Huperzine A is an alkaloid formed from the extraction of a plant called Huperzia serrate.
Due to its properties, it’s used among people burdened with mental effort, such as students, but also people who perform mental work, where the speed of finding words to the context, the ability to focus and the ease of remembering information are important.
It belongs to the group of nootropic substances of the cholinergic genus and has the ability to improve cognitive functions by inhibiting the enzyme, which is responsible for the degradation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is largely responsible for the ability to learn, remember and match facts.
What are nootropics? How does nootropics work?
In order to realize the impact of nootropic substances on the body, it’s necessary to read the classification criteria . They are:
- Protection of the brain against mechanical and chemical damage
- Improving learning ability
- Better memory
- Stimulation of creating new neuronal connections
- Lack of side effects typical for psychoactive substances
The mechanism of action of huperzine A lies in the reversible inhibition of the action of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (by 20-30% ), which is responsible for the degradation of acetylcholine. As a result, more neurotransmitter is maintained in use. This way, Huperzine A affects neurogenesis, however, it’s not the only mechanism on this level, because nerve growth factor (NGF) is activated . In a way, the mechanism of action of this substance is related to drugs used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, such as galantamine, donepezil, tacrine, but without their side effects and with much more organism-friendly pharmacokinetics .
Huperzine na learning skills
By inhibiting the action of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, huperzine A increases the concentration of acetylcholine in the brain. This neurotransmitter is responsible for transmitting information between neurons and as confirmed by many studies is essential in the formation of memory. It owes its property to strengthening the cortical control system .
In addition, many studies have shown that acetylcholine is responsible for regulating the neural network at the learning stage. The learning process requires the cooperation of many paths of information transmission by neurons in order to code the memorized information – it’s an acetylcholine responsible for the coherence and efficiency of this process .
Huperzine A also influences the activity of GABAergic pathways, which also affects the ability to focus and translates into ease of learning .
Huperzine and memory
Due to the fact that huperzine A causes more acetylcholine activity in the brain, it may have its application in the process of memory recovery. Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are diseases in which memory is lost. It’s here that Huperzine A finds its application – which has been verified in many studies.
Dementia includes a number of factors related to the work of the brain – from memory loss, coordination to a decrease in motor function. People with dementia usually have a lower reduced standard of living. Huperzine A has an effect on cortical activity (reducing its desynchronization) and subcortical activity, which helps to improve memory and reduces memory loss .
Apart from the fact that Huperzine A influences the activity of enzymes related to the formation of neural connections, such as NGF or p75NTR, it’s most likely also affecting the increase of mitochondrial efficiency, as is currently supposed, which may also explain its effectiveness in improving mental performance .
What dose of Huperzine A do people with Alzheimer’s disease have to take to improve their memory? In one study  positive results (reduction of free oxygen radicals causing pathological changes) were obtained with a dosage of 200 mcg x2 per day for a period of 60 days, so it may be a determinant. It’s worth mentioning that there were no side effects with this dosage, except a few cases of nausea.
In the context of improving memory, it’s worth mentioning the study  on young people – students – with a dose of 100 mcg per day for 4 weeks which improved their ability to memorize information and to learn from the placebo group (115 +/- 6 points in the group with huperzine A vs. 104 +/- 9 in the placebo group at the end of the experiment).
Huperzine and neuroprotective actions
Huperzine A has neuroprotective activity against toxins in free radicals.
Over-stimulation with glutamate can lead to neuronal death, which is associated with neurotoxicity. Huperzine A, when used appropriately earlier (saturation phase), allows to preserve a larger number of neurons that have been exposed to a large charge of glutamate .
Certain proteins, such as beta-amyloid (a prion-like neurotoxic effect), correlate with the formation of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease in that they cause pressure on blood vessels and impede the flow of substances from the blood into the cells . Huperzine A reduces the rate of accumulation of these proteins in the brain and the negative effects associated with them . In addition, it also reduces the neurodegenerative effect on the brain of the substance as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and reduces the rate of cell death (apoptosis) .
Huperzine and neurogenesis
Interesting here is the study, where the increase in neuronal proliferation was noted, which resulted in their higher accumulation, at low doses of Huperzine A, where higher levels of this phenomenon were suppressed . Huperzine A significantly increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus, which is the centre of our brain memory.
How much Huperzine to take?
Huperzine A is soluble in water and can be used both on an empty stomach and taken with food – it does not affect its bioavailability .
It should be taken at earlier times of the day, as it may disturb sleep.
The half-life of the substance is 12 +/- 2h , so Huperzine A used every day will tend to accumulate in the body, which is worth taking a correction with it. Therefore, it’s recommended to use it cyclically, e.g. 2-4 weeks he and take a break of the same length. It’s worth noting that the pharmacokinetics may vary depending on the dose used.
Huperzine A increases its concentration after oral administration from 5-10 minutes and reaches its peak concentration in around 60 minutes [16, 17]. It’s expelled slowly.
The standard dosage is 50-200 mcg per day and it’s preferred to divide the dose into several during the day. However, at higher doses in humans, on the order of 540 mcg, no side effects were noted in the study .
Huperzine A does not show any tendency to build tolerance .
When combined with acetyl cholinergic preparations, such as alpha-GPC, citicoline, acetyl L-carnitine or racetamines, lower doses, like 50 mg, are worth considering due to the synergy effect that can lead to the effects of high doses of both substances side effects typical of excess acetylcholine.
Side effects of Huperzine, that occurred in the study participants :
– Digestive disorders
– Decreased heart rate
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