrams.
Remember, consistency is key. It typically takes regular consumption of AHCC® for at least 3 months before affecting immune cell concentrations. While taking AHCC®, you may notice fewer cold-like symptoms (stuffy nose, fever, chills, cough, sore throat), as well as improved wound healing, energy, and mood.
The Future is Looking Fungi
As the science around AHCC® continues to grow, so does our optimism of its potential to heal and maintain health. The added immune benefits of AHCC® is beneficial in the treatment of cancer, support against viral infections like HPV, and promote general health in healthy individuals. We are excited to see how the research behind the compound continues to evolve.