Huperzine A’s brain boosting properties are partially owed to the fact that it’s rapidly absorbed into our brain for neuroprotection and neurogenesis. Compared to donepezil(commonly used in late stage Alzheimer’s for cognitive performance) and tacrine(a centrally acting cholinesterase inhibitor), HupA possesses a longer duration of action and higher therapeutic index .
Extracted from the firmoss huperzia serrata and from other similar species, huperzine A is an alkaloid compound. It mostly contains basic nitrogen atoms. Huperzine A in its natural form has been used by the Chinese as an herbal remedy for centuries. Alkaloids do exhibit a bitter taste so keep that in mind when stacking or supplementing individually. Alkaloids are commonly used in the formation of drugs as salts to aid everything from arrhythmia to antihypertensives and vasodilators. They are widely popular in the drug world.
Cholinesterase inhibitors like huperzine A stop the action of cholinesterase so that acetylcholine levels are able to rise. This is desirable when people have a deficit of acetylcholine which has been associated with memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients and students with learning difficulties.
For clarity, cholinesterase is an enzyme that rapidly breaks down acetylcholine. It does so for good reason as it stops over-stimulation of postsynaptic muscles and nerves. It is a protective mechanism when over-stimulation is undesirable.
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BENEFITS OF HUPERZINE A
- Promote Memory
- Sleep Recovery
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Promote Memory With Huperzine A Supplementation
Huperzine A works on memory by improving the activation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine making it a very effective nootropic. It has an inhibitory effect on cholinesterase, an enzyme that interferes with the production and availability of acetylcholine.
It helps to promote memory by improving recall in students or anyone trying to study and learn new material. Studies show efficacy for its use in helping symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as well as age related cognitive decline. Students in particular have shown improved recall and retention with administration of huperzine A.
Performance in memory and learning was shown In a study of adolescent students given 50mcg of huperzine A twice per day. A group of 34 pairs of students complaining of memory inadequacy were divided into two groups by the psychological health inventory (PHI), similar memory quotient (MQ), sex and class. One group was administered HupA and the other a placebo consisting of starch and lactose. The group receiving HupA supplementation scored higher on the MQ and scores on their language lesson were elevated .
Additionally huperzine A’s effects on memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease have been studied extensively. Among 20 studies that included a total of nearly 2000 participants, researchers found evidence that huperzine A has a significant, beneficial effect on cognitive function measured by the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of supplementation . Improvements in memory and cognition have been shown across additional tests; Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS), Hastgawa Dementia Scale and the Activity of Daily Living (ADL) scale. All are used to measure quality of life aspects.
Psychotherapy and conventional methods show similar results to that of huperzine A. The big difference is the former is an intensive and very expensive process by analysis, the latter comes with a host of side effects. So if a nutrient can get you similar results to psychotherapy and drugs, consuming a natural compound may be preferred.
Neuroprotective Benefits Of Huperzine A Supplementation
Nootropics exhibit neuroprotective benefits and recent reports suggest that HupA could potentially reduce neuronal cell death caused by glutamate. Glutamate is the most common neurotransmitter in our nervous system, and accounts for 90% of synaptic connections in our brain.
Why is it beneficial for Huperzine A to alter or reduce glutamate?
The reason being is that when excess glutamate builds up outside of our cells or in the extracellular space it causes damage to our brain cells. Those suffering from disease or brain injury often end up with excess glutamate outside of their cells. Calcium is then able to enter these cells causing damage to neurons and eventually leading to excitotoxicity (cell death). Excessive amounts of intracellular (within cell) calcium damage mitochondria beyond repair and contribute to cell death. Mitochondria are microscopic organelles that are critical to cellular life by generating ATP from oxygen and nutrients. They are the power generators of our cells.
The impairment of glutamate uptake is another mechanism that is responsible for excitotoxicity and as part of the ischemic cascade is associated with intellectual disability, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, autism and ALS. Other researchers have also pointed to huperzine A’s ability to protect against organophosphate (OP) intoxication and again cite its effects on reducing glutamate induced cell death .
Neurogenesis Promoted By Supplementing With Huperzine A
A recent study conducted in 2013 found novel evidence to support hupA as a neuron generating medium.
Huperzine A promoted the proliferation of in vivo neural stem cells in the embryonic hippocampus and also increased newly generated cells in the subgranular zone (SGZ).
This is important because the subgranular zone is where adult neurogenesis occurs in the hippocampus. The other major zone of adult neurogenesis is the subventricular zone (SVZ). The authors of the study went on to proclaim that administration of Hup A significantly improved cell proliferation in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus .
The dentate gyrus receives and sends excitatory input. Throughout the brain, the dentate gyrus is unique, because adult neurogenesis takes place in this region. This is also where new neurons are generated and functionally integrated throughout life .
You may remember the hippocampus or remember because of the hippocampus. It’s part of the limbic system and with our current understanding it is the center of memory, emotion and the ANS (autonomic nervous system). The ANS is our non conscious operating system that manages breathing, circulation and digestion.
Sleep Recovery Promoted By Huperzine A Supplement
While we sleep, our brain will use nootropic compounds like huperzine A to undergo neuroprotective mechanisms that clean up cellular debris that accumulates from normal chemical processes. Beta amyloid is an amino acid that can build up in our brain, sticking together to form chemical plaque that disturbs normal cognitive function. Hup A lowers beta amyloid induced mitochondrial swelling, and promotes ATP production within mitochondria. Results indicate that Hup A protects mitochondria against beta amyloid by preserving membrane integrity and improving energy metabolism . This is why Hup A supplementation for improved sleep quality can lead to better recovery.
