January 9, 2012
Doctor warns: Don't take this powerful Chinese folk remedy
I was recently reading an article on the Mayo Clinic's website about a little-known natural treatment for Alzheimer's. In the article, the author, warns his readers not to take huperzine A for the disease. In case you haven't heard of huperzine A, it's a compound from Chinese club moss. People in China have used it as a folk remedy to treat memory loss. So, should you avoid taking it?
According to Brent Bauer, MD, the reason you shouldn't take it has nothing to do with real science. He didn't quote any studies about it not working - or about potential side effects from the compound alone. Yes, he does say taking the compound with similar Alzheimer's drugs could cause side effects.
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That makes sense. The drugs he tells you not to take with huperzine A are cholinesterase inhibitors. Well, huperzine A is a cholinesterase inhibitor as well. So taking them together would essentially give you an overdose. And the side effects he lists are common with the drugs alone.
The real question, then, is "Why shouldn't you take huperzine A by itself?" Again, Dr. Bauer doesn't give any scientific reasoning. He admits, "Small early studies suggest that huperzine A may improve memory and protect nerve cells, which could slow the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's. More studies are needed, however, to determine possible benefits and long-term risks of huperzine A."
There are times when more studies really are needed. But with huperzine A, there are already a lot of studies on the books. Many of these studies show the compound has definite abilities to benefit and protect the brain. Because huperzine A is a cholinesterase inhibitor, it works by improving neurotransmitter levels in the brain. These studies show it can treat Alzheimer's and many other diseases and conditions associated with neurodegeneration (such as myasthenia gravis).
So what is the real reason Dr. Bauer says to avoid this nutrient? All he says is this: "For now, most doctors don't recommend taking huperzine A because FDA-approved cholinesterase inhibitor medications are available that have been tested for safety and effectiveness."
Ah, now we get the answer. He, along with "most doctors," would rather you take a drug. Why? He says it's because these drugs are FDA approved and tested for safety and effectiveness. Unfortunately, he's ignoring the stated side effects of these drugs. Aricept, for example, is another cholinesterase inhibitor. Its listed side effects include dizziness, insomnia, generalized pain, hot flashes, bloating, sore throat, gastrointestinal bleeding, and severe nausea or vomiting. So much for its safety.
How about its effectiveness? Other studies have shown that your body will absorb huperzine A better than the drugs, and it will stay in the body longer. That means the body receives its benefits far longer - and without any known side effects.
So if you or a loved one has Alzheimer's, talk to an alternative-minded doctor about taking huperzine A instead of traditional Alzheimer's drugs. It's readily available on the Internet and most health food stores. And it's far cheaper than the drugs.
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