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Huperzine A Dosage: How to Take This Great Natural Nootropic!

In this article, we examine the recommended Huperzine A dosage for improving memory and learning. This incredibly powerful plant alkaloid is currently being researched for potential therapeutic use in dementia and Alheimer’s disease. You can purchase Huperzine A as a dietary supplement and Nootropic to assist with memory and learning.

Huperzine A is extracted from the fern moss, Huperzia Serrata. It has a long history of use in Chinese medicine, where its original name was Qian Ceng Ta. Research into Huperzine A’s effects is still ongoing as it is a relatively new compound to Western science.

portrait of smart female college student with books and bright light bulb above her head as a symbol of bright ideas Taking the right Huperzine A dosage may help promote learning and memory formation

Is Huperzine A a Nootropic?

Nootropics, also sometimes called ‘smart drugs’, are chemicals and supplements that are designed to help improve learning and memory. Nootropics are specifically able to improve cognitive functions, memory, and possibly have protective effects on your brain.

The most used Nootropic substance around the world is caffeine, which scientists have shown in many studies to be able to improve memory and cognitive performance. Other Nootropic substances have been studied for their effects on Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and ADHD.

Other Nootropic substances include Choline Bitartrate, Modafinil, L-Theanine, Phenylpiracetam, and other research chemicals. According to Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea – the chemist who invented the term ‘Nootropics’ – a substance must meet five characteristic traits to be classified as a functional Nootropic.[1] These are:

  1. Enhances memory and learning
  1. Promotes resistance to learned behavior and enhances conditions which disrupt learned behaviors/memories (in favor of learning new ones)
  1. Protects the brain against physical or chemical injury
  1. Increases the efficacy of corticol / subcortical control mechanisms
  1. Lacks the pharmacology of usual psychotropic substances, having few side effects and an extremely low toxicity


So, is Huperzine A a Nootropic? We’ll come back to this at the end of the article. First, let’s examine some of the top Huperzine A benefits.

What are the top Huperzine A Benefits?


There are four main categories of Huperzine A benefits that have been fully researched today. These include:

1.    Improves learning abilities

By far, the most important benefit of Huperzine A is its ability to help improve learning capabilities. Studies have shown that Huperzine A may hold the potential to dramatically improve your learning capacity.

But, how does it do this? The answer lies in the way that Huperzine A interacts with your brain’s chemistry.

This powerful plant extract prevents the activity of an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. Scientists call it an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This enzyme’s job is to destroy excess acetylcholine in your brain. It is a very important job, and our brains are full of this enzyme!

However, by preventing the enzyme from doing its job, Huperzine A helps to allow additional acetylcholine to accumulate in your brain. What’s so great about this? Well, we need to understand what acetylcholine does to see why this is so great for improving learning.

Acetylcholine was the first neurotransmitter to be discovered, and was originally described as “vagus stuff" by Otto Loewi – an important biochemist – because of its ability to mimic electrical stimulation in the vagus nerve.[2]

Acetylcholine plays an important role in learning by helping to transmit signals (signal transduction) between neurons. Numerous studies have shown the importance of acetylcholine in forming new memories. It is known to enhance the encoding of new memories from stimuli. It does this by enhancing the cortical control system.[3]

Recent studies have suggested that acetylcholine is vitally important in regulating neural networks in the learning process. Learning requires that numerous neural network pathways work in combination to encode new memories, and the current hypothesis is that acetylcholine is an important substance in getting this all to work properly.[4]

mage of young african businessman looking at laptop screen at workplace There is growing evidence that Huperzine A is effective at improving learning abilities

2.    May help to improve memory

We’ve already seen that Huperzine A has a wonderful ability to improve learning capabilities. However, does Huperzine help with improving memory?

Well, a growing number of scientists believe that it does. This is because of the increasing scientific evidence showing that Huperzine A has a powerful effect on the memory retrieval process.

Once scientists understood Huperzine A’s effects on acetylcholine levels and learning capabilities, they grew interested in studying its effects on degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Dementia is a group of diseases that affect millions of people around the world. It includes a loss of memory and coordination, as well as a loss of motor functions. Worst of all, the quality of life of somebody affected by dementia can be very low.

Scientists are looking in many different places for anything that could help lessen the negative effects of dementia.

They have conducted many studies into the effects of Huperzine A on memory retrieval – a process of research that is still underway. Increasing evidence shows that Huperzine A’s control over cortical and subcortical control mechanisms in the brain, along with other effects, helps to improve memory and reduce memory loss. [5]


The exact mechanisms by which Huperzine A helps to improve memory are still being researched. It may work through a combination of effects – in an unusual method compared to the pharmacology of usual psychotropic substances.

