While it hasn’t been around for a long time, Huperzine-A is actually synthesized in the lab. It comes from the Chinese Club Moss plant and may provide some valuable brain supplements that can boost focus, attention, and memory.
It can do this in a number of ways. First of all, it is believed to neutralize a specific enzyme that destroys acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is vital as a neurotransmitter for cognitive function.
Huperzine-A is also believed to potentially enhance brain energy. Some studies indicate it may also improve nerve growth in the brain, which can help improve brain health and certain functions. As an antioxidant, Huperzine-A also helps to improve the activity of other brain antioxidants.
The potential benefits of Huperzine-A.
There are numerous potential benefits to this particular nootropic. At its base core, it is believed to help boost short-term memory and mental performance while also establishing the groundwork for more long-term brain improvements.
As just mentioned, there are several factors that come into play when taking Huperzine-A as a nootropic brain supplement. One of the most important, though, is its ability to not only boost acetylcholine, but also to help protect it.
Why acetylcholine is so important.
There has been a tremendous amount of research through the years regarding acetylcholine. That’s because it is directly associated with memory, brain health, and cognitive function, especially over an extended period of time.
It is a brain chemical that, when its levels begin to decline, can lead to degenerative brain conditions, including potentially Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Acetylcholinesterase (AchE) is an enzyme that attacks and begins to break down acetylcholine. Huperzine-A is believed to help block acetylcholinesterase. That helps to maintain high levels of acetylcholine, which helps to protect the brain’s overall health and ability to maintain high cognitive functionality.
Research supporting Huperzine-A is positive.
There are many different research studies that have looked at Huperzine-A’s ability to improve overall brain health and cognitive function. Much of this research has focused on degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, but it also has shown some positive effects for those with healthy brains and normal cognitive functions.
One such study indicated that Huperzine-A “crosses the blood brain barrier smoothly” and has a prolonged biological half-life and a specific tendency to target acetylcholinesterase (Jiang H, Luo X, Bai D).
Another research study (Zangara A) found that Huperzine-A acts as a “powerful inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase.” This research also highlighted that using Huperzine-A helps to improve cognitive functions and quality of life in individuals who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Finally, other researchers have found that Huperzine-A benefits the brain, especially with regard to rapid absorption and its ability to inhibit acetylcholinesterase.
What about its impact on the individual?
When people begin taking various supplements and nootropics, they often expect to ‘feel’ something happening that provides benefit. That’s not always going to be the case as certain supplements or ingredients are going to be working in different ways. However, for many who have taken Huperzine-A as a supplement, they’ve been most remarked about their improvement with memory.
In other words, individuals who have taken Huperzine-A on a regular basis have noted a significant improvement in their memory. It also has the potential benefit of improving mood and mental sharpness, helping them stay focused, especially over an extended period of time.
Because of the indicated rapid absorption rates of this particular supplement into brain tissue, that suggests that the benefits may be felt quite quickly.
Other research studies.
As noted, there have been numerous research studies conducted on Huperzine-A in various settings. In certain petri dish animal research studies, it has been indicated that Huperzine-A may actually improve brain cell proliferation (Tang, Wang, Tang). These researchers found that this could indicate the ingredients is beneficial for the treatment of various neurodegenerative disorders.
In another research study that was conducted on rats’ brain cells (Gao & Tang), the researchers concluded that Huperzine-A helps to “protects mitochondria against Abeta damages.
As for human-based research studies, many of the researchers have focused more on cognitive function and quality of life for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In one particular study, 202 patients who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s were given 400 mcg of Huperzine-A or a placebo every day for 12 weeks.
During the study (Zhang et al) these individuals were tested based on a variety of cognitive function measures. When the study was finished, the researchers noted that those who had been taking Huperzine-A showed various levels of improvements in their cognitive behavior, cognitive function, and mood as compared to the placebo group.
They also showed improvement across the baseline, which is generally where they had been starting from. The researchers concluded that Huperzine-A “remarkably improves cognition, behavior, ADL [activities of daily living] and more of Alzheimer’s patients.”
In another particular study (Xu et al) that focused on individuals with Alzheimer’s, the researchers found that when their study participants took 200 mcg of Huperzine-A daily for eight weeks, 58% of the patients showed positive improvements in memory, cognition, and behavior. These researchers noted that this particular ingredient shows promise in treating Alzheimer’s symptoms.
A word of caution.
Looking at all this research makes it seem as though Huperzine-A is one of the quintessential miracle supplements for overall brain health and cognitive improvement. However, it’s important to look a bit beyond outward appearances.
For example, because Huperzine-A is made from Chinese Club Moss, it is also produced in China, where most of the research that has been promoting this particular ingredient as being beneficial is also conducted.
Does that mean the research is invalid? Absolutely not, but it may be prudent to take some of that research with a grain of salt, so to speak.
Recommended dosage amounts.
Research has indicated that 200 mcg daily is the most common dosage that highlighted positive benefits across the board. Most supplements that contain Huperzine-A in retail outlets contain dosages of 50 mcg, 100 mcg, and 200 mcg.
Potential side effects.
It’s important to understand side effects, but across the board most research indicated that Huperzine-A is essentially side effect free. One researcher even concluded that Huperzine-A is “devoid of unexpected toxicity[i].”
The bottom line.
When you’re looking into various brain nutrient supplements, Huperzine-A is one of the best ones you can focus on. It continues to show positive benefits, especially for those who are enduring degenerative cognitive function at the moment.
Look out for it.
When looking at various brain supplements, you may come across Huperzia serrata, which could also be advertised as the same as Huperzine-A. It is not. It is the herb of the plant, but it is not the lab generated ingredient.
Always focus on supplements that contain Huperzine-A as opposed to the similar sounding name.
[i] Zangara A. The psychopharmacology of huperzine A: an alkaloid with cognitive enhancing and neuroprotective properties of interest in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):675-86.