For starters though, it's best to understand your sleep cycle...5 Stages of Sleep: An In Depth Look Into Your Sleep Cycle
Pollution from modern industry and automobiles can diminish air quality and lead to poor oxygen consumption. Any low or poorly oxygenated environment can lead to hypoxic induced oxidative stress, which damages tissues. Huperzine A has protective effects against oxidative cellular damage in brain tissue and can ameliorate spatial memory deficit in mammals .
Huperzine A exhibits novel neuroprotective effects outside of its strong inhibition of acetylcholinesterase.These effects include regulating β-amyloid precursor protein metabolism, protecting against β-amyloid-mediated oxidative stress and apoptosis(programmed cell death) . Again, these effects are positive because they may limit the negative impact of beta amyloid on cognitive function, reduce oxidative stress that damages tissue, and protect against cellular death.
STACKING WITH HUPERZINE A
Huperzine A is highly effective on its own, but further benefit can be achieved by combining a nootropic stack of Hup A with other potent cognitive promoters. Huperzine A is commonly stacked with a choline source and alpha GPC seems to be equally effective at enhancing memory, and improving stamina, energy, and neuroprotection.
Supplementing with alpha GPC can increase choline levels, which are lower than expected in the average individual. Increasing choline levels can lead to increased bioavailability of acetylcholine, which exhibits neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing effects. When combined, both Hup A and alpha GPC form a potent memory and neural recovery stack.
Racetams are also commonly stacked with Hup A for memory and cognitive performance, however racetams are more likely to have side effects like poor mental clarity, fogginess, headaches, and upset stomach. This is likely due to a lack of a choline source.
Ginkgo biloba has an excellent synergistic effect when taken with Hup A. Since NO(nitric oxide) is believed to play a major role in neuronal degeneration, taking ginkgo and hup A in combination was shown to block the inhibition of cell growth, and apoptosis caused by a NO precursor sodium, nitroprusside (SNP). These results suggest that inhibition of NO induced neurotoxicity may be one mechanism of ginkgo and Hup A as therapeutic agents for neurodegenerative diseases .
EGCG found in green tea furthers the effects of huperzine A’s ability to inhibit acetylcholinesterase leading to a greater availability of acetylcholine. EGCG can also greatly prolong the inhibitory time. EGCG was administered at 100mg/kg to two groups receiving 10 and 5mcg/kg of Hup A, and resulted in greater inhibitory effects. It’s thought that the improved transport of Hup A is a possible cause of the improved effect of EGCG on Hup A bioactivity . Thus EGCG advances the activity of Hup A within our body.
HUPERZINE A PROFESSIONAL RECOMMENDATION
Effective nootropic doses of huperzine A as low as 30mcg and as high as 400mcg have shown efficacy for memory improvement in those with Alzheimer’s and age related cognitive decline. 100mcg can be taken 2-4x per day for increasing desired effects for memory and cognitive performance.
400mcg doses are shown to be safe and effective. Although 200mcg doses taken twice daily for 16 weeks resulted in cognitive scores with no statistically significant difference compared to the 400mcg group. The group receiving 400mcg did experience improved cognition and activities of daily living.
In a recent meta analysis of 8 studies on Alzheimer’s disease(AD) and 2 studies on vascular dementia(VD), supplementation with huperzine A demonstrated significant improvement for those with AD and VD, and that longer durations of use, >24 weeks may result in even better efficacy for those with AD .
SIDE EFFECTS OF HUPERZINE A
A review of 20 RCTs (randomized control trials) which receive the highest grade of efficacy for cause and effect relationships, showed no trials reporting any sign of severe adverse effects from supplementation with HupA. Both animal and human safety evaluations have found hupA to be devoid of unexpected toxicity .
Excessive doses of Hup A can potentially lead to GI distress; upset stomach, diarrhea, indigestion, vomiting, headache, and nausea. Muscle twitching, slurred speech, elevated blood pressure, and incontinence have occurred. Consult with your physician prior to taking a Hup A supplement if you have heart disease or specifically a slow heart rate as Hup A can potentially lower your heart rate further. If you experience any of these symptoms simply discontinue use of Hup A.
There is not enough current research to determine if Hup A is safe for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Use in children has been deemed possible safe when taken for less than one month.
RECAP OF HUPERZINE A
Huperzine A is a nootropic that shows incredible efficacy for improving memory and recall for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, but also demonstrates powerful neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties for everyday use in healthy individuals. It has been posited that supplementing your diet with therapeutic doses of Hup A could help stave off cognitive decline as it pertains to aging and improve short and long term recall.
- Improves memory by improving activation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine
- Improved memory and learning in students and adolescents
- Neuroprotective by reducing neuronal cell death from excess glutamate
- Neurogenesis: cell proliferation in the hippocampus
- May reduce beta amyloid plaque that damages cognitive function
- Stack with ginkgo, alpha gpc, and EGCG from green tea for max effects
Where can I buy Huperzine A supplements?
You can find huperzine A in the supplements aisle of any health food store or purchased through online retailers such as Amazon.
If you're interested in diminishing anxiety and improving sleep quality via neuroprotection, and neurogenesis, Momental MEND blends hup A with additional all-natural nutrients that further promote physical and cognitive recovery at rest and while you sleep.