(Chinese Club Moss)
Other names: Hup-A, Chinese Club Moss
Used for: treatment of cognitive decline, improved neurotransmitter health, increased mental energy and cognition
Known side effects: increased blood pressure, incontinence, diarrhea, vomiting
Dosing: 50 mcg to 200 mcg daily
Huperzine A is a natural nootropic derived from Huperzia Serrata (Chinese Club Moss) plant predominantly found in Southeast Asia. This water-soluble alkaloid compound is one of the most precious gifts to the man from nature.
Huperzine A slowly crept into scientific discussion some 30-40 years ago. Not a great deal of time, considering the fact that the herbal derivative has served as Chinese traditional medicine for thousands of years.
As part of the traditional medicine, Huperzine A is used to improve blood circulation, treat muscle problems and skin conditions. As a nootropic, it’s used to boost memory and optimize cerebral performance. The natural nootropic is also hailed as a potent neuroprotectant that can treat a wide range of neurodegenerative disorders.
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Why Use Huperzine A?
Our thoughts and actions are the sum of all the functions and reactions that take place in the body. Like a machine, our body undergoes wear and tear and becomes less efficient with age.
Once we cross the crucial age of 40, we can notice the physical and psychological change. We are not as strong, fast, or quick as we used to be. The same can be said about cognitive capabilities too. Why do these things happen? What’s the reason behind the gradual decline in physical and mental abilities?
There are many contributing factors, some of which are listed here:
- The decline in neurotransmitter levels, especially acetylcholine, which is associated with memory, learning, attention, and mental agility
- Damage to the brain and brain cell mitochondria by free radicals
- The decrease in the production of Nerve Growth Factor
How can Huperzine A help? The nootropic can stem the decline and improve cognition by counteracting the points mentioned above. As you’ll find out soon enough, Huperzine A supplementation will protect the neurons, increase neurotransmitters, and boost cerebral energy.
Let’s examine the functions in detail.
How Does Huperzine A Work?
Huperzine A and Neurotransmitters: To maintain top efficiency, the body regularly produces new acetylcholine and breaks down the used neurotransmitter with the help of acetylcholinesterase. Any imbalance in this process will affect the levels of acetylcholine in the brain, thus influencing all the faculties associated with the neurotransmitter. The supplement Huperzine A inhibits the functioning of acetylcholinesterase (i.e.) it acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, so more of the neurotransmitter is available to use.
While some Nootropics provide choline for the production of acetylcholine, Huperzine A delivers the same result by preventing its break down, and the supplement does this function quite well. Hup-A is considered one of the best acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. That’s because the nootropic targets the G4 isoform of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Huperzine A and Glutamate Toxicity: Shortage of neurotransmitters affects cognition – this is quite well-known. Similarly, the high concentration of neurotransmitters, especially glutamate can result in cell damage and cell death. Chronic glutamate toxicity is one of the contributing factors of age-related neurodegeneration. The symptoms of chronic glutamate toxicity are lack of focus, increased sensitivity to pain, restlessness, and anxiety.
As people age, the various receptors in the brain become more sensitive; this oversensitivity can further increase the risk of glutamate toxicity. Huperzine A comes to the rescue by becoming glutamate receptor antagonist. The nootropic prevents neurodegeneration by reducing the sensitivity of neurons to glutamate (1) (2).
Hup A and Mental Energy: The power plant that supplies the required energy to sustain neuron and brain function is situated in the brain cells itself, in the form of mitochondria. The nootropic boosts mental energy by supporting the mitochondria in the brain.
Huperzine A and Neuroprotectant Properties: Oxidative stress and the damage that free radicals do to the nerve cells is a significant reason for age-related cognitive degeneration. Not just the brain; other parts of the body are also affected by chronic oxidative damage. The antioxidant properties of Huperzine A curtail oxidative reactions and restore the balance, thereby ensuring a healthy brain (3).
