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.  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. 
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. 
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).
75. Kiss B, Karpati E. Mechanism of action of vinpocetine. Acta Pharm.Hung. 1996 Sep;66(5):213-24.
76. Bonoczk P, Gulyas B, Adam-Vizi V, et al. Role of sodium channel inhibition in neuroprotection: effect of vinpocetine. Brain Res Bull. 2000 Oct;53(3):245-54.
77. Szilagyi G, Nagy Z, Balkay L, et al. Effects of vinpocetine on the redistribution of cerebral blood flow and glucose metabolism in chronic ischemic stroke patients: a PET study. J Neurol Sci. 2005 Mar 15;229-230:275-84.
78. Szapary L, Horvath B, Alexy T, et al. Effect of vinpocetin on the hemorheologic parameters in patients with chronic cerebrovascular disease. Orv Hetil. 2003 May 18;144(20):973-8.
79. Gabryel B, Adamek M, Pudelko A, Malecki A, Trzeciak HI. Piracetam and vinpocetine exert cytoprotective activity and prevent apoptosis of astrocytes in vitro in hypoxia and reoxygenation. Neurotoxicology. 2002 May;23(1):19-31.
80. Ukraintseva SV, Arbeev KG, Michalsky AI, Yashin AI. Antiaging treatments have been legally prescribed for approximately thirty years. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2004 Jun;1019:64-9.
81. Szatmari SZ, Whitehouse PJ. Vinpocetine for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(1):CD003119.
82. Hagiwara M, Endo T, Hidaka H. Effects of vinpocetine on cyclic nucleotide metabolism in vascular smooth muscle. Biochem Pharmacol. 1984 Feb 1;33(3):453-7.
83. McDaniel MA, Maier SF, Einstein GO. “Brain-specific” nutrients: a memory cure? Nutrition. 2003 Nov;19(11-12):957-75.
84. Dutov AA, Gal’tvanitsa GA, Volkova VA, et al. Cavinton in the prevention of the convulsive syndrome in children after birth injury. Zh Nevropatol Psikhiatr m SS orsakova. 1991;91(8):21-2.
85. Vas A, Gulyas B, Szabo Z,et al. Clinical and non-clinical investigations using positron emission tomography, near infrared spectroscopy and transcranial Doppler methods on the neuroprotective drug vinpocetine: a summary of evidences. J Neurol Sci. 2002 Nov 15;203-204:259-62.
86. Balestreri R, Fontana L, Astengo F. A double-blind placebo controlled evaluation of the safety and efficacy of vinpocetine in the treatment of patients with chronic vascular senile cerebral dysfunction. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1987 May;35(5):425-30.
87. Feigin VL, Doronin BM, Popova TF, Gribatcheva EV, Tchervov DV. Vinpocetine treatment in acute ischaemic stroke: a pilot single-blind randomized clinical trial. Eur J Neurol. 2001 Jan;8(1):81-5.
88. Available at: http://www.pdrhealth.com/…/nmdru…/nutsupdrugs/vin_0259.shtml. Accessed July 29, 2005.
89. Hitzenberger G, Sommer W, Grandt R. Influence of vinpocetine on warfarin-induced inhibition of coagulation. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol. 1990 Aug;28(8):323-8.
Print This Post
- Enhancing and Protecting the Components of the Neurons with Nutraceuticals, Foods and Herbs
- Preventing Brain Atrophy and Cognitive Decline with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and B-Complex Vitamins
- Repairing the Damaged Plasma Membrane of the Cell and the Membrane-Bound Organelles
- Oxaloacetate Reduces Neuroinflammation
- Balancing Your Neurotransmitter Systems Naturally