4 Ways It Supports Memory: Huperzine Deserves a Little Hoopla!

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In the quest to support cognitive function and address conditions like Alzheimer’s, ancient wisdom often intersects with modern science. One such intersection is the discovery of Huperzine A, a compound with a centuries-old history of medicinal use now gaining attention for its potential in enhancing memory and supporting brain health. Here’s a question I received from Fran via my syndicated column when I was published in the Sacramento Bee.

Dear Pharmacist,
I’ve learned about huperzine A and its traditional uses for colds, inflammation, and menstrual discomfort. My current concern, however, is my mother’s significant memory loss. Could this be of any help to her?

I always hold hope for improvement, even though I can’t guarantee specific results, especially in advanced cases like your mother’s. The article I wrote, now available on my website, reviews nine powerful memory enhancers. A holistic approach combining several of these, rather than relying solely on huperzine A, may offer broader benefits.

Huperzine A and Cognitive Health

Derived from the Chinese club moss Huperzia serrata, has intrigued researchers and clinicians alike. Its historical backdrop as a traditional remedy has now expanded to include cognitive support, thanks to its unique properties that impact brain chemistry. Huperzine serrata is the plant name that provides the Huperzine A – see below for more on this important distinction.  

Alzheimers dementia

In the battle against cognitive decline, huperzine A functions similarly to certain Alzheimer’s medications by inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. This inhibition supports higher levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter pivotal for memory and learning. See below for symptoms of this debilitating disorder.

Furthermore, this special memory-loving herb has shown potential as an NMDA receptor antagonist. This means it can help regulate overactive neural pathways, fostering an environment conducive to neuroplasticity and mental clarity. 

Research Highlights

While studies have been mixed, a body of evidence supports huperzine A’s cognitive benefits. A notable study in 1995 demonstrated improvement in nearly 60% of participants with cognitive impairments. A 2008 review also saw promising results. The National Institute on Aging is currently examining optimal dosages and its impact on daily functioning.

One interesting mushroom is LION’s MANE, another nootroopic herbal that has emerging in the world of cognitive health.

Alzheimer's symptoms

Usage and Considerations 

Huperzine A is readily available in health food stores and online. However, dosing is critical; excessive intake can lead to side effects like sweating, nausea, and dizziness. It’s crucial to consult with with your practitioners or a pharmacist to see if your medications will interact, particularly those that affect cholinergic systems.

FS MemoryScript

The Difference Between Huperzine “A” and “Serrata”

Huperzine A and Huperzia serrata are related but not identical. Huperzine A is a compound extracted from the plant Huperzia serrata (aka Chinese club moss). The plant itself has been used for centuries. Huperzine A is the specific component of the plant.

  • Huperzia serrata: This is the species name of the plant from which huperzine A is derived.
  • Huperzine A: This is the active chemical compound found within the Huperzia serrata plant that is used in supplements and studied for its effects on cognitive function.

I put some of this in my Memory Script® supplement which is for brain health.* A supplement may contain Huperzia serrata (because it is an excellent source of Huperzine A), and it is the whole plant extract (that naturally includes Huperzine A), among other constituents. I formulated my supplement to use the whole plant extract for several reasons:

  1. Full Spectrum of Plant Compounds: Whole plant extracts contain a variety of naturally occurring compounds that may work synergistically. This means that besides “Huperzine A,” there might be other beneficial compounds in Huperzia serrata that will enhance the overall efficacy of the supplement.

  2. Traditional Use: The use of whole plant extracts aligns with traditional herbal medicine practices where the entire plant is often used rather than isolated compounds.

  3. Consumer Preference: Many consumers today prefer supplements derived from whole plant sources as opposed to isolated compounds, believing they are closer to the form used historically in herbal medicine.

4 Ways It Supports Memory

  1. Huperzine Serrata boosts levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter crucial for learning and memory, by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks it down.

  2. It enhances nerve growth factor, promoting the development and maintenance of neurons, which are vital for memory storage and retrieval.

  3. The compound supports the formation and maintenance of synapses, the connections between neurons, enhancing communication and memory processing.

  4. Huperzine Serrata also possesses neuroprotective properties, safeguarding neurons from oxidative stress and toxins, thus improving overall brain health and memory function.


While huperzine A may not be a cure-all, especially for those in advanced stages of cognitive decline, it offers a beacon of hope for many seeking to support brain health. As research continues to evolve, this ancient remedy stands out for its potential modern-day applications in enhancing memory and cognitive function.

A person’s journey to support a loved one’s declining cognitive health is a challenging but worthwhile endeavor. Exploring the benefits of this herb, alongside other natural and pharmaceutical interventions, could provide a multi-faceted approach to nurturing the mind and improving quality of life.

The path to wellness often requires both patience and persistence. Let’s continue to explore the wisdom of both ancient remedies and modern science.