Huperzine A is a rocket of a nootropic that’s all natural and great for your brain health. But how effective is it? Are there any side effects to worry about? Our nootropics expert James Dixon gives his own account of what it’s like taking Huperzine A.
Are you looking for a natural and effective way to enhance your cognitive function whilst keeping your brain young? Huperzine A may well be the answer you’re looking for. It’s a pretty powerful little supplement that has been making waves in the nootropic world, where it is fast becoming renowned for its potential benefits to your brain function and energy levels.
I have recently given it a go myself – something I was excited to do, as I’ve long been into nootropics, trialling a wide range of varying shapes and sizes. Today, I want to share my personal experience with Huperzine A and shed light on the noticeable effects it had on my mental clarity, memory recall, energy levels, and ability to concentrate for extended periods.
Please, join me on this journey as we explore the many splendid benefits that Huperzine A has to offer, as we delve into how it can potentially open up your own cognitive potential.
What is Huperzine A?
Huperzine A is a naturally occurring sesquiterpene alkaloid compound.
It’s derived from two types of moss plants: Chinese club moss (or Huperzia serrata, the most common form that you’ll see) and fir clubmoss (Huperzia selago, a lesser known and more seldom used variety). Both have long, rich histories of use in traditional forms of Chinese medicine, where they have been used for centuries to treat various conditions. These include the likes of fever, inflammation, and cognitive impairment.
The extraction process involves isolating and purifying Huperzine A from the moss plants. It typically involves harvesting the plants, drying them, and then extracting the compound using solvents. The extracted Huperzine A is then further purified before being used in dietary supplements or medications – indeed, it’s common enough to see it included in some of the better nootropic supplements out there.
There is good reason for this. Huperzine A really does seem to help in bolstering your cognitive function. How? Specifically, by increasing acetylcholine in the brain.
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in cognitive function, including learning, memory, and attention. By blocking acetylcholinesterase, a protein that breaks down acetylcholine, Huperzine A can increase acetylcholine levels and improve cognitive function.
It seems to check out – as we’ll see below, it certainly seems to work very well.
Huperzine A may also have other potential health benefits, such as protecting the brain from damage caused by oxidative stress and reducing inflammation. Some research suggests that Huperzine A may even have anti-tumor properties and could help prevent certain types of cancer. We’ll go into this in more detail below, however.
Do note that Huperzine is no miracle cure. It’s a supplement, there to supplement a healthy diet and lifestyle. While there is plenty of evidence that shows it can work wonders for you, don’t rely on it in isolation. Additionally, if you’re suffering from any kind of cognitive impairment – or think that you might be – it’s vital you check in with your healthcare provider. They will be able to run suitable diagnostics and help you to come up with a comprehensive treatment plan.
The benefits of taking Huperzine A
I certainly found myself benefiting from using Huperzine A for a few months, as we’ll see below. This is reasonable enough – there are plenty of potential benefits associated with it, all of which revolve very nicely around cognitive function and broader brain health and wellbeing.
Some of the potential benefits of regular Huperzine A use include:
Improved memory function
Huperzine A offers potential benefits in improving memory function both in healthy individuals and in those suffering with various forms of cognitive impairment. Plenty of studies have linked Huperzine A use with improvements to memory.
For instance, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials concluded that Huperzine A could improve cognitive function, daily living activity, and global clinical assessment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The study flagged up relatively few and mild adverse effects with Huperzine A use (more on this below), making it a perfect augment to existing treatment plans.
Another found that Huperzine A gave significant benefits to cognitive function compared with a placebo and as measured by Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), among other cognitive tests. The results showed improvements in memory and cognition in participants taking Huperzine A.
Increased alertness and focus
I certainly found myself far more focused and alert when taking Huperzine A for a few months (see below). This may well be because Huperzine A has been found to increase the levels of acetylcholine in the brain, as above. This in turn is thought to allow for increased alertness and focus.
Acetylcholine is an incredibly important neurotransmitter – it’s involved in various cognitive processes, including learning, memory, and attention. By inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, also as above, Huperzine A may contribute to higher levels of acetylcholine maintained in the brain. This should lead to improved cognitive function, including enhanced focus, attention, and mental clarity.
Increased acetylcholine levels can also have a positive impact on overall brain health. Acetylcholine is involved in the formation and consolidation of memories, and it plays a crucial role in the functioning of the hippocampus (a region of the brain central to learning and memory).
Brain cell protection
Huperzine A has been shown to have neuroprotective effects against oxidative stress and inflammation. These processes are both central to age-related cognitive decline and the development of various neurological disorders.
We suffer from oxidative stress when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidant defenses in the body, as the loose free radicals damage the body’s cells – including, of course, our brain cells. Huperzine A has some pretty potent antioxidant properties – it can help to scavenge free radicals, thus protecting us against oxidative stress.
