Huperzine-A is a cognitive enhancer that inhibits an enzyme that degrades the learning neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine; due to this, a relative increase occurs. It belongs to the Cholinergic class of molecules, and may be useful in fighting cognitive decline in the elderly.
In 2006, an article reviewing the progress of Huperzine A studies noted that stage IV clinical trials were being done using Huperzine A on elderly people in China. Huperzine A definitely has the potential to help maintain a healthy brain!
Huperzine-A is a compound extracted from the herbs of the Huperziceae family. It is known as an Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which means that it stops an enzyme from breaking down Acetylcholine which results in increases in Acetylcholine.
Acetylcholine is known as the learning neurotransmitter, and is involved in muscle contraction as well. Increasing levels of Acetylcholine is routinely used as a technique amongst weight-lifters and scholars.
Huperzine A appears to be a relatively safe compound from animal studies of toxicity and studies in humans showing no side-effects at dosages routinely supplemented with. Huperzine A is in preliminary trials for usage in fighting Alzheimer's Disease as well.
Numerous animal studies have shown that Huperzine A has a highly protective effect on neurons.
Huperzine-A (Hup-A) is a water-soluble natural plant alkaloid nootropic that easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Hup-A is derived from Chinese Club Moss (Huperzia Serrata). A plant native to southeast Asia where it’s been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Huperzine-A has a strong inhibitory effect on Acetylcholinesterase (AChE). This enzyme AChE, is responsible for degrading the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine (ACh).
Boosting levels of Acetylcholine (ACh)transmission in your brain improves memory and attention. And promotes greater neuroplasticity which is necessary for long-term memory formation and general brain cell health.
Huperzine-A is also a NMDA receptor antagonist. This Glutamatereceptor’s job is to control synaptic plasticity and memory function. Which is a positive thing. But blocking its function can also be effective at times. By preventing damage from too much glutamate. And blocking the toxicity from certain nerve agents.
This combination of boosting Acetylcholine and blocking NMDA receptors requires a fine balance. And could explain why it’s beneficial to cycle the use of Huperzine-A. To maintain the delicate balance of neurochemistry in the brain while realizing its Huperzine-A’s benefits.
Huperzine-A (Hup-A) is produced in the lab from Huperzia Serrata (Chinese Club Moss). Huperzine-A is a standardized compound found in this naturally occurring plant.
Note that Huperzine-A and Huperzine Serrataare NOT the same supplement.
Some Nootropic supplement stacks substitute genuine Huperzine-A with Huperzia Serrata. All the research we’ve seen uses Huperzine-A in their trials. Not Huperzia Serrata.
Look for Nootropics stacks with genuine Huperzine-A on the label. Or sold as a stand-alone supplement. And avoid stacks or supplements called Huperzine Serrata.
Huperzine-A boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.
Scientists at the Weizmann Institute in Israel uncovered how Huperzine-A works to block Acetylcholinesterase (AChE). They made a 3-D image of the structure of the AChE molecule. And found a deep chasm, called the “active-site gorge”.
The scientists found the active-site gorge acts like a guide to funnel Acetylcholine into the interior of the enzyme where it is cut apart prior to recycling. This is how AChE blocks Acetylcholine.
The study revealed that Huperzine-A has the unique ability to fit into this active-site gorge. Like a key into a lock. And appears to bind more tightly and specifically to AChE than other AChE inhibitors.
This ability for Huperzine-A to take Acetylcholine’s place within the AChE enzyme is how more Acetylcholine is made available in the brain.
Professor Joel Sussman said, “It is as if this natural substance were ingeniously designed to fit into the exact spot in AChE where it will do the most good.”
In addition to protecting from glutamate-induced toxicity, Huperzine-A also promotes new dendrite growth in neurons.
As we get older, our brain chemistry and metabolism changes.
↓ Acetylcholine levels decline
↓ Focus, attention and mental agility decline
↓ Nerve growth factor declines
↓ Free radicals damage brain cell mitochondria
All of these changes can happen at any age. And are a product of the food we eat, what we drink, lifestyle habits, the air we breathe and more.
So Huperzine-A can help for age-related cognitive decline, as well as a student looking to do better in school. By boosting the availability of Acetylcholine in your brain.
Huperzine-A boosts levels of available Acetylcholine in the brain by blocking the effect of the enzyme Acetylcholinesterase (AChE).
