Chinese club moss
Huperzine A is a substance purified from a plant called Chinese club moss. Although the makers of huperzine A start with a plant, their product is the result of a lot of laboratory manipulation. It is a highly purified drug, unlike herbs that typically contain hundreds of chemical ingredients. As a result, some people regard huperzine A as a drug, and they argue that it stretches the guidelines of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).
- 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.
- Huperzine A is used for Alzheimer’s disease, memory and learning enhancement, and 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.
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.
- Dementia: Some research suggests that taking huperzine A by mouth for up to 8 weeks may improve memory, mental function, and behavior in people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The long-term effects of huperizine A in people with these conditions is not yet known.
- Memory: Some research shows that taking huperzine A by mouth for 4 weeks improves the memory older children and teenagers who complain of memory problems.
- HupA, Huperzina A, Huperzine A, Huperzine-A, Selagine, Sélagine.
Be careful not to confuse huperzine A, which is also called selagine, with similar sounding medications such as selegiline (Eldepryl). Also be careful not to confuse one of the brand names for huperizine A (Cerebra) with the brand names for unrelated prescription drugs such as celecoxib (Celebrex), citalopram (Celexa), and fosphenytoin (Cerebyx).
Source: WebMD, “Huperzine A”, www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/