Vinpocetine Enhances Brain Circulation


Vinpocetine is a semi-synthetic derivative of the periwinkle (Vinca minor) plant. Developed more than three decades ago, vinpocetine has been hailed as an important neuroprotective agent with several key mechanisms of action. [75] It has been widely used to treat symptoms of cognitive decline throughout Europe, where it is available only by prescription. Vinpocetine’s ability to increase blood circulation and enhance glucose utilization in the brain is one of its most powerful effects. [76-79] This is particularly helpful to the aging brain, given that blood flow in the brain (and thus, oxygenation) tends to diminish with advancing age.

Vinpocetine’s therapeutic effects include its ability to enhance the electrical conductivity of cells composing the neural network. It protects the brain from damage caused by the excessive release of calcium ions intracellularly. Vinpocetine improves cerebral blood flow by inhibiting an enzyme that degrades cyclic GMP, a cellular metabolite. Degradation of cyclic GMP causes blood vessel constriction. Preventing degradation, therefore, allows cerebral arteries to relax, improving blood flow. [76-78,80-82]

Scientists have studied vinpocetine’s effects on human subjects under controlled conditions in various clinical trials. Three studies of older adults with memory problems associated with poor brain circulation or dementia-related disease have shown that vinpocetine confers significantly more improvement than a placebo in performance on comprehensive cognitive tests reflecting attention, concentration, and memory. [83]

Vinpocetine has even been studied in newborn babies who suffered brain damage due to birth trauma. Vinpocetine significantly reduced or eradicated seizures and elicited a decrease in abnormally high pressure within the brain. [84]

These studies reveal that vinpocetine’s therapeutic effects compare favorably with acetylcholinesterase inhibitor drugs such as Aricept®, which is used extensively in the US and abroad to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms and vascular dementia. Human trials and others using rodent models reveal that vinpocetine is safe, effective, and well tolerated. [81,85-87]

There have been some reports that vinpocetine in combination with the prescription drug Coumadin® (warfarin) may slightly influence prothrombin time, a measure of the clotting time of blood plasma. [88,89]

Although vinpocetine is unlikely to have a clinically meaningful effect on prothrombin time in patients who are also taking Coumadin®, please consult with your doctor if you plan to use a vinpocetine-containing supplement concomitantly with Coumadin® (warfarin).

Excerpt from Preserving and Restoring Brain Function By Dale Kiefer (Life Extension)


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