Acetylcholinersterase is an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine within the brain. Acetylcholine is the target neurotransmitter of many nootropic supplements. Having higher than normal levels of acetylcholinesterase may have negative effects on the cholinergic system and cognitive functioning in general.

Acetylcholine & Acetylcholinesterase Relationship

Acetylcholine is prominent not only in cognitive functioning, but also muscle movement, communication and coordination. It helps to trigger the contraction and movement of muscles. The neurotransmitter basically triggers your muscles to move and work in the way your brain wants to. Obviously, this process is very complex as there are different systems involved however this is the basic function of acetylcholine in brain-to-muscle communication.

Like many different enzymes in the body, acetylcholinesterase is necessary for regular human function and homeostasis in the brain. The enzyme terminates the signals from acetylcholine. Without acetylcholinesterase, our bodies would go into convulsions or paralysis because our bodies would not be able to control muscle functions from acetylcholine signals. This is why there is a natural amount of acetylcholinesterase within our brains.

Acetylcholinesterase & Acetylcholine

Types of Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors

Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors come in two types: reversible and irreversible. Irreversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitors cannot be used safely in mammals. This is because these types terminate acetylcholine in a loop which can cause seizures, convulsions and paralysis. Reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitors can be used safely in humans and are a target for Alzheimer’s treatments.

Reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitors can also be used as nootropics. Many popular nootropic blends such as Alpha Brain work primarily off the function of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. These blends need acetylcholinesterase inhibitors to synergistically activate the very small amounts of other cholinergic ingredients. This is why these supplements work well.

Many people will also include acetylcholinesterase inhibitors into their nootropic stacks. They are very synergistic and also very powerful. One needs to be careful with how the proportion a stack with acetylcholinesterase inhibitor because only a very small amount is needed to activate the acetylcholinesterase inhibiting properties. This is why this method is only utilized for experienced and advanced nootropic users.

Huperzine A

Huperzine AHuperzine A is a type of Chinese moss that has potent reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibiting properties. It can be obtained as a supplement within the United States and many other countries. Only very small amounts of huperzine A is needed to activate the acetylcholinesterase inhibiting qualities.

Huperzine A is the main acetylcholinesterase inhibiting component in the product Alpha Brain and other nootropic blends. It is very effective and synergistic with cholinergics like citicoline and alpha GPC. Huperzine A also combines well with the racetams and will produce very strong cholinergic effects when stacked together.

Huperzine A may have side effects when used alone however these will most likely manifest when used in a stack. Side effects may include: headache, nausea, gastrointestinal problems and depression amongst others.


Galantamine is another popular reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor that may be used as both a general nootropic and Alzheimer’s aid. It may be prescribed by a doctor or obtained over-the-counter as a supplement . Galantamine is a natural alkaloid derived from a number of flowering plants in several species.

As with huperzine A, galantamine is also a very powerful acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. It needs a very small amount to produce benefits as a nootropic. Galantamine should be used with caution and especially within a cholinergic stack. It can also produce side effects consistent with cholinergic hyper stimulation.

Acetylcholinesterase & Safety

Using reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitors requires knowledge and care. One must use acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in the right dosages and amounts. Overall, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors can be seen as very safe when used in the right dosages and circumstances.

If you are looking to use acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in a nootropic stack with choline and racetams it is important to try both on their own first. This is because adding all three of these at once could increase the risk of side effects.

 It is thought that overloading the cholinergic system in some people can cause many negative side effects. This may not be true in all people however it seems to be a consistent problem nootropic users have. To avoid these problems always start slow and with smaller dosages. This will drastically reduce the risk of side effects.