When it comes to popular all-natural supplements, Huperzine-A is a quickly gaining attention among fitness buffs, weightlifters, and even mainstream medical practitioners. It's been used to treat everything from muscle strains to schizophrenia, and it's even showing promise for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
What Is Huperzine-A?
Huperzine-A is a compound that's derived from a plant known as Chinese club moss, a.k.a. firmoss or Huperzia serrata - a native plant of Southeast Asia. In China, the plant is also called Qian Ceng Ta, and it's been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to help relax muscles and tendons, decrease bruising, and boost blood circulation.
Huperzine-A is a highly purified extract that works as a cholinesterase inhibitor - a compound that helps to boost levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn may assist with cognitive functioning and the prevention of cognitive decline. It has been shown to help increase levels of acetylcholine, a chemical that's contained within nerves to facilitate neuro-transmission between the brain, muscles, and other tissues in the body.
Studies in China have found that Huperzine-A supplements improved the memory of middle-school students who claimed to have memory issues, although a clinical trial of Huperzine-A on early-stage Alzheimer's patients showed no benefit. By contrast, a similar study conducted in China by scientists at Zhejiany Medical University found that Huperzine-A produced positive results in the memory, cognitive functioning, and behavior of Alzheimer's patients, with no severe side effects reported.
Recommended Dosages and Side Effects
At this time, there are no standardized recommended dosages for the use of Huperzine-A available from the FDA or any other government agency; therefore, people who are interested in taking Huperzine-A should consult with their medical provider and follow the dosage directions provided by the manufacturer.
Most research studies using Huperzine-A have used daily doses ranging for 50 mcg twice daily up to 200 mcg twice daily.
It's important to note that because Huperzine-A contains a chemical that impacts neurotransmitters, it may have an adverse effect if taken in combination with other medications that have a similar effect on the brain and nervous system.
Reported side effects from Huperzine-A users include nausea, diarrhea, sweating, and restlessness; as well as cramping, urinary incontinence, elevated blood pressure, and decreased heart rate.
Products That Contain Huperzine-A
A growing number of bodybuilding and alternative health products now contain Huperzine-A, including:
Source Naturals - Huperzine-A - 200 mcg tablets
Absorb Health - Huperzine-A - 200 mcg capsules (contain maltodextrin, silica)
GNC Herbal Plus Huperzine-A 50 mcg (contains Dicalcium Phosphate, Cellulose) - Vegetable Cellulose Capsule
Life Extension Huperzine-A 200 mcg - Vegetarian capsules, includes maltodextrin, microcrystalline cellulose, stearic acid, silica
Solaray Huperzine-A 50 mcg gelatin capsules (contain silica magnesium, stearate, gotu kola, and lecithin)