Huperzia serrata is a plant belonging to the Lycopodium or clubmoss group of plants. In traditional Chinese medicine the plant is referred to as Qian Ceng Ta. A number of medicinally relevant phytochemicals have been identified from Huperzia serrata including alkaloids, flavones, Triterpenes and phenolic acids. Of these the alkaloid huperzine A has been identified as a possible anxiolytic agent in animals. For example, in one study rats were administered huperzine A and exposed to experimental stress. The researchers observed that the rats displayed significantly less anxious behaviour following administration of huperzine A, compared to control rats. The anxiolytic effect observed by the researchers was equivalent to that of diazepam. Therefore huperzine A may have anxiolytic effects in animals that is equivalent to the anxiolytic effects of mainstream medical drugs. Although huperzine A appears to possess significant anxiolytic effects, flavonoids, phenolic acids and terpenes may also be anxiolytics.
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