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Huperzine A

Introduction

Huperzine A is a compound that comes from a type of moss. It has been used to improve brain function and slow signs of dementia. Huperzine A can be taken as a pill or powder. It can also be injected into the muscle by a healthcare provider.

Dosages

200 micrograms 2 to 4 times daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Alzheimer disease —likely to improve function when used with standard treatment A1-A6
  • Schizophrenia —likely to improve symptoms when used with standard treatment D1

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Cocaine use disorder B1
  • Mild cognitive impairment C1
  • Vascular dementia E1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe for most adults to take huperzine A in small doses for a short time, but nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may happen. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It also may not be safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.

 

References

A. Alzheimer Disease

A1. Li J, Wu HM, et al. Huperzine A for Alzheimer’s disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008;(2):CD005592.

A2. Yang G, Wang Y, et al. Huperzine A for Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. PLoS One. 2013;8(9):e74916.

A3. Laver K, Dyer S, et al. Interventions to delay functional decline in people with dementia: a systematic review of systematic reviews. BMJ Open. 2016 Apr 27;6(4):e010767.

A4. Perng CH, Chang YC, et al. The treatment of cognitive dysfunction in dementia: a multiple treatments meta-analysis. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 May;235(5):1571-1580.

A5. Liang J, Li J, et al. Identification of the optimal cognitive drugs among Alzheimer's disease: a Bayesian meta-analytic review. Clin Interv Aging. 2018 Oct 18;13:2061-2073.

A6. Cui CC, Sun Y, et al. The effect of anti-dementia drugs on Alzheimer disease-induced cognitive impairment: A network meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Jul;98(27):e16091.

B. Cocaine Use Disorder

B1. De La Garza R 2nd, Verrico CD, et al. Safety and Preliminary Efficacy of the Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitor Huperzine A as a Treatment for Cocaine Use Disorder. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 Sep 12;19(3):pyv098.

C. Mild Cognitive Impairment

C1. Yue J, Dong BR, et al. Huperzine A for mild cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Dec 12;12:CD008827.

D. Schizophrenia

D1. Zheng W, Xiang YQ, et al. Adjunctive huperzine A for cognitive deficits in schizophrenia: a systematic review and mate-analysis. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2016;31(4):268-295.

E. Vascular Dementia

E1. Hao Z, Liu M, et al. Huperzine A for vascular dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(2):CD007365.

Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 5/27/2020