Huperzine A: Nootropic Effects, Benefits, & Side Effects Reviewed

Updated on June 9, 2023
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)

Are you interested in natural nootropics?

Are you looking for something to help improve your cognitive performance and focus?

If so, then Huperzine A may be the perfect supplement for you!

In this article, we'll discuss what makes Huperzine A unique and how it can help enhance your mental capabilities.

What is Huperzine A?

Huperzine A is an alkaloid compound found naturally in certain species of moss, including Huperzia serrata, H. elmeri, H. carinat, and H. aqualupian. It has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat fever, inflammation, and other ailments. In recent years, however, Huperzine A has become increasingly popular as a nootropic because of its potential to enhance cognitive performance and protect the brain from neurological damage.

huperzine a nootropic

It is thought to work by inhibiting the enzyme that degrades the learning neurotransmitter acetylcholine, resulting in an increased relative concentration of acetylcholine in key areas of the brain.

Benefits of Huperzine A

Huperzine A has been studied for its potential benefits in improving cognitive function, memory, and learning. In addition to its cognitive-enhancing properties, Huperzine A is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against glutamate-toxicity. It is also a neuroprotectant, helping to preserve neurons and promote neuroplasticity.

Huperzine A is also known to help regulate the G4 isoform of acetylcholinesterase, which selectively increases acetylcholine levels in specific brain regions involved in memory and learning. In this way, Huperzine A may help improve memory performance and cognitive function.

How Huperzine A Works in the Brain

Huperzine A has been studied for its ability to support memory and cognitive performance. It is known to inhibit an enzyme that degrades the learning neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. By inhibiting this enzyme, there is a relative increase in acetylcholine, which helps to improve memory and learning.

Huperzine A also helps to protect against glutamate-toxicity, which can damage nerve cells and lead to cognitive decline. It is thought to work through its antioxidant activity, which helps to reduce inflammation in the brain and protect against oxidative stress. In addition, Huperzine A can help to support neuroplasticity, which is essential for memory formation and recall.

Huperzine A and Memory Performance

Huperzine A has been suggested as a possible treatment to help improve memory and cognitive performance. This is because of its ability to increase the levels of Acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in memory and learning.

Studies have shown that increasing levels of Acetylcholine through supplementation with Huperzine A can lead to improved memory and cognitive performance. Other studies have also linked Huperzine A with improved memory recall, improved concentration, and better learning performance.

Huperzine A as a Cognitive Enhancer

Huperzine A is also known as a cognitive enhancer because it helps to inhibit an enzyme that degrades the learning neurotransmitter, acetylcholine(1). This inhibition of the enzyme results in a relative increase in acetylcholine levels, allowing for improved mental performance.

Huperzine A also improves neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to re-wire and form new pathways, while also protecting against glutamate-toxicity. Studies have shown that Huperzine A can improve cognitive performance in healthy individuals and those with Alzheimer’s disease(2).

Side Effects of Huperzine A

Huperzine A is considered to be generally safe and well tolerated, but there are some potential side effects that should be taken into consideration. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It has also been reported to cause headaches and dizziness in some individuals.

In rare cases, Huperzine A may cause muscle spasms and blurred vision. It is important to note that these side effects are often mild and temporary. Furthermore, it is suggested that Huperzine A be taken with food to reduce the risk of experiencing these side effects.

Dosage and Timing for Huperzine A

When it comes to dosage, the standard recommended dose of Huperzine A is between 50-200 mcg per day, with most people taking 200 mcg per day. It is best to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it. The supplement should be taken on an empty stomach and can be taken twice or three times a day. It is important to note that because Huperzine A has a long half-life, it should not be taken more than once a day.

It is also important to cycle Huperzine A, meaning that it should only be taken for 2-3 weeks at a time, followed by a 1-2 week break. This will help to prevent any tolerance from developing and will ensure that the supplement remains effective.

What Does the Research Say About Huperzine A?

Research on huperzine A is still ongoing and there is still much to learn about how it works and its effects on the brain. However, some studies have suggested that it can be beneficial for memory and cognition. In one study, huperzine A was found to improve the learning ability of rats with cognitive impairments.

Additionally, a meta-analysis of 30 studies found that huperzine A improved memory and cognitive performance in humans with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Further research also suggests that huperzine A might be useful in treating age-related cognitive decline, as well as improving focus and alertness in healthy adults.

Combining Huperzine A with Other Nootropics

Huperzine A can be combined with other nootropics to maximize its potential benefits. The combination of Huperzine A with other cognitive enhancers such as Alpha GPC, Bacopa Monnieri, and Citicoline has been well-studied and is believed to provide a synergistic effect. Combining Huperzine A with these other nootropics may help to support memory formation and recall, as well as to promote neuroprotection(3).

It is important to note, however, that the combination of Huperzine A with other nootropics can result in an increased risk of side effects. It is recommended that the user consults with a healthcare provider before combining Huperzine A with any other nootropic or supplement.


In conclusion, Huperzine A is a promising nootropic that has a wealth of research to back up its potential as a cognitive enhancer and memory booster. It is a safe and effective compound that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, and can be used in conjunction with other nootropics for enhanced effects.

While there are still some unknowns about this compound, the research that has been conducted provides promising evidence for its efficacy. If you are looking for a way to improve your mental performance, Huperzine A may be worth considering.