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Huperzine-A: The Proven Therapeutic Treatment for Memory Loss

Adolescent students also benefit from Huperzine-A

In a study to determine the effects of Huperzine-A on memory and learning in adolescents, Chinese researchers selected 34 matched pairs of normal middle school students whose only complaints were of poor memory and difficulty in learning.

In a double-blind trial, one member of each pair was given 100 mcg of Huperzine-A twice daily for four weeks, while the other member received the placebo. The students' memory quotients were measured before and after the trial, and their academic performance in their Chinese, English, and mathematics lessons was also monitored. At the end of the study, the Huperzine-A group scored significantly higher than the control group on standard memory tests. They also did significantly better in their Chinese and English lessons. No side effects of any kind were noted.13

The advantages of Huperzine-A over prescription drugs

Animal research suggests that Huperzine-A's ability to preserve acetylcholine may be greater than that of the two FDA-approved Alzheimer's drugs tacrine and donepezil. Like these drugs, Huperzine-A works by disrupting acetycholinesterase, yet it seems to do it more effectively and with fewer side effects.14 Huperzine-A has a longer duration of action, is absorbed more quickly, penetrates the brain more rapidly, has little or no side effects, and does not produce liver toxicity.15

Additionally, in a study comparing the toxicity of Huperzine-A versus tacrine (the Alzheimer's drug commonly known as Cognex™) on the liver of laboratory animals, only tacrine was found to cause liver toxicity.16

What is the suggested dosage?

The doses of Huperzine-A used in clinical studies range from 50 micrograms to 400 micrograms daily.

An important consideration is the quality and form of the Huperzine product you purchase. While Huperzine-A in a highly purified form has been used in the vast majority of research, Huperzine-A occurs naturally in extremely small quantities in the moss it is extracted from.

As you can imagine, extracting pure Huperzine-A is extremely difficult and expensive, while crude moss extracts cost MUCH less to manufacture. In fact, pure Huperzine-A is the most expensive dietary supplement ingredient in the world!

Most products on the market are simply crude moss extracts that contain only a low percentage of Huperzine-A. Additionally, these extracts naturally contain many other alkaloids related to Huperzine-A that have not been studied in humans or proven safe.17 These products may be labelled as containing only Huperzine-A, but actually are giving you a variety of these related alkaloids from crude moss extracts, rather than a known amount of actual Huperzine-A.

The safety of pure Huperzine-A has been established in numerous human clinical and laboratory studies, but the safety of crude moss extracts containing a low percentage of Huperzine-A has not. Because all of the impressive studies have used pure Huperzine-A, this is the preferred form of Huperzine for supplementation.

How safe is Huperzine-A?

Medications that prevent acetylcholine breakdown often produce side effects, including nausea, vomiting, excess saliva and tear production, and sweating. However, while dizziness was reported in a few people in one study, and mild insomnia and water retention in another, no severe side effects have been reported in human trials using Huperzine-A. The most common side effect is usually mild nausea, and all of these minor side effects are dose related and can be avoided by slowly increasing the daily dosage of Huperzine-A. However, if side effects continue to occur, reduce dosage until side effects disappear.

Huperzine should not be used by children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers.

Brain boosters with significant research

As a treatment for Alzheimer's disease, dementia, age-associated memory impairment, and senile memory disorders, Huperzine-A has shown some impressive results with virtually no side effects. With the ensuing epidemic of memory related disorders, it's important to do everything we can to protect our delicate brain cells and prevent age-related declines in neurotransmitters and free radical protection. In addition to Huperzine-A, Vitamins C and E, ginkgo biloba, phosphatidylserine, vinpocetine, acetyl-l-carnitine, lipoic acid, bacopa, pregnenolone, and glycerylphosphorylcholine (GPC) are among the growing list of safe and effective therapeutic agents shown to improve memory and protect the brain from the devastating effects of free radical damage and diseases such as Alzheimer's.

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Editor's Note:

The natural health solutions described in these article are available through many on-line retailers including those listed below. By clicking these links you help support the important alternative health research we provide.

Visit NutriStand – The Nutrition Newsstand from the Supplement Man for Science-Based Nutritional Supplements!

Visit International Antiaging-Systems for hard to find therapies. They specialize in Tomorrow's Treatments Today™.

Visit – a great way to find competitive deals on supplements offered by many different manufacturers.

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These articles are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a physician before embarking on a dietary supplement program.


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  2. John Fauber. "Lifetime Risk of Stroke and Alzheimer's," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 13, 2003 

  3. Kozikowski AP, Tückmantel W. Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Clinical Efficacy of the Chinese Nootropic Agent Huperzine A., 26 June 2000 

  4. Jiang H, Luo X, Bai D. Progress in clinical, pharmacological, chemical and structural biological studies of huperzine A: a drug of traditional Chinese medicine origin for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Curr Med Chem. 2003 Nov; 10(21): 2231-52.

  5. Picoulin, Kathryn, Reversing Alzheimer's Naturally. 2002, Auburn Hill Publishing Co., Ca.

  6. Zangara A. The psychopharmacology of huperzine A: an alkaloid with cognitive enhancing and neuroprotective properties of interest in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun; 75(3): 675-86. 

  7. Xu SS, Gao ZX, Weng Z, Du ZM, Xu WA, Yang JS, Zhang ML, Tong ZH, Fang YS, Chai XS, et al. Efficacy of tablet huperzine-A on memory, cognition, and behavior in Alzheimer's disease. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1995 Sep; 16(5): 391-5.

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  9. Xiao XQ, Yang JW, Tang XC. Huperzine A protects rat pheochromocytoma cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced injury. Neurosci Lett. 1999 Nov 12; 275(2): 73-6.

  10. Shang YZ, Ye JW, Tang XC. Improving effects of huperzine A on abnormal lipid peroxidation and superoxide dismutase in aged rats. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1999 Sep;20(9):824-8.

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  13. Sun QQ, Xu SS, Pan JL, Guo HM, Cao WQ. Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. Acta Pharmacol Sin 1999 Jul; 20(7): 601-3. 

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  16. Ma XC, Xin J, Wang HX, Zhang T, Tu ZH. Acute effects of huperzine A and tacrine on rat liver. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2003 Mar; 24(3): 247-50. 

  17. Takayama H, Katakawa K, Kitajima M, Yamaguchi K, Aimi N. Ten new lycopodium alkaloids having the lycopodane skeleton isolated from Lycopodium serratum THUNB. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2003 Oct;51(10):1163-9. 

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