Can Huperzine A Help With Alzheimer's Disease?
There is such a thing as acetylcholinesterase in our body. This is one of the more unloved substances which our body produces to efficiently destroy other molecules.
The thing about this enzyme is that it specifically targets the molecule, acetylcholine, which is actually a versatile neurostransmitter that acts as messenger for the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Having said that, acetylcholine molecule therefore serves as mediator for a host of vital functions, including many related to cognition and memory.
So why then, did Mother Nature create such an enzyme that can cut down the number of sanity-preserving acetylcholine in half?
Because, as we all say, too much of a good thing can't be good. Think too much glucose can result in diabetes. And too much television can warp your brain. That sort of thing.
The human body, like our society, is comprised of all sorts of checks and balances to keep everything in order. So we have our 'good' molecules here and 'bad' molecules there.
The 'bad' molecules will destroy the 'good' molecules while other 'bad' molecules will destroy the 'bad' molecules that destroyed the 'good' molecules and this just goes on and on. Like a good Chinese box puzzle.
Huperzine A is badder than bad
Now there is a molecule that keeps the 'bad' molecule acetylcholinesterase at bay. This molecule is called Huperzine A.
Huperzine A is actually an alkaloid found in the Chinese herb Huperzia serrata. Huperzine A specifically targets molecules that destroy the memory-enhancing neurotransmitter, acetylcholine.
Because of this function, Huperzine A is therefore effective in improving cognitive and memory abilities in humans, including those with Alzheimer's disease (Most Alzheimer's cases exhibit a shortage of acetylcholine and an abundance of acetylcholinesterase).
In China, Huperzine A is used to treat patients with Alzheimer's disease and myasthenia gravis. Scientists have studied the effects of this alkaloid substance on the mental functions of elderly Alzheimer's patients with successful results.
In a strictly controlled experiment rigorously designed by experts, patients with ages ranging from 52 to 80 were used as subjects.
All 60 patients have one or more impaired faculties as a result of the action of acetylcholinesterase. Two groups were treated using 200 mg of synthetic Huperzine A daily in either capsules or tablets while the other group was given placebo.
The experiment lasted for 60 days and afterwards, during the evaluation using an array of both psychological and physiological tests, improvement rates in both groups ranged from 43% to 70%.
No statistical evidence was found that significantly marked the difference between the capsule group and the tablet group. This led the scientists to conclude that Huperzine A may have very positive effects on the cognitive aspects of the human brain.
Huperzine A is good not just for the old, geriatric people, but for the young as well. In another study designed to examine the effects of Huperzine A on the mental functions of adolescents, Chinese researchers found that the compound can enhance memory and learning in young adults.
Based on the results of the study, Huperzine A is superior to the drugs tacrine and donepezil, which are both acetylcholinesterase inhibitors widely prescribed for Alzheimer's disease.
There is no doubt that these two drugs are effective, however, Huperzine A is a naturally occurring substance and as everyone is wont to agree, natural substances are far better compared to synthetic ones.
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