Studies show that Huperzine A can be effectively used as a supplementary therapy for cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s (4).
The nootropic also helps the neurons by promoting the growth of dendrite – the short branches of the neurons (5).
The Benefits of Huperzine A Supplement
Huperzine A for Better Memory and Learning
The supplement’s ability to improve memory and learning was put to the test in China. In the trial, some 68 students, who self-professed of having a poor memory, were chosen. Their academic performance was also declining in school.
For four weeks, a section of the participants was given 100 mcg of the supplement; the rest received placebo. The results showed the group that received the actual nootropic supplement – Huperzine A – performed better in the memory test (6).
Huperzine A for Healthy Brain Cell Development and Repair
Along with its neuroprotective properties, Huperzine A also has the ability to increase Nerve Growth Factor, a compound that’s necessary to develop, maintain, and repair brain cells. When the nerve cells are not produced regularly and maintained and repaired periodically, the natural outcome is a gradual decline in cognition and increase in the risks of neurodegeneration. Huperzine A supports a healthy brain by preventing the reduction and increasing the production of the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) (7).
Huperzine A Boosts Cognition
China is the hotbed of Huperzine A research. The majority of studies on this nootropic come from this orient country. In Shanghai, a study involved 200 participants who showed signs of Alzheimer’s disease. While some received placebo, others were given a daily dose of 300-500 mcg of Huperzine A, and the study duration was between 8-24 weeks.
The scientists saw a gradual increase in the effect of the supplement with time. In addition, the patients who received the Hup-A supplement showed improvement in behavior, mood, memory, attention, and cognition (8).
Hup-A to Treat Symptoms of Depressive Disorders
There is no conclusive scientific evidence to suggest Huperzine A helps relieve depression or similar disorders. But according to a study the nootropic supplement can treat cognitive decline, which is a major symptom of depressive disorders.
The study involved 238 participants (all between the age of 16 and 60). One set of participants received only antidepressant medication, while the other was given both antidepressant and the Huperzine A supplement. The scientists concluded that the nootropic did not treat depression, but it considerably improved cognition and overall health of the participants (9).
The Difference between Huperzine A and Huperzia Serrata
Some of you may wonder ‘how is Huperzine A different from Huperzia Serrata?’ The former – Huperzine A – is a human-made nootropic derived from the Chinese Club Moss plant (Huperzia Serrata). The nootropic supplement labeled Huperzine A is entirely different from the Huperzia Serrata supplement.
Why should you opt for Huperzine A supplement? There are thousands of supplements available on the market promising miraculous results and magical cures to various ailments. You mustn’t trust any of the claims unless a supplement has passed scientific scrutiny. In this regard, of the two supplements under question, only Huperzine A can be trusted because the majority of the studies only use Huperzine A supplement and not Huperzia Serrata.
Note: When choosing a nootropic stack, peruse the ingredients list to make sure the stack has the scientifically tested Huperzine A and not any untested variant.
Huperzine A Dosage
The nootropic supplement is available in two forms – capsules and injection. Huperzine A injection is used to treat certain muscle weakness conditions and cognitive degeneration disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Experts recommend a daily dose of 50-200 mcg to boost cognition and treat various ailments. To treat muscle disorders, 30 – 50 mcg of Huperzine A supplement is injected directly into the muscle, twice every day. If taken as capsules, to boost memory, the recommended dosage is 100 mcg taken twice every day, and to treat Alzheimer’s a daily dosage of 300 – 500 mcg is suggested. For other symptoms of the cognitive disorder, an average daily dose of 100 mcg is recommended (10).
The Huperzine A supplement is non-toxic if the standard dosage guideline is strictly followed. You can also consult a medical care provider for the best dosage recommendation and information on drug interactions.
Huperzine A is water-soluble; hence the supplement can be taken with or without food. Also, the herbal nootropic can be taken as a single dose or spread the dose throughout the day. Hup-A is a fast-acting nootropic; it’s ingested quickly and has a long half-life.
