Huperzine capsule side effects and Alzheimer's symptoms,
how to use this brain enhancer
Huperzine A is an extract from a club moss (Huperzia serrata) that has been used for centuries in Chinese folk medicine. Huperzine's action has been attributed to its ability to strongly inhibit acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft. Acetylcholine is involved in memory and learning. By inhibiting the enzyme that breaks it down, more acetylcholine becomes available to stimulate neurons. Alzheimers disease is a condition where theres a relative shortage of acetylcholine.
Several studies have been done over the past few years with huperzine A both in China and the United States. These studies have shown that Huperzine A is many times more effective and selective than tacrine (a cholinesterase-inhibiting pharmaceutical drug) in inhibiting cholinesterase (Cheng 1996). Huperzine A has also been found to be beneficial in patients with Alzheimers disease. Scientists at Zhejiang Medical University, in Hangzhou, China administered 0.2 mg of huperzine A to fifty patients with Alzheimers disease for a period of eight weeks and compared the results to a group who received placebo pills (Xu 1995). The study was done in a double blind, placebo controlled and randomized manner. The results showed 58 percent of the patients treated with huperzine A had improvements in memory, cognition, and behavioral functions whereas only 36 percent of those on placebo improved. No severe side effects were found. Blood pressure, heart rate, electrocardiogram, electroencephalogram, liver and urine tests did not show any major abnormalities. The researchers say, "Huperzine A is a promising drug for symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer's disease."
Huperzine A may benefit those with Alzheimer's disease and perhaps also benefit older individuals with dementia. The role as a mind booster in younger individuals is not clear at this time.
Huperzine A has brain protective effects that go beyond the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase. Huperzine Acan improve the learning and memory deficiency in animal models and Alzheimer's disease patients. This herbal extract can modify beta-amyloid peptide processing, reduce oxidative stress, protect neurons against cell death, and regulate the expression and secretion of nerve growth factor (NGF) and NGF signaling.
Huperzine A for Alzheimer's disease
Researchers are trying to find out whether a compound derived from the Chinese club moss Huperzia serrata improves brain function in Alzheimer's patients. Huperzine A is a naturally occurring cholinesterase inhibitor that's commonly used in China to treat Alzheimer's. The Phase II clinical trial will enroll about 150 patients, age 55 and older, with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. According to Dr. Paul Aisen, leader of the new study and professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center's Memory Disorders Program, "Based on studies in China, huperzine A may be more effective and better tolerated than currently prescribed drugs for Alzheimer's disease. In addition, laboratory studies suggest that huperzine A may have unique effects that could slow down the progression of the disease." "This trial is essential to better understand the promise of huperzine A," Aisen said. "Though it is a rigorous placebo-controlled trial, all participants do receive the active medication. The first portion of the trial, lasting 16 weeks, includes a placebo arm, but all participants have the opportunity to take active huperzine A for at least eight months. The study, directed by Georgetown University researchers, is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Neuro-Hitech Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Huperzine Caution, side effects
High doses of huperzine may be toxic. Due to its strong anticholinesterase activity, huperzine could cause a cholinergic reaction. Side effects could include sweating, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and cramps.
Alternative to Huperzine A
There are several herbs that have an influence on memory, including Bacopa Monniera and the herb ginkgo biloba. In recent years, the most common drug treatment for Alzheimer's disease has been acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition. However, this single-target approach has limited effectiveness. Approaching the treatment of Alzheimer's disease from multiple areas may be more effective.
Q. Is Huperzine's effect cumulative?
A. Since it has a long half life, our best guess is that the effects are cumulative.
Q. I read a warning about anticholinergic drugs (or
nutrients) actually being a possible "cause" of memory loss and hallucinations.
I thought you might be able to tell me which are the anticholinergic supplements
any of us may be taking. I did notice that Vinpocetine and Huperzine A were two
of the nutrients which were mentioned as having this property. Interesting, that
these were two nutrients I have not been able to use for myself--one causing a
rash and I can't remember the problem with the other, so I had already dropped
those two some time ago. What other nutrients would he consider anticholinergic?
A. Huperzine A is a cholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it blocks an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, thus more acetylcholine stays in the body and brain. Galantamine falls in this category. An anticholinergic medication is a substance that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and the peripheral nervous system. Anticholinergics reduce the effects of acetylcholine on acetylcholine receptors in neurons. In other words, huperzine A is the opposite of an anticholinergic. Vinpocetine acts as a vasodilator, it dilates blood vessels.
Q. You might want to record a negative response from huperzine A. The comment was "Theoretically, Huperzine A may exacerbate gastrointestinal and urinary obstruction." I have much scar tissue already in my colon (around the ileocecal valve)--when taking huperzine A supplement, my eliminations became mostly liquid, making clear to me it was closing up in that area even more; so I dropped it, and am doing better again after a week or two.
Huperzine A is a cholinesterase inhibitor,
meaning it blocks an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter
acetylcholine, thus more acetylcholine stays in the body and brain.
Galantamine falls in this category. Galantamine is a modest
acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. I don't know why this is confusing me so
much, but I just needed clarification, because I have some galantamine on
hand, and don't know whether to use it or toss it! Perhaps I'm having a
problem with the two terms "anticholinergic" and "inhibitor," as they seem
to be saying the same thing to me.
An anticholinergic medication blocks the activity or production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and the peripheral nervous system. Atropine is an example of an anticholinergic medication. An acetylcholinesterase inhibitor is a medication or herbal extract that inhibits the cholinesterase enzyme from breaking down acetylcholine, thus increasing both the level and duration of action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. An anticholinergic medication has the opposite effect of a acetylcholinesterase inhibitor such as galantamine and huperzine A.
I'm getting good results taking a 50 mcg Huperzine A capsule along with Mind
Power Rx. What are your thoughts about that combo ?
It is possible that the effects of the huperzine A can accumulate over time and lead to excessive cholinergic activity. It may be a good idea to take breaks from use in order to prevent potential side effects.
Huperzine A extract 50 mcg. From what I have read this product is a moss extract from the Chinese Herb Huperzia Serrata. Other than the moss, rice flour and silicon dioxide, are there any other ingredients in this supplement and what is the capsule made from?
I would like more information on Huperzine Brain RX. My
mother has multi-fact dementia. I am giving her 50 mg of Huperzine a day. It
seems to be helping a little. However I would like her to be seen by a therapist
that could advise us more about this. I canít seem to find any help in England.
Do you know of any contacts?
Sorry, we do not. You may also wish to visit the web page on stroke that gives options for natural therapies.