Huperzine A is a popular alkaloid that is used as a nootropic, and that is sometimes recommended as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. It is thought to have neuroprotective properties, and is often considered of as a 'full package.'
Many supplements contain Huperzine A - one well-known 'full package' stack is Qualia, which contains not just Huperzine, but other nootropics as well. Let's take a quick look at some of the potential benefits of Huperzine A.
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An Introduction to Huperzine A and Its Benefits:
Huperzine A is also referred to as HupA, and it comes from the Huperzia Serrata or club moss. Club Moss is known in traditional Chinese Medicine as Qian Ceng Ta, and it was traditionally used as a treatment for everything from fevers and inflammation to schizophrenia.
Huperzine A has been found to be useful as a memory enhancer, and also as a neuroprotective agent, and it has been tested in both trials with animals, and in clinical trials on humans.
Huperzine A comes in two forms, the (+) and the (-). The (-) variant is the kind that is naturally found in Huperzia Moss, and it is considered to be more potent than the (=) variation.
What Does Huperzine A Do?
People respond to Huperzine A differently, depending on their genetics. You can find out about how your genetic makeup might affect how you respond to Huperzine A by visiting SelfDecode.
The basics, however, are that Huperzine A inhibits the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. Huperzine A is a reversible, potent inhibitor of acetylcholine esterase or ACHE. This is the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine.
Huperzine A is thought to have other specific brain-supporting benefits which are not related to its impact on ACHE. Huperzine A will bind to ACHE, but it does not have a structure that is similar to acetylcholine.
Huperzine A actually works in a way that is a lot like donepezil, tacrine, rivastigmine, galantamine and other Alzheimer's drugs. What makes it preferable to them, however, is that it has fewer side-effects, so it is often used in mild cases.
It can help with inflammation, and it reduces the NF-kB signaling, which is something that it is thought happens through multiple pathways, including the inhibition of ACHE.
The impacts include changing the levels of neurotransmitters, as well as increasing acetylcholine levels. In testing on animals, there was an increase in the level of acetylcholine levels in the brains of rats for up to six hours after the administration of Huperzine A.
The exact increase depends upon the part of the brain being measured - increased levels are noticed in the hippocampus after around 30 minutes, and in the prefrontal and frontal cortex after approximately one hour.
This means that Huperzine A could be useful for managing conditions which affect specific areas of the brain. The supplement also results in more prolonged increases in acetylcholine in the brain than drugs such as physostigmine, tacrine, and metrifonate.
Another interesting impact is that Huperzine A has been found to increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, but it does not increase serotonin levels.
Understanding Huperzine A's Pharmacokinetics:
One interesting effect is that Huperzine can cross the blood-brain barrier quite effectively. When it is injected, it will quite readily distribute itself through the brain, and therefore it can spread to all areas, including the hippocampus, nucleus accumbens, and the cortex.
It is absorbed and turned over quite quickly and readily. In tests on humans, oral Huperzine A was absorbed quickly and was also readily distributed through the brain, as well as eliminated quite quickly.
Experiments on mice found that it passed to the kidney and liver within 15 minutes after injection and that it was entirely eliminated within 12 hours. Huperzine A can cross into the placenta.
It has been found in trace amounts in the fetus when tests were performed on mice. Most of the Huperzine A that is taken in will be eliminated in urine. A minimal amount is eliminated via feces.
What Is the Safe Dose?
A dose of 0.99 mg is considered a high dose, and at such levels, peak serum concentration is reached within less than 90 minutes. The half-life of the substance is 288 minutes, which means that for a steady effect it would be required to dose Huperzine A at multiple intervals throughout the day.
It is generally well tolerated, with no significant side effects being reported with doses at levels between 0.18 and 0.56 mg for human use. There have also been no indications that users can become tolerant with repeated exposure.
When taken orally, Huperzine A can reach maximum concentration after 58 minutes but starts to appear in the blood around 5 to 10 minutes after taking it. With oral use, 50% of the substance remains in the blood after ten hours, but by 24 hours it has been almost completely eliminated.
The most often touted benefit of Huperzine A is that it is neuroprotective. It is thought to have benefits regarding protecting against damage from organophosphates, and even against some seizures and other issues and dysfunctions such as those that might be caused by soman.
