Huperzine A is a naturally occurring sesquiterpene alkaloid compound found in the plant firmoss Huperzia serrata also known as Chinese club moss.
In the US, Huperzine A is sold as a dietary supplement for memory support. The botanical has been used in China for centuries for the treatment of swelling, fever and blood disorders. Clinical trials in China have shown it to be effective in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and enhancing memory in students.
As well as being used for Alzheimer's disease Huperzine A is used for memory and learning enhancement, and general age-related memory impairment. It is also used for treating a muscle disease called myasthenia gravis, for increasing alertness and energy, and for protecting against agents that damage the nerves such as nerve gases. Products that combine huperzine A with certain drugs used for treating Alzheimer’s disease are being studied. These “hybrid” products are of interest because they may be effective at lower doses and, therefore, cause fewer side effects. One hybrid, called huprine X, combines huperzine A with the drug donepezil. Another hybrid being studied contains huperzine A and the drug tacrine.
Mechanism of benefits
Huperzine A is thought to be beneficial for problems with memory, loss of mental abilities (dementia), and the muscular disorder myasthenia gravis because it causes an increase in the levels of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is one of the chemicals that our nerves use to communicate in the brain, muscles, and other areas.
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