Besides helping reduce inflammation, huperzine-a is also known as a potential treatment for memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
In this article:
- What Is Huperzine-A?
- Huperzine-A Uses
- Huperzine-A Benefits
- Huperzine-A Dosage Guide
- Huperzine-A Contraindications
7 Huperzine-A Benefits
What Is Huperzine-A?
Huperzine-a is a substance that comes from the Chinese club moss. The plant extract has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine as a memory sharpener and inflammation reducer.
Huperzine-a is also popular for being a cholinesterase inhibitor.
What Is Cholinesterase? An enzyme that works to help the nervous system to perform properly. It breaks apart acetylcholine to help in nerve impulse transmission.
Huperzine-a has several uses, such as:
- Supplement that helps boost energy and alertness and reduce memory loss
- Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
- Treatment for symptoms of dementia
- Adjunct medication for major depressive disorders
1. Enhances Memory
Huperzine-a is most popular for enhancing memory. Because of this, it is often taken as a nootropic for memory support.
A study on teenage students in 1999 shows that two 50mcg daily doses of huperzine-a a day over 4 weeks showed improved memory and learning performance. Thirty-four pairs of students were given either huperzine-a supplements or placebos, and those who took the supplements showed more improvements compared to the placebo group.
2. May Treat Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
Huperzine-a inhibits cholinesterase. In doing so, it keeps acetylcholine from breaking down, which usually results in memory loss, lapses in judgment, and disruption of thought processes.
What Is Acetylcholine? A neurotransmitter or chemical messenger in the brain. It stimulates neuromuscular connections.
3. Improves Quality of Sleep
Huperzine-a is also a relaxant, which is helpful for those having trouble sleeping. As it prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine, there is enough supply to ensure the production of melatonin.
It can also increase your REM phase up to 30%. This means a higher likelihood of a deep, restful slumber, and not shallow sleep that disturbs you throughout the night.
What Is Melatonin? This is a hormone that signals your body when it’s time to sleep and wake up. Because of this, it’s usually its highest at night.
What Is REM? Stands for Rapid Eye Movement. It is the deepest stage of your sleep cycle and often occurs 90 minutes after you fall asleep.
4. Improves Acetylcholine Signal Transmission
Acetylcholine plays an important role in cognitive functions, as well as mechanisms relating to memory, learning, attention, and alertness. Huperzine-a’s strongest action is improving the signaling of this neurotransmitter, which explains how it can positively affect memory loss.
5. Helps Boost Liver Health
Huperzine-a may also help protect the liver cells that get oxygen after undergoing a long deoxygenation period. This means it may lessen the damage to liver cells after reoxygenation, usually after liver transplants.
6. May Help Recovery from Traumatic Brain and/or Spinal Cord Injury
In combination with brain-supporting medications like alpha lipoic acid, vinpocetine, acetyl-L-carnitine, n-acetylcysteine, and fish oil, huperzine-a may help patients recover from brain and spine injuries. Huperzine-a in particular, helps the brain recover from bleeding by preventing the mitochondria from getting damaged, as well as keeping cells from dying.
7. May Help Treat Cognitive Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder
Huperzine-a is sometimes used as an additional medication for patients with depression. While it does not resolve depression altogether, studies show that it helps resolve the cognitive symptoms of depression faster than placebos in human trials.
Huperzine-A Dosage Guide
- Patients with Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia: twice daily in 50-200 mcg doses
- Senile dementia, pre-senile dementia, or age-related decline in cognitive skills: 30 mcg twice daily
- Younger people, primarily adolescents looking to improve memory function: 100 mcg daily
- Patients with myasthenia gravis: a daily injection
What Is Myasthenia Gravis? A chronic autoimmune disease that causes weakness in skeletal muscles without causing atrophy
What Is Vascular Dementia? A form of dementia that results from impaired supplies of blood to the brain. This may come as a result of a series of strokes, or other injuries that impair blood flow to the brain.
While it’s a generally safe nootropic, it may have a number of side effects to watch out for:
- Slower Heart Rate – Huperzine-a may slow down a person’s heart rate and may be a problem for those who already have pre-existing heart conditions.
- Seizures – Those suffering from epilepsy are heavily cautioned from using huperzine-a as it affects various chemicals in the brain.
- Gastrointestinal Blockage – Huperzine-a may cause an increase in fluid and mucus secretion in the intestine. This may result in congestion, which may exacerbate existing gastrointestinal conditions.
- May Worsen Peptic Ulcers – The congestion caused by huperzine-a may also exacerbate peptic ulcers.
- May Worsen Certain Lung Conditions – Lung conditions such as emphysema or asthma may become worse after taking huperzine-a. This is because of an increase in fluid and mucus secretions in the lung, that may lead to congestion.
- Blockage in the Urinary And/Or Reproductive System – Huperzine-a may increase secretions, which in turn may cause blockage in the urinary or reproductive system.
Huperzine-a may also cause an adverse or counterproductive effect on the body when combined with certain medications. For example, it may counteract drying or anticholinergic drugs because it can increase secretions in the body.
It may also interact negatively with other Alzheimer’s disease medication and increase its negative side effects. Because of this, use huperzine-a with caution, and always consult with your primary care provider.
Here is a quick overview of huperzine-a from Jonathan Wright:
Huperzine-a has a lot of promising benefits to offer not only on the improvement of memory skills but also in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. While there are few studies on huperzine-a, they are mostly positive and deserve more attention.
Talk to your doctor first before trying out huperzine-a, whether to improve memory or to treat symptoms of dementia. This is so you can examine all possible risks and benefits before diving in.
Work on your health and mind by taking vitamins early on. Luckily, Dr. Seeds has a vitamin bundle that decreases inflammation and prevents injuries.
Do you have experience with taking huperzine-a? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
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