Huperzine A’s effects on the acetylcholinesterase enzyme are thought to definitely be part of the memory improving effects. It is also thought to improve the expression of other neurochemicals like NGF and p75NTR. An entirely new hypothesis is that Huperzine A has additional effects on mitochondria. This may also be a mechanism which helps to improve memory. [6]

Most published studies have been conducted on patients with dementia. Specifically, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. These studies are overwhelmingly positive in their conclusions about the effects of Huperzine A on memory. [7]

A growing number of studies are looking into the Huperzine A benefits on otherwise healthy people. In these studies, scientists have found similar effects. For example, a study conducted on 34 pairs of adolescent students found that Huperzine A capsules enhanced both memory and learning performance. [8]

great memories are kept in the album Growing evidence shows the efficiency of Huperzine A in aiding the memory process

3.    Helps to protect your brain

We’ve seen that Huperzine A is able to promote increased learning capabilities and boost memory. By doing this, it helps to replace learned behaviors with new ones. However, to qualify as a Nootropic, Huperzine A must meet more criteria.

One of characteristic of a Nootropic compound is that it’s able to protect your brain against physical or chemical injury. If Huperzine A can’t do this, then there is no way we can classify it as a Nootropic.

Luckily, it does protect your brain! Numerous studies have indicated the potential use of Huperzine A as a neuroprotective substance, especially against chemical toxins. Let’s look at three.

Firstly, a study in 1997 found that Huperzine A was highly effective at preventing neuronal cell death in the presence of a toxin – glutamate. Scientists found that pretreating cell cultures with Huperzine A before exposing them to the glutamate toxin significantly reduced the amount of cell death that occurred.[9]

Secondly, beta-amyloid proteins are a crucial part of Alzheimer’s disease. These peptides are created when two enzymes break a specific protein in two. This process is called protein cleavage. The beta-amyloid proteins are toxic and create plaques in the brain – a major characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. When they fold incorrectly, the amyloid proteins can start a chain reaction of cleavage, similar to a viral infection of the brain.[10]


Researchers have found that Huperzine A is effective in preventing beta-amyloid protein cleavage and reducing the amount of beta-amyloid proteins present in your brain.[11]

Finally, a third study indicated that Huperzine A has protective effects against the free-radical, H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide). The researchers also stated that Huperzine A benefits include protection against glutamate, beta-amlyoid proteins, ischema, and staurosporine toxicity. These Huperzine A benefits are thought to be related to an antioxidant-like effect.[12]

illustration of the thought processes in the brain Huperzine A has the potential to protect your brain from toxins

4.    May stimulate growth of neurons

At least one study has found that Huperzine A has the potential to increase neuron growth. The study used neuron cell cultures from mice, and found that treating the cell cultures with Huperzine A resulted in a rapid increase in growth in the cell numbers – also known as cell proliferation.

Extremely high concentrations of Huperzine A reversed this effect, while even very low concentrations were effective at increasing cell proliferation. The scientists also conducted in vivo studies – on live animals – in which they found the same results. [13]

The main neuron cells that were affected were cells from the hippocampus. This area of the brain, found in all mammals, is thought to be the center of emotion, memory, and the automatic nervous system. [14]

More research is needed to further examine these effects, especially on human neurons and in human participants. This is a very remarkable and interesting potential benefit that deserves more attention in the scientific community.


The Recommended Huperzine A Dosage

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Most human studies have used a Huperzine A dosage of around 50-200 mcg daily. That’s micrograms, not milligrams! A microgram is one millionth of a gram – showing just how powerful this amazing plant extract is!

It might also be useful to cycle your use of Huperzine A because of it’s long half-life (around 10-14 hours).

The half-life of a substance is the amount of time that it takes until there is half of the original concentration in your blood. So, after around 12 hours, you’ll still have 50% of the original Huperzine A dosage left in your bloodstream. [15]

How To Take Huperzine A

Researchers recommend cycling Huperzine A by taking it for a few days and then waiting a few more days for your body to clear any excess compound it might have stored.

Your body has the potential to build a tolerance to substances with a long half-life, meaning that you’ll need a greater Huperzine A dosage each time to feel the same effects (until the substance has been cleared from your body). This creates the potential for abuse.

While studies have not yet indicated that people can develop a tolerance to Huperzine A, we’d definitely recommend taking it in cycles to avoid negative effects.

Huperzine A is water-soluble, so you can dissolve it in a glass of water or in fruit juice. We would also recommend adding Huperzine A to a healthy breakfast smoothie to help kick your day off with a positive start!

Huperzine A metabolism is not affected by whether or not there is food in your stomach. You can take Huperzine A on an empty stomach or with food, this won’t make a difference to how it is absorbed.[16]

It is recommended to take Huperzine A earlier in the day rather than later to help prevent possible sleep disruptions because of its slight stimulatory effects.

