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Chinese Club Moss For Alzheimer's Disease Treatment

Can a Moss Cure Alzheimer's?

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Updated December 31, 2008

Chinese club moss (Huperzine A) is being considered for additional research as a possible means for improving the cognitive abilities of people with Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease treatment is a tough subject because little is known about how to manage it. As people continue to live longer and longer, Alzheimer's disease becomes more and more prevalent. Many supplements are being explored to help either prevent or manage Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Most haven't been studied rigorously. We've seen the ginkgo biloba, once a contender to help prevent Alzheimer's disease, doesn't seem to be playing out well under better studies. Now researchers are looking at Chinese club moss as a potential Alzheimer's disease treatment.

What the Heck is Chinese Club Moss?

Chinese club moss is a plant that is has traditionally been used in Chinese medicine as an antiinflammatory and to reduce your body's water retention. Chinese club moss contains Huperzine A, an alkaloid (nitrogen-containing compound) that could help brain function in dementia and Alzheimer's disease by blocking an enzyme in the brain (called cholinesterase) which breaks down a neurotransmitter (called acetylcholine). Acetycholine helps with learning, memory and other functions often weakened during Alzheimer's disease. By taking an extract containing Huperzine A (from the Chines club moss plant), this breakdown process can be slowed.

Chinese Club Moss and Alzheimer's Disease

There aren't any good, solid trials on Chinese club moss and Alzheimer's disease/dementia management. However, 6 trials were run in China using decent scientific methods. These trials tested Huperzine A (the active ingredient in Chinese club moss) using 454 patients with Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at the Cochrane Collaboration (a group of scientists that compile data from multiple studies and put out comclusions) used a method called meta-analysis to essentially combine the data from those trials to increase the statistical power of the studies. They concluded that Huperzine A can potentially improve symptoms in people with Alzheimer's disease. They do mention that the trials they analyzed were of poor quality and a larger, high quality study is needed to fully understand the potential of Chinese club moss (Huperzine A) for treating Alzheimer's disease.

Other Names for Chinese Club Moss

Hup A, Huperzia serrate, lycopodium serrata, qian ceng ta

Side Effects and Warnings

Studies have not been large enough to establish a reliable list of side effects and drug interactions. The recommendation at this time is to do more research and learn more about the effects of Huperzine A (Chinese club moss) on the brain. People with a history of seizures should avoid Chinese club moss because of an increase in seizure risk. It can also make changes in the heart rate. So people with heart problems, especially arrhythmias, should avoid Chinese club moss. It can also increase mucous production, so people with asthma or other lung conditions should avoid it. In short, not much is known about Chinese club moss. So you should definitely talk with your doctor about and decide together if it is a good choice for you.

Sources:

Li J, Wu HM, Zhou RL, Liu GJ, Dong BR. Huperzine A for Alzheimer’s disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD005592.

DurgDigest.com. Chinese Club Moss.

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