What is Huperzine A?
Huperzine A is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in the extracts of the firmoss Huperzia serrata. It has been used in China for centuries for the treatment of swelling, fever and blood disorders. Recently in clinical trials it was proven to have neuroprotective effects and is currently being investigated as a possible treatment of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Due to the latter it is believed to increase learning and memory capabilities in the younger.
How does Huperzine A work?
Huperzine A works by preventing enzymes breaking down acetylcholine which results in a direct increase of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a known neurotransmitter for learning and cognitive functions. It is also involved in the process that muscle contractions unravel, benefiting in certain types of sportive activities with the aim to reach results faster. Administering Huperzine A orally on a daily basis for a period of up to 3 months, allegedly has cognitive enhancing effects.
Effects of Huperzine A
Originally Huperzine A is used for treating Alzheimer’s disease. Since it has properties of nootropic value, such as learning and memory enhancement, increasing alertness and awareness and even benefits in treating a muscle disease called myasthenia gravis (chronic condition of rapidly weakening and tiring muscle). Due to Huperzine A inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholine, which is also, amongst other things, involved in muscular functioning such as contractions. Huperzine A is therefore often used by weight-lifters and bodybuilders to gain muscle mass.
Studies on Huperzine A
Huperzine A has always been studied as a potential treatment of Alzheimer disease . Also its efficacy in conjunction with the increased level of acetylcholine, which is responsible for many performant neurotransmitters . Clinical trials in China have shown that huperzine A is comparably effective to the drugs currently on the market, and may even be somewhat safer in terms of side effects.
Side-Effects of Huperzine A
Animal studies in regards to its toxicity and human studies suggest that supplementation of Huperzin A has no side effects when taken at the recommended dosage. However combining Huperzine A with other choline inhibitors in form of medication or supplement can cause severe side-effects. Some consumers have reported common side effects with other nootropics like nausea, diarrhea or vomiting.
Recommended Dosage / Usage Instructions
Recommendations vary, however most sources suggest up to 50-200mcg per day. Dosage is dependent on diet and other nutritional factors. For example, if Acetylcholine levels are already stable and high.
Huperzine-A is water-soluble, so taking with a meal is not necessary.
If you are already taking a prescribed cholinesterase inhibitor, combining it with Huperzine A can cause serious side-effects and it is therefore recommended to consult a doctor before taking Huperzine A.
There is not enough evidence about the safety of taking huperzine A if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Avoidance during these times is therefore recommended.
 - Huperzine a as potential treatment of Alzheimer's disease: an assessment on chemistry, pharmacology, and clinical studies - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21766442
 - Effects of acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase inhibition on breathing in mice adapted or not to reduced acetylcholinesterase - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15652380