In addition, Huperzine A can protect against glutamate toxicity. Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter, and it can damage or even kill neuronal cells if it over-stimulates the receptors. Huperzine A acts as an NMDA receptor antagonist, and this means that it can block the glutamate toxicity.
Another way that Huperzine A can benefit people is by protecting the brain from oxidative damage. In addition to being able to bind to the NMDA receptors, it can also activate mTOR signaling pathways and BDNF-dependent pathways. It can also work to prevent iron overload and the associated oxidative damage.
Some people how have suffered from spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injury find that Huperzine A can help them with recovery. It helps to boost blood flow to the brain and to improve cognitive function.
It is often used to help former NFL football players, boxers, and others with a history of concussions. Huperzine A can help to delay cell death and help to prevent damage to mitochondria. This is useful for people who have suffered from spinal cord trauma.
Treatment and Management of Alzheimer's Disease:
One recent review of numerous different interventions for Alzheimer's disease suggests that Huperzine A can help to prevent and mitigate cognitive decline for sufferers of the condition more effectively than many other types of intervention.
Currently, the more in-depth study is needed, because other pharmaceuticals have had much more extensive trials and tests. The trials that have been done on Huperzine A so far have primarily been conducted in China and were not controlled as rigorously as they could have been.
However, there is some promising evidence to suggest that Huperzine A could reduce the inflammatory response that is caused by amyloid beta, and that because of this it could help to prevent apoptosis.
In addition, it has been found to generally improve cognitive function and well-being in those who have Alzheimer's disease, as well as helping with brain damage caused by other issues such as sepsis.
There are other issues that it can help with, including the cognitive symptoms associated with depression, as well as issues related to epilepsy. In testing on rats, it was found to be an effective treatment for seizures, and suitable for controlling convulsions.
Another interesting potential avenue for the use of Huperzine A is in the treatment of addiction. It can be self-administered relatively safely and has been found to help to decrease a person's perceptions of the effects of cocaine. The brain is not the only part of the body that is thought to benefit from the use of Huperzine A.
While the use as a nootropic is something that is most well-known and appreciated, and the memory and cognitive benefits are the most well-known, it also helps with liver function, by protecting liver cells if they go through a prolonged period of deoxygenation.
It acts as a controller of the pathways that help to govern cell death and oxidation and therefore can help to decrease damage caused during things like the reoxygenation which happens following an organ transplant.
Huperzine A can help to stimulate the growth of neuronal cells, as shown in testing on mice. It can also benefit people who suffer from Myasthenia Gravis, which is an autoimmune condition which means that the immune system attacks the acetylcholine receptors in the body.
The usual treatments for the condition involve either an immunosuppressant or some form of ACHE inhibitor - of which Huperzine A can be considered to belong. One study used 128 participants and found that Huperzine A helped to reduce the muscle-weakness that is typically associated with Myasthenia Gravis.
Since Huperzine A has been found to not interact with Cytochrome P450, this means that it can be safely used alongside other drugs that are known to be metabolized by that particular system.
If you are looking for a stack that includes both the health benefits and the nootropic benefits, then Qualis is a good option. The list of side-effects of Huperzine A is incredibly short, and for the vast majority of people, it is generally recognized as safe.
It has been found to, on rare occasions, cause digestive upsets, dizziness, nausea, and headaches, as well as a decreased heart rate. However, these symptoms are not common, and trials have found that other more severe symptoms are even rarer.
As a supplement that is excreted through the kidneys unchanged, it is generally thought to be safe to take even when people are using other supplements or drugs. Indeed, the risk of clinically relevant drug interactions is something that is considered to be minimal, since the drugs are metabolized by different systems.
With that said, it is still important to discuss your plans to take Huperzine A with your doctor or pharmacist, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition that you are considering using it for. It has been found to have some benefits and to act on essential receptors for neuroprotective properties and seizure protection.
However, this does not mean that you should stop taking your other medication, especially if you have refractory epilepsy, Alzheimer's, or brain damage from infections or sepsis.
Huperzine A can impact nerve signaling, and can also affect the brain's ability to recover from injury. It is also useful for healthy people and is sometimes used by students as a way of improving concentration and memory.
There are many potential uses for it, and it is considered to be a safe treatment for the most part, especially since even higher doses are well tolerated, and the drug is directly excreted in urine.
Until more studies are conducted on it, however, we are unlikely to see it fall into mainstream use and take over from, say, generic Alzheimer's medications as a major treatment for the condition.
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