Huperzine (Huperzine A) is a plant alkaloid derived from the Chinese club moss plant, Huperzia serrata, which is a member of the Lycopodium species. Huperzia serrata has been used in Chinese folk medicine for the treatment of fevers and inflammation. Huperzine A has been found to have acetylcholinesterase activity. Due to this activity, Huperzine A is thought to benefial to dementia, memory impairment, and myasthenia gravis. Huperzine B, also derived from Huperzia serrata, is a much less powerful acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. In Chinese medicine, the extract of Huperzia serrata is known as Chien Tseng Ta and shuangyiping.
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Special Considerations Huperzine A should be avoided by children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. Because of possible adverse effects in those with seizure disorders, cardiac arrhythmias and asthma, those with these disorders should avoid huperzine A. Those with irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease and malabsorption syndromes should avoid huperzine A.
Cautions Adverse effects reported with huperzine A include gastrointestinal effects, such as nausea and diarrhea, sweating, blurred vision, fasciculations and dizziness. Possible adverse effects include vomiting, cramping, bronchospasm, bradycardia, arrhythmias, seizures, urinary incontinence, increased urination and hypersalivation.