If you don’t like the taste of Huperzine A or would prefer to use a different method to take it, why not try using some vegan-friendly capsules.

portrait happy young woman thinking dreaming has many ideas looking up isolated grey wall background. positive human face expression emotion feeling life perception. decision making process concept. Huperzine A is a powerful natural Nootropic and memory enhancer

Huperzine A Dosage: Side Effects and Warnings

Huperzine A is said to be a very safe compound when used at the recommended dosage. Studies on humans have not indicated a high toxicity or very many side effects.

However, it is important to remember that, although Huperzine A is a plant extract, it is highly purified and very potent. The recommended dosage is in the microgram level, which is why Huperzine A is sold as a 1% extract.

Exceeding the recommended dosage could mean a large increase in the amount of Huperzine A in your body. One of the main Huperzine A benefits is to inhibit the acetylcholinesterase enzyme and thereby increase acetylcholine levels in your brain. Excessive acetylcholine is dangerous and can cause a number of side effects. These include:

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  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Loss of appetite
  • High blood pressure
  • Slowed heart rate

Despite the potential Huperzine A side effects at high doses, WebMD – a very conservative online medical resource – lists Huperzine A as possibly safe to use for up to three consecutive months. It also also listed as possibly safe for children. However, there is not enough evidence to evaluate the safety of taking Huperzine A while pregnant or breast-feeding. [17]

Conclusion: Is Huperzine A a Nootropic?

In conclusion, we’ve looked into the main potential Huperzine A benefits. These include four main benefits: improving learning capabilities, boosting memory, protecting your brain from toxins, and potentially stimulating neuron cell growth.

These four benefits fit perfectly into Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea’s criteria for a Nootropic substance. The mechanisms by which Huperzine A works include increasing the efficacy of a number of brain systems and neural networks.

The recommended dosage for Huperzine A is around 50-200 mcg per day. Huperzine A is water soluble and can be dissolved into a glass of water or juice. It can be taken at any time of day, but morning is preferred – to prevent possible sleep interruptions.

healthy organic food. strawberry fruit drink smoothie Huperzine A is water soluble and goes well with juice or a healthy smoothie


[1] Th Giurgea, C.E.: “The nootropic concept and its prospective implications” Drug. Dev. Res. 2:441–446, 1982.

[2]Chapter 11: Acetylcholine Neurotransmission” by Jack C. Waymire, Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, The UT Medical School at Houston, University of Texas online

[3] ME Hasselmo “The Role of Acetylcholine in Learning and Memory”, Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2006 Dec; 16(6): 710–715 Published online 2006 Sep 29

[4] PE Gold, “Acetylcholine modulation of neural systems involved in learning and memory”, Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2003 Nov;80(3):194-210.

[5] V Rispoli et al., “Huperzine a restores cortico-hippocampal functional connectivity after bilateral AMPA lesion of the nucleus basalis of meynert”, J Alzheimers Dis. 2013;35(4):833-46

[6] HY Zhang, “New insights into huperzine A for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease”, Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2012 Sep; 33(9): 1170–1175, Published online 2012 Sep 3

[7] SS Xu et al., “Huperzine-A in capsules and tablets for treating patients with Alzheimer disease”, Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1999 Jun;20(6):486-90.

[8] QQ Sun et al., “Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students”, Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1999 Jul;20(7):601-3.

[9] HS Ved et al., “Huperzine A, a potential therapeutic agent for dementia, reduces neuronal cell death caused by glutamate”, Neuroreport. 1997 Mar 3;8(4):963-8

[10] JM Nussbaum et al., “Alzheimer disease: A tale of two prions”, Prion. 2013 Jan 1; 7(1): 14–19.

[11] Y Peng et al., “Huperzine A regulates amyloid precursor protein processing via protein kinase C and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells over-expressing wild type human amyloid precursor protein 695”, Neuroscience. 2007 Dec 5;150(2):386-95. Epub 2007 Sep 14.

[12] R Wang et al., “Progress in studies of huperzine A, a natural cholinesterase inhibitor from Chinese herbal medicine”, Acta Pharmacologica Sinica (2006) 27, 1–26

[13] T Ma et al., “Huperzine A promotes hippocampal neurogenesis in vitro and in vivo”, Brain Res. 2013 Apr 19;1506:35-43

[14]What is the Hippocampus?”, by Dr Ananya Mandal, MD, Medical News Journal, news-medical.net, retrieved on March 14, 2017

[15]Huperzine A”, Examine.com, retrieved on March 14, 2017

[16]Huperzine A”, PubChem, Open Chemistry Database, Compound Summary for CID 9794806, retrieved on March 14, 2017

[17]Huperzine A: Side Effects”, WebMd.com, retrieved on March 14, 2017