Every week it seems that there is a new health supplement that is said to cure or prevent Alzheimer’s dementia (AD). For the consumer, it is very important to understand one very important concept about medicine. Whenever there are many drugs/herbs or novel compounds constantly being developed do treat a medical disorder- most likely none of them work.
Recently the dietary supplement huperzine A has been touted to treat and delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Huperzine is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in the plant firmoss Huperzia serrata. Laboratory work has shown that it can inhibit the enzyme -- acetylcholine-esterase like Aricept, rivastigimine and galantamine. However, in the United Statess, huperzine is sold as a health supplement and not as a pharmaceutical product.
The herb has been widely used in the orient, especially in China to treat a variety of medical disorders like fever, constipation, dry mouth, leg swelling and anemia. Isolated studies from China have shown that the herb is an effective treatment for AD and can enhance memory in young college students.