Moss-derived compound huperzine-A is used to enhance cognition during exercise.
Huperzine-A is a naturally found compound in the club moss plant that is refined in science labs and may provide pre workout benefits:
- Enhanced cognition. Huperzine-A may improve cognitive performance, especially focus and alertness.
- Improved muscle strength. The moss derived compound delivers muscle potentiating ability according to animal research.
Synthetically made in laboratories from an extract of the clubmoss plant (Huperzia serrata), Huperzine-A is an alkaloid believed to enhance cognitive function. Huperzine-A itself is a relatively new supplement, but its natural source has been incorporated into traditional Chinese medicine practices for centuries.
As a nootropic that easily crosses the blood-brain barrier, huperzine-A has not only been shown to enhance brain energy, but also sustain overall neuronal health. Because of this, it is sometimes added to pre-workout formulas and said to enhance mental energy and focus.
Beyond their great activity in the brain, huperzine-A products have also been used in Chinese health and nutrition to manage inflammation, fevers, and schizophrenia. More on huperzine-A as a nootropic.
How Huperzine-A Might Help With Pre-Workout Formulas
Acetylcholine is a critical neurotransmitter with a major role in maintaining sharp mental performance and overall brain health. Huperzine-A has been shown to sustain elevated levels of acetyl choline by blocking acetylcholinesterase (AchE), the enzyme in charge of degrading acetylcholine.2 3 4
Increasing the rate of acetylcholine availability by blocking acetylcholinesterase has further been shown to enhance postsynaptic muscle function, specifically in muscle conditions such as myasthenia gravis.5 By blocking acetylcholinesterase, huperzine-A may be able to improve muscle activation and contraction.6
Huperzine-A Pre-Workout Benefits & Uses
Huperzine-A has primarily demonstrated nootropic effects and is thus used to boost cognitive performance.8 Early research and reviews support this finding, listing such cognitive pre workout benefits as:
- Enhanced memory
- Improved learning performance, alertness, and focus
- Protection of neurons from oxidative stress and injury9 10
The nootropic has also been shown to potentiate skeletal muscle activity in animal studies. This could ultimately increase muscle strength and restore muscle function — especially after strains and swellings — which would be ideal for bodybuilding and other anaerobic exercises.
Animal studies have found huperzine A capable of improving both cognition and muscle activity. It has been shown to:
- Increase the efficiency of muscle contraction in rat, frog, and guinea pig muscles13
- Reverse cognitive dysfunction in rats while learning tasks14
- Attenuate the impairment of spatial memory in mice15
- Facilitate cell growth, proliferation, and survival of rat brain cells16
Huperzine-A’s capacity to enhance brain power is highlighted in the results of clinical studies.
In this double-blind, controlled investigation, 34 pairs of middle and junior-high students who had complaints about memory problems were given either 100 mcg huperzine-A (Hup) or placebo every day for 4 weeks. Students administered huperzine-A had higher significantly scores on Memory Quotient testing and better performance on language lessons than the placebo group.
- The researchers concluded that “the Hup capsules enhance the memory and learning performance of adolescent students.”17
In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized investigation, 103 Alzheimer’s patients were given either 200 mcg (4 tablets) of huperzine-A or a placebo every day during an 8-week period. Approximately 58% of patients on huperzine-A demonstrated significant improvements in memory, cognitive, and behavioral functions, with better efficacy than the placebo. No severe side effect or interactions were reported.
- The researchers concluded that “Hup is a promising drug for symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”18
In this placebo-controlled investigation, 202 Alzheimer’s patients were administered either 400 mc of huperzine-A or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Compared to the placebo, huperzine-A resulted in significant improvements in cognition, behavior, and mood on various cognitive function measures.
- The researchers concluded that “huperzine Alpha remarkably improves the cognition, behavior, ADL,and mood of AD patients.”19
Dosage for Pre-Workout
- Successful clinical research studies have used from 200 – 400 mcg of huperzine-A.
- Typical supplements provide from 50 – 200 mcg of huperzine-A per serving.
- Synthetic preparation as powder in capsules from clubmoss extracts
Supplements in Review Says
- Huperzine-A 200 mcg as a pre-workout.
Huperzine A may boost cognitive function. Huperzine-A is a potent nootropic that has been repeatedly demonstrated great cognitive-boosting effects, which may enhance focus during workouts.
Take 200 mcg of huperzine A in a pre workout formula for enhanced cognition. We suggest taking 200 mcg of huperzine-A supplements per day for its complete pre workout benefits. Jym, Spazmatic, Kotiak, and Untamed Labs Ape Sh*t are some of the most popular pre workout supplements incorporating huperzine A.
- Li YX, et al. Pharmacokinetics of huperzine A following oral administration to human volunteers. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. 2007 Oct-Dec;32(4):183-7. ↩
- Patoka et al. Huperzine A–an interesting anticholinesterase compound from the Chinese herbal medicine. Acta Medica (Hradec Kralove). 1998;41(4):155-7. ↩
- Cheng DH. Huperzine A, a novel promising acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Neuroreport. 1996 Dec 20;8(1):97-101. ↩
- Pohanka M, et al. Inhibitors of Acetylcholinesterase and Butyrylcholinesterase Meet Immunity. Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Jun;15(6):9809-25. ↩
- Fambrough DH. Control of acetylcholine receptors in skeletal muscle. Physiol Rev. 1979 Jan;59(1):165-227. ↩
- Ma X, et al. Huperzine A from Huperzia species–an ethnopharmacolgical review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Aug 15;113(1):15-34. ↩
- Pohanka M, et al. Caffeine Inhibits Acetylcholinesterase, But Not Butyrylcholinesterase. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 May;14(5):9873-82. ↩
- Tun MK, et al. The pharmacology and therapeutic potential of (-)-huperzine A. J Exp Pharmacol. 2012 Sep 5;4:113-23. ↩
- Zhong MQ, et al. Huperzine A: Is it an Effective Disease-Modifying Drug for Alzheimer’s Disease? Front Aging Neurosci. 2014;6:216. ↩
- Huang XT, et al. Reducing iron in the brain: a novel pharmacologic mechanism of huperzine A in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Aging. 2014 May;35(5):1045-54. ↩
- Desilet’s AR, et al. Role of huperzine a in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Ann Pharmacother. 2009 Mar;43(3):514-8. ↩
- Zhang RW, et al. Drug evaluation of huperzine A in the treatment of senile memory disorders. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1991 May;12(3):250-2. ↩
- Patil KD, et al. Potentiation of acetylcholine action by huperzine-A and physostigmine on some vertebrate effectors, including human iris sphincter muscle. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Apr;19(2):135-43. ↩
- Wang R, et al. Huperzine A attenuates cognitive dysfunction and neuronal degeneration caused by beta-amyloid protein-(1-40) in rat. Eur J Pharmacol. 2001 Jun 15;421(3):149-56. ↩
- Liu J, et al. Effects of synthetic (-)-huperzine A on cholinesterase activities and mouse water maze performance. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1998 Sep;19(5):413-6. ↩
- Tang LL, et al. Effects of huperzine A on secretion of nerve growth factor in cultured rat cortical astrocytes and neurite outgrowth in rat PC12 cells. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2005;26:673-8. ↩
- Sun QQ, et al. Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1999 Jul;20(7):601-3. ↩
- Xu SS, et al. Efficacy of tablet huperzine-A on memory, cognition, and behavior in Alzheimer’s disease. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1995 Sep;16(5):391-5. ↩
- Zhang Z, et al. Clinical efficacy and safety of huperzine Alpha in treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer disease, a placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trial. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2002 Jul 25;82(14):941-4. ↩