Inflammation also greatly contributes to cognitive decline and neurodegeneration. Chronic inflammation in the brain can damage neurons and disrupt normal brain functioning. Huperzine A has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties – it should in theory help to reduce inflammation in the brain.
Together, these neuroprotective effects suggest that Huperzine A may have potential for preventing cognitive decline and potentially slowing the progression of neurodegenerative disorders. However, further research is needed to fully understand the extent of these effects, as well as the appropriate dosage, duration, and potential side effects of Huperzine A supplementation.
Potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Following on from this, Huperzine A has been studied for its potential benefits in improving symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, including most importantly to memory function. Research suggests that it may positively impact cognitive performance and memory in those suffering with either.
One study found that taking Huperzine A for up to 6 months might improve memory, thinking skills, and behavior in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Another study suggested that Huperzine A showed a significant beneficial effect on cognitive function in terms of improvement in measures such as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Hastgawa Dementia Scale (HDS), and Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS).
Though thankfully I don’t suffer with anything like dementia or Alzheimer’s, these findings very much chime with my own experience – as you’ll see below, I experienced some genuinely terrific benefits to my memory and ability to think clearly, with no brain fog, whilst taking it.
Potential side effects and interactions
There isn’t too much danger involved with taking Huperzine A, luckily – it’s generally considered safe when taken within common recommended dosage ranges. As below, I certainly didn’t have any kind of adverse experiences when taking it.
This said, there are a couple of potential side effects and interactions involved with Huperzine A use. These can include:
Nausea and vomiting
These are common side effects that may occur within the first few hours of taking Huperzine A. They are usually mild and will typically improve pretty quickly – a matter of hours at most, generally speaking. You can decrease the likelihood of experiencing this by drinking plenty of water when you take your Huperzine A.
Similar to nausea and vomiting, frequent bowel movements or loose stools can occur within the first few hours of taking Huperzine A. Diarrhea usually resolves itself on its own, but it is important to drink enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Contact your healthcare provider if symptoms persist, though they shouldn’t.
Huperzine A may cause excessive sweating in some people. Sweating is typically associated with an increased heart rate and changes in body temperature. It may be notable even when you’re not performing any intense physical activity, such as exercise. The increase in sweating often diminishes over time and may occur less frequently as your body adjusts to Huperzine A supplementation.
Personally, I’m both a particularly heavy sweater and particularly active, so I probably wouldn’t notice an increase unless it was pretty substantial – which it wasn’t when I trialed it. But still, symptoms should generally be mild and rare if they do occur.
Blurred vision and slurred speech
Both blurred vision and slurred speech may occur when taking Huperzine A. This is because it can affect nerve impulses that regulate muscle movement, leading to vision changes and slurring. These side effects usually occur within a few hours or days of beginning a course of Huperzine A supplementation and often go away without intervention.
As with other the side effects associated with Huperzine A, severity may vary between individuals and doses, but will typically be mild and short-lived at most. Again, contact your healthcare provider if symptoms persist.
Because Huperzine A can affect nerve impulses that regulate muscle movement, muscle twitching is often a side effect. With muscle twitching, we’re talking about involuntary and brief contractions or spasms of muscles.
It’s well worth noting that not everyone taking Huperzine A experiences these side effects – I didn’t. I’ve taken it on its own, as below, and as part of broader nootropic formulas, and I’ve never had an adverse reaction.
Huperzine A may interact with certain medications and supplements. Huperzine A has the potential to increase the effects of cholinergic drugs, which are commonly used for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cholinergic drugs work by increasing the levels of acetylcholine in the brain – as Huperzine A also affects acetylcholine levels, combining the two may lead to an excessive accumulation of acetylcholine. This can result in intensified cholinergic effects, including gastrointestinal disturbances, excessive salivation, or increased sweating.
In addition to this, Huperzine A may interact with medications that affect heart rate and blood pressure. It is important to note that Huperzine A has been reported to potentially increase heart rate and blood pressure, although the evidence here is really quite limited. If you are taking medications that influence cardiovascular function, such as beta-blockers or blood pressure medications, combining them with Huperzine A may lead to unpredictable effects. This interaction can potentially result in an irregular heartbeat, changes in blood pressure, or other cardiovascular complications.
As ever, you should always check in with your healthcare provider before beginning any new supplement regime, including Huperzine A. This is especially true for anybody with any kind of pre-existing medical concerns and anyone on any pre-existing medical regime.
Do also note that Huperzine A is not regulated by the FDA, and its long-term effects and interactions with other substances are not fully understood. This leaves us with a lot of unknowns thrown into the mix, as well as concerns over dosage and purity of products. Always try to go with reputable, thoroughly reviewed, third-party tested products to minimize any potential for risk.
What’s Huperzine A like to use?
