The Cochran Library is reporting today that an extract derived from the Chinese club moss plant extract may improve cognition in Alzheimer’s disease patients. The extract has been named Huperzine A and it appears that patients who have taken this extract have improved cognitive function, better functional performance and even reduced behavioral disturbances compared to patients taking placebos.
The research team came to this conclusion after studying data in six trials that involve a total of 454 patients. While this is still a relatively small number of patients, with a positive result such as this, we can assume that there will be larger trials in the near future.
Scientists know that Huperzine A can block acetyl cholinesterase and that it can work both in the peripheral and central nervous systems. This makes it a promising agent for treating various forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, because a part of the damage involved in Alzheimer’s is a loss of this important neurotransmitter, one that contains neurons in the basal forebrain.
Associate Professor Hongmei Wu, who led this research and who works in the Department of Geriatrics at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. was the lead author of the work.
Additionally, in a small study of teenagers, huperzine A appeared to enhance general mental functioning when it was taken consistently for as little as one month. However, more research is needed before huperzine A can be recommended for Alzheimer's, dementia or general memory improvement.