Huperzine-A is a healthy herb that was a major part of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s array of treatments and remedies. This naturally occurring compound is sourced from a specific type of club moss called Huperzia serrata.
In ancient medicines, this herbal compound was applied for treating blood disorders, fevers, and swelling. Modern research has shown it also has benefits for protecting the brain from harm and the effects of degenerative conditions.
What is Huperzine-A?
Huperzine-A is an alkaloid belonging to a class of organic compounds called sesquiterpenes. Within the human body, huperzine-A inhibits the action of acetylcholinesterase which works to breakdown the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Because acetylcholine plays a role in feeling alert, aroused, and rewarded, huperzine-A can lead to enhanced cognitive functions.1
Huperzine-A also functions as an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist which blocks glutamate from docking to the NMDA receptor. These compounds have long been used to treat painful conditions and the condition of Alzheimer’s characterized by excess glutamate.2
Benefits of Huperzine-A
Huperzine-A provides two important actions that help control the onset and conditions of Alzheimer’s. First of all, those suffering from Alzheimer’s have an increased amount of glutamate which can transport too much calcium to nerve endings and advance their damage. By blocking NMDA receptors, huperzine reduces damage and prevents the degeneration of nerve cells.
Furthermore, through acetylcholine in the brain and body, many of the symptoms and conditions of Alzheimer’s are treated. Acetylcholine affects plasticity, modulates the central nervous system, and plays a key role in the activation of muscles for motor control. Huperzine-A was found to treat the behavioral and cognitive conditions associated with this degenerative disease.3
Cognitive functions allow for the mind to absorb and retain information. This greatly depends on the structural integrity of the brain’s information centers. While cognitive capacity is highly versatile and effective during the formative years, it tends to decline after adulthood. It can degenerate into deficiencies if not properly supported.
The potent antioxidant capacity of huperzine-A has important benefits in maintaining these brain structures and the information stored in them.4 Simultaneously, the improved functions of acetylcholine in the brain and nervous system work to enhance cognitive functions. This includes things like the capacity to process apply and store information.5
Improved Memory Capacity
The potent properties of huperzine-A have been found highly beneficial in countering the cognitive dampening effects of Alzheimer’s. Moreover, reports show that the memory-boosting power of this herb has benefits for all users.
Reports from a middle school in China claim that huperzine-A supplementation increased memory skills in children facing learning difficulties.6 There have been many other claims made by users throughout the biohacking and nootropic communities that support this claim. Still, further research is needed to create a reliable memory boosting supplement with huperzine-A.
Lucid Dream States
Lucid dreaming is an enigmatic subject in the science of sleep and the psychology of dreams. Those who have achieved lucid dream states report having their full sensory array and powers of awareness present when interacting with their dreams.7
One of the most significant aspects of lucid dreaming that has been clinically observed is the increased levels of acetylcholine in the brain during this time. This allows for a highly active awareness during the sleeping cycle. This has led experts to suggest taking huperzine-A to allow the dream voyager to reach the lucid dream state.8
Risks and Side Effects of Huperzine-A
Huperzine-A supplementation is still being clinically studied for its full applications for human health. As yet, it has been deemed possibly safe for a healthy adult for a period no longer than three months.
Some of the negative side effects reported from huperzine-A supplementation include:
- Blurred vision
- Increased bodily fluids (mucus, saliva, urine, etc.)
- Difficulties urinating
- Loss of appetite
If any of these effects are experienced, discontinue supplementation and seek medical attention.
Special Precautions & Warnings
While huperzine-A has not been studied extensively in children, it has been deemed possibly safe if administered to a healthy child for no longer than one month.
There is insufficient data to determine the results huperzine-A could have on pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. Those with a child or expecting to become pregnant should consult their doctor to learn more about the risks and benefits of this drug.
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Huperzine has been found to slow the heart rate which may be troublesome for those with specific heart conditions. If you are unsure of the conditions of your heart and circulatory system, seek medical advice before proceeding with supplementation.9
Final Notes on Huperzine Supplementation
Most experts will suggest stacking huperzine-A with other nootropic substances to increase the all-around efficacy of the herb. Some of the most commonly recommended options include any of the racetams, alpha GPC, choline, or Noopept (Modafinil).
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