Overview

Huperzine A is a chemical extracted from Chinese club moss or fir club moss plants. It can also be made in a laboratory.

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) and citalopram (Celexa).

Huperzine A is used to improve memory and mental function in people with Alzheimer disease or other types of dementia.

How does it work ?

Huperzine A increases levels of a chemical called acetylcholine. This seems to help in diseases that interfere with memory and thinking (dementia), and in the muscle disease, myasthenia gravis.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

  • Alzheimer disease. Taking huperzine A by mouth for up to 6 months may improve memory, thinking skills, and behavior in people with Alzheimer disease.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Cocaine use disorder. Early research in a small number of people shows that taking huperzine A by mouth might reduce some of the effects of cocaine.
  • Depression. Early research shows that taking huperzine A by mouth does not reduce feelings of sadness in people with depression.
  • Memory. Some research shows that taking huperzine A by mouth for 4 weeks improves memory in healthy adolescents who complain of memory problems.
  • An autoimmune disorder that causes muscle weakness and muscle fatigue (myasthenia gravis). Early research shows that giving huperzine A as an injection into the muscle for 10 days may prevent muscle weakness in people with myasthenia gravis.
  • Schizophrenia. Taking huperzine A by mouth in addition to conventional medications might improve memory and some symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • Dementia caused by reduced blood flow to the brain (vascular dementia). Taking huperzine A by mouth may improve thinking skills in people with this condition.
  • Decline in memory and thinking skills in older people that is more than what is normal for their age.
  • Mental alertness.
  • Protection from nerve gases and other nerve poisons.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of huperzine A for these uses.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Huperzine A is POSSIBLY SAFE for adults when taken for 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, cramping, inability to control urination, high blood pressure, dizziness, inability to sleep, and slowed heart rate.

Special Precautions and Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if huperzine A is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Huperzine A is POSSIBLY SAFE in children when taken by mouth for less than one month.

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. If you have heart disease, use huperzine A cautiously.

Seizure disorder (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.

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

Lung conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): There is a concern that using huperzine A might make asthma or COPD worse. That is because huperzine A can increase mucous and fluid secretions in the lung, causing "congestion." If you have asthma or COPD, 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 ?

    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.

    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.

    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

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For Alzheimer disease: The most commonly used doses are 300-500 mcg daily.
View References

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.