Acetylcholine (ACh) is critical for encoding new memories, reasoning, concentration, cognition, and neuroplasticity. Not enough ACh can result in diseases like ADHD, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Huperzine-A’s benefit as a Nootropic can boost short-term mental performance like attention and memory. And even helping your brain for long-term brain health.
Huperzine-A supports brain cell mitochondria. The main energy centers of each cell. It reduces free radical damage by acting as an antioxidant. Free radicals degrade mitochondria and their function. Studies have shown that Hup-A enhances the activities of other antioxidant enzymes as well.
Huperzine-A boosts neuron resistance to beta-amyloid induced dysfunction that could lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s. Beta-amyloid affects ATP levels in mitochondria. Hup-A protects against this damage.
Huperzine-A protects brain cells from glutamate toxicity. Too much of the neurotransmitter Glutamate has been associated with brain cell degeneration. And other cognitive dysfunction and behavior. Hup-A seems to slow down this Glutamate toxicity at least partly by acting as a NMDA receptor antagonist.
Huperzine-A boosts nerve growth factor (NGF) in the brain. NGF is critical in brain cell development, maintenance and repair. Declines in NGF-levels in the brain are associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Studies show Hup-A not only prevents this drop in NGF from happening. It actually helps boost the production of NGF.
Nootropics users report Huperzine-A provides a boost in mental energy. Without the side effects normally associated with a stimulant.
Improved cognition and clear thinking are common when using Hup-A. Many report a boost in short-term memory. Recall is better in the long-term.
And some with Alzheimer’s report the progression of the disease slows down. Instead of advancing.
You should be able to experience the effects of Huperzine-A soon after you take it. It’s water-soluble so it’s digested and enters your cells quickly.
One thing to note is; Huperzine-A has a long half-life. In other words, it does not leave your system nearly as quickly as most other Nootropics. So many neurohackers restrict their use of Hup-A to a couple of times per week.
Huperzine-A is most known for boosting Acetylcholine (ACh) in the brain. Efficient ACh neurotransmission is critical for learning, memory and attention.
Reduced levels of ACh are associated with declines in cognition and memory. And are implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and others.
Huperzine-A supplementation helps even in those with no sign of brain disease. It can enhance attention and memory in most looking to boost cognition.
If you ever find yourself in a war-zone, you may want to stock up on Huperzine-A.
Researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington D.C. are investigating Huperzine-A’s potential as a pretreatment to protect soldiers against chemical warfare nerve agent poisoning.
One of the studies conducted at Walter Reed looked at Huperzine-A’s protective potential. Scientists found Hup-A to be twice as effective in protecting against the lethal effects of the nerve agent soman as the leading drug in that role called physostigmine. Huperzine-A’s effects lasted for six hours compared to only 90 minutes for the drug.
This study is verification of using Huperzine-A as a nootropic at any age. Researchers in China selected 68 students who complained of bad memory. And their learning performance was getting worse in school.
In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial students were given either 100 mcg of Hup-A or a placebo for 4 weeks.
At the conclusion of the trial, researchers found that the students using Huperzine-A scored higher on memory testing than those who took the placebo.
Much of the research on Huperzine-A has been done in China. And many of the studies have been with patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
One study done in Shanghai worked with 200 patients who met the criteria for having Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers gave one group of patients 300-500 mcg of Hup-A daily for 8 – 24 weeks. The other group got a placebo.
The results of the study showed that Huperzine-A’s effects increased over time. The patients that used Hup-A showed significant improvements in cognition, orientation, attention, memory, mood and behavior.
Huperzine-A is sold in tablet or capsule form. Tablets and capsules are usually 50 – 200 mcg each.
Some ready-made Nootropic stacks include Huperzine-A in their formula.
Huperzia Serrata is simply raw, powdered Chinese Club Moss and should be avoided. It’s not standardized so you don’t know how much you’re getting. And it’s NOT the same as Huperzine-A.
Supplementation of Huperzine-A tends to be in the range of 50-200mcg daily, and while this can be divided into multiple dosages throughout the day it tends to be taken at a single dose.
Supplementation of Huperzine-A does not require food to be congested, and can be taken in a fasted state.
Huperzine-A does have a long half-life so you may want to cycle it. Either take it every 2nd day, or even twice per week. The benefits are long-lasting and will stay with you.
Cycling of Huperzine-A tends to be used since it can remain in the body for quite some time (half-life of 10-14 hours), and although a 'cycle' of huperzine-A tends to last 2-4 weeks followed by a break the optimal cycle length is not yet known.