Huperzia serrata

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.

 


Huperzia serrata can help with the following

Aging  


 


Mental  


Risks  


Key

May do some good
Likely to help

Glossary

Herbs

Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with one teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted. The high doses of single herbs suggested may be best taken as dried extracts (in capsules), although tinctures (60 drops four times per day) and teas (4 to 6 cups per day) may also be used.

Alzheimer's Disease

A progressive disease of the middle-aged and elderly, characterized by loss of function and death of nerve cells in several areas of the brain, leading to loss of mental functions such as memory and learning. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Microgram

(mcg): 1/1,000 of a milligram in weight.

BID

Twice per day.

Placebo

A pharmacologically inactive substance. Often used to compare clinical responses against the effects of pharmacologically active substances in experiments.

Acetylcholine

A neurotransmitter widely distributed in body tissues with a primary function of mediating synaptic activity of the nervous system and skeletal muscles.

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Chronic

Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.

Choline

A lipotropic substance sometimes included in the vitamin B complex as essential for the metabolism of fats in the body. Precursor to acetylcholine, a major neurotransmitter in the brain. Choline prevents the deposition of fats in the liver and facilitates the movement of fats into the cells. Deficiency leads to cirrhosis of the liver.

Dementia

An acquired progressive impairment of intellectual function. Marked compromise exists in at least three of the following mental activity spheres: memory, language, personality, visuospatial skills, and cognition (i.e., abstraction and calculation).

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