The nootropic has a half-life of 10-14 hours, which means Hup-A stays in the body for a long time. The long half-life can become a drawback because with regular use our body will soon develop tolerance to the supplement. For this reason, experts advocate cycling of the Hup-A supplement. The opinions on the best cycling ratio vary from person to person. Some experts advise using the supplement for 2 or 4 weeks and then taking a short break.
The Possible Side Effects of Huperzine A
Your body will be delighted and the brain grateful to such a wonderful Huperzine A nootropic. The supplement aims to optimize cognitive function and protect the brain from degeneration. The nootropic delivers these results without harming the body and causing any adverse reactions.
Huperzine A is quite safe to use if you follow the dosage guidelines. The natural nootropic isn’t known to cause any severe side effects.
Hundreds of studies on Hup-A have revealed very little about its side effects, which makes us believe that the supplement is safe, non-toxic, and well-tolerated.
Although adverse reaction resulting from regular use of Huperzine A is rare, the possibility of side effects increases with increasing dosage. Too much of Hup-A supplement can lead to slow heart rate, increase in blood pressure, incontinence, drooling, muscle twitching, diarrhea, difficulty in speech, and vomiting.
People with certain medical conditions should avoid Hup-A supplement or use only after consulting a medical care provider. Huperzine A can augment the effect of drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s. The nootropic can increase mucus production and buildup in the reproductive system, urinary tract, and lungs. Hence, if you suffer from the reproductive system or urinary tract blockage, or asthma, avoid using Hup-A supplement. People dealing with cardiovascular disorders and epilepsy are advised against using this nootropic.
The Huperzine A supplement seems to target all the right areas and functions that are associated with cognition decline. The nootropic’s ability to boost acetylcholine levels will boost memory, attention, mental agility, and learning. Students, professionals, and everyone else wanting to improve cognitive performance will undoubtedly benefit from this function. The presence of acetylcholine also delays the damage that age can have on the brain. Furthermore, the neuroprotectant and antioxidant properties of Hup-A protects the brain and in the elderly, who are dealing with dementia, treat the symptoms and disease itself.
- “Huperzine A, a Nootropic Alkaloid, Inhibits N-Methyl-D-Aspartate-Induced Current in Rat Dissociated Hippocampal Neurons.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11516831.
- “The NMDA Receptor Ion Channel: a Site for Binding of Huperzine A.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11920920.
- “Huperzine Induces Alteration in Oxidative Balance and Antioxidants in a Guinea Pig Model.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22167216.
- “Huperzine a as Potential Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease: an Assessment on Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Clinical Studies.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21766442.
- “The Protection of Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitor on β-Amyloid-Induced Injury of Neurite Outgrowth via Regulating Axon Guidance Related Genes Expression in Neuronal Cells.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3484487/.
- “Huperzine-A Capsules Enhance Memory and Learning Performance in 34 Pairs of Matched Adolescent Students.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10678121.
- “Effects of Huperzine A on Secretion of Nerve Growth Factor in Cultured Rat Cortical Astrocytes and Neurite Outgrowth in Rat PC12 Cells.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15916732/.
- “Efficacy and Safety of Natural Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitor Huperzine A in the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease: an Updated Meta-Analysi.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19221692.
- “Huperzine A for Treatment of Cognitive Impairment in Major Depressive Disorder: a Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27605862.
- “HUPERZINE A.” WebMD, webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-764/huperzine-a.
“Huperzine A.” Braintropic, www.braintropic.com/nootropics/huperzine-a/.
“Huperzine A Review, Uses and Mechanisms of Action.” Nootriment, https://nootriment.com/huperzine-a/ .
“Huperzine-A.” NootropicsExpert, https://nootropicsexpert.com/huperzine-a/ .
“Huperzine-A.” Examine, https://examine.com/supplements/huperzine-a/ .