Huperzine-A is extracted from the Huperzia Serrata plant, a type of moss native to India and southeast Asia. Huperzia has a long history in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat age-related cognitive disorders, as well as memory impairment (1).
Huperzine-A is known as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, a compound that stops an enzyme from breaking down acetylcholine, the learning neurotransmitter (2). This effect results in increased amounts of acetylcholine available in the brain, having a positive impact on cognitive performance.
The main benefits of huperzine-A supplementation are improved memory and mental function, although It’s unlikely that huperzine-A is directly responsible for this, rather, it is used to increase neural choline levels which have may enhance cognitive function and confer neuroprotective effects in the brain. Additionally, research suggests that huperzine-A may have efficacy in ameliorating the negative consequences of Alzheimer’s disease and other related neurological disorders, though more evidence is needed to confirm these findings (3, 4). Huperzine-A may also be beneficial as a neuroprotective agent against beta-amyloid pigmentation (involved in the pathogenesis of numerous brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s), glutamate (known to induce cell death) and certain types of toxicity (5, 6).
The common dose range of huperzine-A is 50 - 200 mcg/day, and may be taken acutely, or divided into several smaller doses throughout the day (7). It is a water-soluble compound, so it does not need to be taken with food. The primary function of huperzine-A is its action as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor which helps increase amounts of choline or acetylcholine in the brain, which is associated with enhanced cognitive function and the synthesis of neural membranes.
Huperzine A is a compound known as a cholinergic, which means it increases levels of choline or acetylcholine in the brain. It can be taken synergistically with other known cholinergics like alpha-GPC, citocholine, or other compounds that enhance cognitive function or alertness like caffeine or theocrine (8). It is used in a variety of nootropic stacks as a cofactor to help increase choline in the brain.