The shiitake mushroom is a culinary delight consumed with gusto by diners across the globe. It is also the source of active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) which, although almost more of a mouthful than the mushroom itself, forms the basis of several very promising therapeutic supplements. Found in the mycelia of the shiitake mushroom, AHCC lowers high blood pressure and is believed to be a valuable immune system booster. Several studies of the benefits of active hexose correlated compound have also shown promise in the field of post-operative recovery in cancer patients. These results have made AHCC a popular supplemental treatment for cancer patients, particularly in Asian countries.

Active hexose correlated compound is manufactured from the mycelia, or root threads, of the shiitake mushroom. The process involves culturing large masses of mycelia in a holding tank for approximately two months. The root threads are then subjected to fermentation in a rice bran mixture to encourage enzyme reactions within the thread mass. Once this reaction is complete, the mycelia are sterilized, concentrated, and freeze dried. The resultant product has a 40% polysaccharide content including beta glucan and acetylated alpha-glucan, a glucan variety unique to AHCC.

This extract was originally developed as an aid for patients suffering from high blood pressure. Further research indicated though that the compound had more potential as an immune system booster and treatment for viral infections. These characteristics are the result of the glucan content of AHCC stimulating the production of dentric cells, one of the key elements in immune system activity. This cell type filters antigens in the blood and signals the lymphoid organs to produce cytokines which stimulate an immune response. The presence of AHCC in the bloodstream not only stimulates the production of dentric cells but also increases their general efficacy, thus further enhancing the process.

The compound also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that appear valuable in the treatment of liver cancer. Tests conducted in Thailand have shown that terminal liver cancer patients apparently regained normal liver function after a six month course of AHCC. This would indicate that active hexose correlated compound may offer additional benefits for those suffering from ailments caused by or which cause chronic inflammation such as pancreatitis, inflammatory bowl disorders, and hepatitis. In addition, it is thought that AHCC may be of benefit to those suffering from impaired thyroid and testosterone production due to oxidative stress. The immune-system boosting qualities of AHCC may also aid in controlling drug resistant opportunistic infections in weakened or traumatized patients.