The Nootropics Library: Huperzine A

Everything You Need To Know About Huperzine A

General Information

Scientific Name: Huperzia serrata

Any Other Names: Chinese Club Moss

Primary Constituents: Huperzine A

Country or Region of Origin: India and Southeast Asia

Known Uses: Memory, Cognitive Function, Improved Mood, Helps with Dementia and Alzheimer’s, Helps with Myasthenia Gravis


General History & Introduction

Huperzine A is the main constituent from the club moss plant, Huperzia serrata (Zangara, 2003). The plant has been medicinally used for centuries throughout Chinese medicine (2003). Its suggested ability to enhance cognitive ability and its proven ability on memory have made it a popular nootropic in Western cultures as well.  It is most popularly used for its cognitive bolsters; however, it has been an especially well-documented herbal aid for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients (Du et al., 2017).  Although, it is more than arguable to state that the herb has an ability to improve memory and perhaps cognitive function for all healthy adults (Beshara et al., 2019).

Nootropic Benefits of Huperzine A

Memory & Cognitive Enhancement

Huperzine A has a long, traditional medicinal history throughout Chinese culture (Walker & Brown, 1998).  The herb is popular even in modern Chinese culture, where it is regularly served as an herbal tea purported to aid with memory and mental capacity. This tea is common in Chinatowns within American cities (1998). A lot of the herb’s suggested memory boosting benefits come from Huperzine’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (Zangara, 2003).  The herb also offers the brain excellent neuroprotective properties (2003). 


Huperzine A is especially useful for Alzheimer’s patients, in terms of treatment and slowing the progression of the disease (Beshara et al., 2019). A recent meta-analysis has revealed many clinical trials which support its positive effects on Alzheimer’s patients, as well as its efficacy as a memory-booster. Some of the clinical trials and studies within this meta-analysis have specifically outlined the herb’s ability to improve cognitive function and daily living activity (2019).  It is also an effective treatment for improving neurological and cognitive function after stroke (Du et al., 2017).

The herb’s medicinal values come from its AChE inhibitor properties (Zheng et al., 2016). AChE, or Acetylcholinesterase, is an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (2016). ACh is an important neurotransmitter when it comes to brain function. And improper ACh levels can have a huge negative impact on stress, ultimately inhibiting memory and cognitive function (Higley & Picciotto, 2014).

Fever & Inflammation

Huperzine A has a long history of being used as a treatment for fever and inflammation (Qian & Ke, 2014). There are many studies which propose sincere efficacy in the plant’s fever-reducing properties (Skolnick 1997). Modern studies suggest the herb boasts an ability to reduce chronic inflammation (Wang et al., 2009).  The moss has been proven to offer incredible anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties as well (Wang et al., 2008).



Many studies have been revealing the potential for Huperzine A to lessen the symptoms and effects of depression (Du et al., 2017).  It is clear that Huperzine A can regulate levels of neurotransmitters, specifically those which are able to thwart depression and depression-related behavior (2017).  The plant has a powerful ability to treat cognitive impairment as a result of major depressive disorder (Zheng et al., 2016).  Just like memory, Huperzine’s strength in defeating these ailments comes from its ability to inhibit AChE.  Essentially, it has been suggested that maintaining a proper balance of Ach levels in the brain reduces feelings of anxiety and depression (Higley & Picciotto, 2014).

Other Uses

Huperzine A has been proven effective for treating patients suffering from dementia and neurodegenerative diseases (Beshara et al., 2019). It has been shown to be helpful for those suffering from certain muscle diseases, including myasthenia gravis (2019).

Dosing and Usage Information

Huperzine A is generally taken as a dietary supplement, with established daily value doses of 300 to 500 mcg (Chen et al., 2000). It is regularly prescribed [and considered generally safe] to the elderly, and patients suffering from dementia or a neurological condition (Du et al., 2017).  Dosing will be different for the herbal tea variant of the plant, and culture will play heavily into further derivatives of the plant’s consumption from there (Walker & Brown, 1998).

Side Effects

Huperzine A is considered safe for short-term use when administered within daily value doses (Chen et al., 2000). It is possible, however, for some side effects to occur for some individuals. These side effects, however rare, may include blurred vision, diarrhea, nausea, slurred speech, sweating, and vomiting (Beshara et al., 2019).



Huperzine A has been used throughout traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and has been building an impressive collection of clinical trials and studies.  The herb has been proven effective for many conditions. It has shown its profound benefits to cognitive performance and memory.  While it has been traditionally served as an herbal tea, modern cultures typically use it as a dietary supplement.  And it is arguable to say that the plethora of recent studies have outlined a potential that science has yet to fully realize.  Huperzine A is most certainly an interesting, and notable nootropic for the brain!

A Note from NooFiles

This article is intended to be used for information only.  We want to remind you that consulting your physician is recommended before adding any dietary supplement of any kind to your daily regimen.


Beshara, J., Engle, D., and Haynes, K. (2019). Beyond Coffee. Monocle Publishing. ISBN 9781544505459

Chen, M., Gao, Z., and Deng, H. (2000). Huperzine A capsules vs tablets in treatment of Alzheimer disease: multicenter studies. Chinese Journal of New Drugs and Clinical Remedies. Vol. 19(1). Pp. 10-12.

Du., Y., Liang, H., Zhang, L., and Fu, F. (2017). Administration of Huperzine A exerts antidepressant-like activity in a rat model of post-stroke depression. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. Vol. 158. Pp. 32-38. DOI:

Higley, M., & Picciotto, M. R. (2014). Neuromodulation by acetylcholine: examples from schizophrenia and depression. Current opinion in neurobiology. Vol. 29. Pp. 88–95. DOI:

Qian, Z. M., & Ke, Y. (2014). Huperzine A: Is it an Effective Disease-Modifying Drug for Alzheimer’s Disease?. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 6, 216.

Skolnick A. A. (1997). Old Chinese herbal medicine used for fever yields possible new Alzheimer disease therapy. JAMA 277, 776.10.1001/jama.1997.03540340010004

Walker, L., and Brown, E. (1998). The Alternative Pharmacy. Prentice Hall Press. Paramus, New Jersey.  ISBN 0-7352-0021-1

Wang, Z., Wang, J., Zhang, H., and Tang, X. (2008). Huperzine A exhibits anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects in a rat model of transient focal cerebral ischemia. J Neurochem. Vol. 106(4). Pp.1594-603. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05504.x

Wang, J., Zhang, H.Y. and Tang, X.C. (2010), Huperzine a improves chronic inflammation and cognitive decline in rats with cerebral hypoperfusion. J. Neurosci. Res. Vol. 88. Pp. 807-815. DOI:

Zangara, A. (2003). The psychopharmacology of huperzine A: an alkaloid with cognitive enhancing and neuroprotective properties of interest in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. Vol. 75(3). Pp. 675-686. DOI:

Zheng, W., Xiang, Y., Ungvari, G., Chiu, F., NG, C., Wang, Y., and Xiang, Y. (2016). Huperzine A for treatment of cognitive impairment in major depressive disorder: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry. Vol. 28(2). Pp. 64-71. DOI: 10.11919/j.issn.1002-0829.216003