Way back when nootropics were first gaining traction, I was pretty skeptical – about nootropics in general, and, specifically, the supposed benefits of any individual ingredients. This, of course, included Huperzine A. How can natural products help your cognitive health and function, I wondered?
My skepticism was short-lived. I’m now a regular nootropic user, have reviewed most of the market’s big hitters at one time or another, and am thoroughly sold.
This includes Huperzine A. I really, really like it. As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve used it in the past as part of broader nootropic formulas. However, for this review, I limited myself to Huperzine A and nothing but for twelve weeks – the ingredient in its purest state. The results were really quite lovely.
From the very beginning, I noticed subtle changes in my mental acuity and focus. My mind felt sharper, like a fog had been lifted, allowing me to approach pretty much anything (and everything) that I did with a newfound clarity. I quite often experience brain fog when I’m not on any kind of nootropic. Then, after a short while taking a good nootropic, this all clears.
It cleared on Huperzine A. The effects weren’t as dramatic as you might get with a more comprehensive formula. This is only natural. But they were still pretty decent – I can see why plenty of the big hitters use it.
This couples nicely with the main benefit I was looking for from Huperzine A – some kind of improvement in my ability to concentrate for longer time periods. Again, as a writer with thousands of words to write most days, the benefits to this are pretty clear – on any good nootropic, I can keep on going no matter how tight (or ferocious) a deadline.
Once more, though the results were less marked than a broader formula might offer, they were still pretty decent. I found it easier to remain focused on my work throughout the whole period, beginning after just a couple of days.
My memory recall leapt up a great deal, too. As a writer, this is incredibly important. Everything I needed – everything I wanted to write – was right there, readily accessed at a nanosecond’s notice. I also noticed a significant increase in my ability to retain and recall information, making my work much easier – as well as organizing my personal life, to be honest. And, not only have I been able to remember more, but my memory has also become clearer and more vivid.
Before taking nootropics, I often battled with fatigue and sluggishness throughout the day. I was constantly searching for ways to help boost my energy levels, from drinking too much caffeine (I’m a writer, after all – it’s what we do) to meditating and taking naps in the middle of the day.
Nootropics largely cleared this up – they at least mitigated a lot of the sluggishness and lethargy, giving me a good boost. Huperzine A didn’t go as far as most, more comprehensive formulas. Again, fair enough.
But still, thinking on what I was like before taking any kind of nootropic at all, Huperzine A certainly represents a great improvement. I experienced a renewed sense of vigor and energy throughout the day, even after long hours at work and thousands of words written. I was fresher, for longer, with far less tension courtesy of decreased caffeine intake.
This energy was far subtler than you might get from caffeine. There is no boost, no kick. Rather, Huperzine A gave me something like a sustained release effect. It’s a lower build, a longer lasting effect, with no crash at the end of it all.
Overall, the benefits gained from any good nootropic represent a game-changing boost to my work and personal life. With enhanced focus, I can get through my work much more efficiently and effectively. This all comes with Huperzine A, too, though with perhaps less of a kick than you might get if you pair it with added ingredients as part of a wide-ranging, comprehensive formula.
I should also add that I have not experienced any adverse effects from using Huperzine A. Although I was initially concerned about potential side effects, nothing really kicked off. There were no muscular concerns, no nausea, no headaches… nothing. I took the recommended dosage every day for the full twelve weeks and felt absolutely fine throughout – better than fine, in fact. I felt great.
My final thoughts
My experience with Huperzine A has been undeniably positive. Over the course of twelve weeks, it had almost as much of a transformative effect on my mental clarity, memory recall, energy levels, and ability to focus and concentrate as plenty of nootropics with a dozen ingredients or more.
From the moment I started taking it, I noticed subtle but significant improvements in various aspects of my cognitive function. I got all the vigor I want from any good nootropic, allowing me to tackle anything with increased energy and focus, with no brain fog, no sluggishness, no lethargy (and far less coffee than I might otherwise normally drink).
Of course, it’s important to note that individual experiences may vary. You may not respond to it as well as I did. There may be better nootropic compounds out there for you. While my experience with Huperzine A has been positive, it’s always a good idea to approach these kinds of supplements with an informed and cautious mindset – the skepticism with which I once journeyed into nootropic use.
But this skepticism aside, I can confidently say that Huperzine A was a great help in bolstering my cognitive performance and overall brain health, my mood, my energy levels, and the focus and clarity with which I approached everything during those twelve weeks.
James Dixon is one of the key players in the SOMA Analytics’ team. He is a personal trainer and is educated to Masters level in Philosophy. He is a published author and is a keen advocate of high quality nootropic supplements.
James enjoys helping others to reach their peak both physically and mentally and believes that expressing his knowledge through his writing is an effective way to positively impact the wellbeing of others on a larger scale.