Huperzine A for Endurance Athletes

We don’t want to sound like jerks here, but you should probably listen to us. Why? Well, we think we’re a pretty smart couple of guys. Why are we smart? Because we use nootropics. Actually, we just eat clubmoss, which sounds like a pretty dumb thing to do. We can’t argue with that.

Your first question might be, “what is a nootropic?” A nootropic is a supplement that enhances one or more aspects of cognitive function. That aspect could be memory, attention, perceptual-motor function, language, executive function, or social cognition. That’s all well and good, but the next question is the big one, “how is that supplement going to help me run faster?”

Huperzine A

Huperzine best preworkout supplement

Huperzine A is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor – it slows the breakdown of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for humans in general, especially athletes (for more on acetylcholine, click here). Reducing the breakdown of acetylcholine means more can stay present to go around and do its job (nerve signaling, muscle contraction, etc.). Huperzine A gets its name from Huperzia Serrata. Otherwise known as toothed clubmoss. Maybe eating a bush that looked like a stunted pine tree wasn’t so dumb after all.

That doesn’t answer the question, though. Does it?

How Can Huperzine A Benefit Athletes

huperzine best preworkout supplement for cyclists

Aside from how it directly pertains to muscle physiology or exercise performance, which would be in line with acetylcholine, huperzine’s nootropic effect can have a huge impact on performance. It’s not all about the muscles, lungs, bones, and heart. The mind is present in everything we do.

That may sound cheesy or overly vague, but it is true. Even when we think we’re on autopilot, that it is basal ganglia executing a routine so the mind doesn’t have to bother with basic tasks. Come to think of it, the mind of kind of a snobby, little B!

The list of cognitive functioning domains mentioned in the second paragraph has 6 domains. Five of them have a role in sport. You can make a case for language too, but maybe that’s one thing we can take for granted. Huperzine can aid in all 5 domains pertinent to sport by enhancing neurotransmission.

5 Domains of Enhanced Performance

best focus for competition

The most obvious domain that would benefit from enhanced functioning by huperzine supplementation is perceptual-motor function. This is a more broad term for hand-eye coordination that extends to all sensations and body part. For example, you can follow a smell; nose-leg coordination. Responding to sensory motor stimuli, on the other hand, gets into attention and executive function.

Think about this phrase and the situation that might precede it, we’ve all had one of these. “That pothole came out of nowhere!” I know it’s happened to me. I’ve been running along, and the next thing I know my knee has hyperextended, my ankle has rolled, or I’m on the ground right after a rapid rush of thoughts and panic about the ground not being where I expected the ground to be.

With enhanced attention, I can not only day dream while I’m on an autopilot run, but I can pay attention to the ground as well. This is called divided attention. Having to stare at the ground for an hour, that’s sustained attention, and ignoring the bugs buzzing around your face, selective attention. Now, when a pothole is in sight, we can use executive functioning to make a plan to jump, change direction, or use another maneuver to avoid rolling an ankle.

Now let’s say we’re on a trail run in the mountains, and there’s a lot of sticks and rocks that we need to deal with so we don’t fall. Let’s say we step on a rock that we think is secure, but it slides. Reacting to the rock moving unexpectedly is a combination of executive and psychomotor function, and if those domains are working correctly, we save ourselves from a nasty spill. Memory comes into play when we go back to the trail a week later and don’t make the same mistake!

Social cognition is a fun one. If you’re a competitive athlete, chances are you’ve been on one side or another of psyching out an opponent. It happens a lot in sport. We say, “they beat themselves.” That’s not always the case, though. In a great come-from-behind win, we see this all the time. The person or team that is losing acts like they’re winning or expecting to win – they have all the momentum. Their opponent at first assures themselves a comeback won’t happen. Then the person or team trailing starts gaining on them. Then the opponent is worried, and when you compete worried, you’re bound to lose. Having the social cognition to psychologically stress an opponent can be a deciding factor, and being keen on when just what to say and how to say it can create all sorts of internal conflict in an opponent.

What Does the Research Say About Huperzine A?

huperzine best preworkout supplement for runners

Unfortunately, there are no studies examining Huperzine’s effects on psychosocial stress in sport. That would be cool, though! The research has taken a look at how Huperzine can affect memory and other domains of cognitive function. Meta-analyses featuring over 20 studies examining Huperzine for reversing cognitive decline have shown enhanced memory, attention, perceptual-motor function, and executive function with Huperzine supplementation without any adverse events. In fact, dosing up to 60x an efficacious amount with Huperzine produces no adverse events.

These are some of the reasons Huperzine was selected for PerformElite. Nootropics as a whole are lacking thorough research, and Huperzine is one of the most researched nootropics available. It is also considered extremely safe, which some nootropics are not (many are also stimulants). From personal experience, huperzine is one of the best for enhancing focus and attention during exercise. It helps with starting strong and staying in tune with the body throughout an exercise bout. On some training days, those 2 factors really make a difference!
 
References

Zangara, A., Edgar, C., Wesnes, K., Scalfaro, P., & Porchet, H. (2006). Reversal of Scopolamine-related Deficits in Cognitive Functions by zt-1, a Huperzine-a Derivative. In Proceedings of the Ninth International Geneva Springfield Symposium on Advanced Alzheimer Therapy. Geneva, Switzerland.

 
Wang, B. S., Wang, H., Wei, Z. H., Song, Y. Y., Zhang, L., & Chen, H. Z. (2009). Efficacy and safety of natural acetylcholinesterase inhibitor huperzine A in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: an updated meta-analysis. Journal of neural transmission, 116(4), 457-465.
 
Xu, Z. Q., Liang, X. M., Zhang, Y. F., Zhu, C. X., & Jiang, X. J. (2012). Treatment with Huperzine A improves cognition in vascular dementia patients. Cell biochemistry and biophysics, 62(1), 55-58.
 
Yang, G., Wang, Y., Tian, J., & Liu, J. P. (2013). Huperzine A for Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. PloS one, 8(9), e74916.
 
Ye, J. W., Cai, J. X., Wang, L. M., & Tang, X. C. (1999). Improving effects of huperzine A on spatial working memory in aged monkeys and young adult monkeys with experimental cognitive impairment. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 288(2), 814-819.