Huperzine A

  • Huperzine A is a naturally derived nootropic alkaloid compound extracted from Chinese club moss. 
  • Chinese club moss has been used for centuries in China as a component in traditional medicine.
  • The extract has been prescribed for treating Alzheimer's Disease in clinical practice for over thirty years in China [4]. In the USA, Huperzine A is a nutritional supplement for enhancing memory.
  • Several studies indicate its ability to support learning, memory, neuroplasticity, and executive function.
  • Huperzine A is a reversible acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitor, which means it prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine, boosts memory, and supports long term brain health.


Huperzine A Sources

Huperzine A is a chemical compound known as an alkaloid. It is derived from the club moss Huperzia serrata, which is a member of the Lycopodium genus. [1] It was first isolated in the 1940s.

It is a compound extracted from the herbs of the Huperziceae family. It is known as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which means that it stops an enzyme from breaking down acetylcholine which results in increases in acetylcholine, known for its role in maintaining and enhancing memory. 


Chemically speaking, Huperzine A has been known to inhibit the enzyme acteylcholinesterase. This binding results in the inhibition of the enzyme, thereby increasing the amount of acetylcholine available in a neuronal synapse.[2]

It has been shown that after ingestion, it takes about 1 hour for huperzine A to reach peak levels in the bloodstream. [3]

Demonstrated Effects

Worldwide studies have shown that Huperzine A supports learning and memory by protecting acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that acts as a messenger molecule in the brain. 

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial students were given either huperzine A or a placebo for 4 weeks. Students using Huperzine A scored higher on memory tests than those who took the placebo. [5]

Side Effects 

Side effects are rare, but in limited cases, side effects of Huperzine A can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.[1] These side-effects are associated with significantly higher doses than are typical in most dietary supplements.


Huperzine A is approved as a dietary supplement component under provisions of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. Huperzia serrata, its source plant has for centuries been widely consumed as a dietary supplement for its beneficial cognitive effects.  

Published Research

  1. Yang, G., Wang, Y., Tian, J., & Liu, J. P. (2013). Huperzine A for Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. PloS one, 8(9), e74916.
  2. Morasch, K. C., Aaron, C. L., Moon, J. E., & Gordon, R. K. (2015). Physiological and neurobehavioral effects of cholinesterase inhibition in healthy adults. Physiology & behavior, 138, 165-172.
  3. Li, Y. X., Zhang, R. Q., Li, C. R., & Jiang, X. H. (2007). Pharmacokinetics of huperzine A following oral administration to human volunteers. European journal of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, 32(4), 183-187.
  4. Li, J., Wu, H. M., Zhou, R. L., Liu, G. J., & Dong, B. R. (2008). Huperzine A for Alzheimer's disease. The Cochrane Library.
  5. Sun Q., et. Al. (1999). Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, 7, 601—603.