Huperzine A is an alkaloid isolated from the plant Huperzia serrata. The plant is commonly called the toothed clubmoss, and is native to India and Southeast Asia. Evidence suggests that huperzine A is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. A number of studies suggest that huperzine A may improve memory and may be useful in the treatment of age-related memory deficit, Alzheimer’s disease, or simply as a nootropic to enhance learning and memory. However, huperzine A also shows the ability to protect neurones in the brain from damage caused by experimental stressors, and therefore may be considered a neuroprotective agent. It is thought that huperzine is neuroprotective because it acts as an antioxidant in tissues and this prevents oxidative stress, a major cause of neuronal damage. Huperzine A is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a memory enhancer and the alkaloid has become popular as a dietary supplement in the West where it is marketed as a nootropic.
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