Huperzine A (HupA), an alkaloid found in the Chinese herb Huperzia serrata, is effective in improving cognitive and memory abilities in humans, including those with Alzheimer's disease. In China, where HupA is used for treating Alzheimer's and myasthenia gravis, medical scientists have studied its effects on the mental functions of elderly Alzheimer's patients.
60 patients aged 52 to 80 with impaired faculties were treated with synthetic HupA (200mcg BID) or placebo for 60 days. They were evaluated with psychological and physiological tests to determine their mental and physical health before and after the treatment. Based on four important psychological tests, including memory function, the improvement rate ranged from 43% to 70%.
The study also reconfirmed the previously demonstrated safety as well as efficacy of HupA. [Acta Pharmacol Sin 1999 Jun;20(6): pp.486-90]
While it is safe to boost acetylcholine levels by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase periodically, chronic use of Hup A could cause over-suppression of acetylcholinesterase and subsequent acetylcholine overload with unknown consequences. You can take huge amounts of acetylcholine precursors such as choline or GPC without fear of acetylcholine overload because you have acetylcholinesterase to degrade excess acetylcholine. If you block the body’s natural regulator of acetylcholine you may have a problem. As a caution, healthy people should not take Hup A more than twice per week, but it may be useful on a regular basis for preventing and treating early dementia and Alzheimer's disease.