HUPERZINE A

OTHER NAME(S):

HupA, Huperzina A, Huperzine, Huperzine-A, Selagine, Sélagine.<br/><br/>

Overview

Overview Information

Huperzine A is a chemical extracted from the Chinese club moss plant. Although the makers of huperzine A start with the plant, the final product is isolated and highly purified in the lab. As a result, some people regard huperzine A as a drug and argue that it shouldn't be considered a dietary supplement.

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 huperzine A (Cerebra) with the brand names for unrelated prescription drugs such as celecoxib (Celebrex), citalopram (Celexa), and fosphenytoin (Cerebyx).

Huperzine A is commonly used by mouth to improve memory and mental function in people with Alzheimer's disease, other types of dementia, age-related memory loss, and other conditions.

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.

How does it work?

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. However, huperzine A might also have other effects. It seems to prevent death of some cells and it might prevent changes in cells by acting as an antioxidant.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Dementia. Taking huperzine A by mouth for up to 36 weeks may improve memory, mental function, and behavior in people with conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. The effects of huperzine A in people with dementia when used for longer than 36 weeks is unknown.
  • 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.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Cocaine addiction. Early research in a small number of people with cocaine addiction shows that taking huperzine by mouth might reduce some side effects of cocaine.
  • Mental impairment. Early research shows that taking huperzine A by mouth for 12 weeks might improve memory in adults with mild mental impairment.
  • Depression. Early research shows that taking huperzine A by mouth does not reduce feelings of sadness in people with depression. However, it might help memory.
  • A muscular disorder called myasthenia gravis. Early research shows that giving huperzine A as an injection into the muscle for 10 days may prevent muscle weakness in patients with myasthenia gravis and may have equal or longer lasting effects compared to the drug neostigmine.
  • Schizophrenia. Several studies show that taking huperzine A by mouth in addition to medications used for schizophrenia improves memory and some symptoms of schizophrenia. But these studies have been small and short-term. Larger, long-term studies are needed.
  • Age-related memory loss.
  • Increasing alertness and energy.
  • Protection from agents poisonous to nerves.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of huperzine A for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Huperzine A is POSSIBLY SAFE in adults when taken by mouth for a short period of time (less than 6 months). It can cause some side effects including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation, sweating, blurred vision, slurred speech, fainting, restlessness, loss of appetite, contraction and twitching of muscle fibers, cramping, increased saliva and urine, inability to control urination, high blood pressure, swelling, dizziness, inability to sleep, and slowed heart rate.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Huperzine A is POSSIBLY SAFE in children when taken by mouth for a short period of time (less than one month). Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking huperzine A if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Slow heart rate or other heart diseases: Huperzine A can slow the heart rate. This might be a problem for people who already have a slow heart rate or other heart conditions involving the heart rate. If you have heart disease, use huperzine A cautiously.

Epilepsy: Since huperzine A seems to affect brain chemicals, there is concern that it might make epilepsy worse. If you have a seizure disorder such as epilepsy, use huperzine A cautiously.

Gastrointestinal (GI) tract blockage: There is a concern that using huperzine A might make GI blockage worse. That is because huperzine A can increase mucous and fluid secretions in the intestine, causing "congestion." If you have a GI tract blockage, check with your healthcare provider before you use huperzine A.

Sores in the stomach or the first part of the small intestine (peptic ulcers): There is a concern that using huperzine A might make peptic ulcers worse. That is because huperzine A can increase mucous and fluid secretions in the stomach and intestine, causing "congestion." If you have peptic ulcers, check with your healthcare provider before you use huperzine A.

Lung conditions such as asthma or emphysema: There is a concern that using huperzine A might make asthma or emphysema worse. That is because huperzine A can increase mucous and fluid secretions in the lung, causing "congestion." If you have asthma or emphysema, check with your healthcare provider before you use huperzine A.

Urinary tract or reproductive system blockage: There is a concern that using huperzine A might make blockage of the urinary or reproductive system worse. That is because huperzine A can increase mucous and fluid secretions in these organs, causing "congestion." If you have a urinary tract or reproductive system blockage, check with your healthcare provider before you use huperzine A.

Interactions

Interactions?

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

!
  • Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs) interacts with HUPERZINE A

    Huperzine A contains chemicals that can affect the brain and heart. Some of these drying medications called anticholinergic drugs can also affect the brain and heart. But huperzine A works differently than drying medications. Huperzine A might decrease the effects of drying medications.<br/><br/> Some of these drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, and some medications used for allergies (antihistamines), and for depression (antidepressants).

  • Medications for Alzheimer's disease (Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors) interacts with HUPERZINE A

    Huperzine A contains a chemical that affects the brain. Medications for Alzheimer's disease also affect the brain. Taking Huperzine A along with medications for Alzheimer's disease might increase effects and side effects of medications for Alzheimer's disease.

  • Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs) interacts with HUPERZINE A

    Huperzine A contains a chemical that affects the body. This chemical is similar to some medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease and other conditions. Taking Huperzine A with these medications might increase the chance of side effects.<br/><br/> Some of these medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions include pilocarpine (Pilocar and others), donepezil (Aricept), tacrine (Cognex), and others.

Dosing

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For dementia: The most commonly used doses for people with Alzheimer's disease are 300-500 mcg daily. In people with other types of dementia, 100 mcg twice daily has been used.
  • For memory: 100 mcg twice daily has been used.
BY INJECTION:
  • For dementia: 30-50 mcg injected into the muscle twice daily by a healthcare provider has been used.

View References

REFERENCES:

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