Smart Drugs & Nutrients: Vinpocetine

Smart Drugs & Nutrients:

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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Excerpted from Smart Drugs & Nutrients by Ward Dean, MD and John Morgenthaler

Vinpocetine is a powerful memory enchancer. It facilitates cerebral metabolism by improving cerebral microcirculation (blood flow), stepping up brain cell ATP production (ATP is the cellular energy molecule), and increasing utilisation of glucose and oxygen.

What all this means is that vinpocetine shares many of the effects of several other cognitive enchancers. In the above graph from a piece of drug company literature, vinpocetine is shown to compare favourably to: placebo, vincamine, papaverine, DHT (Hydergine), xanthinol nicotinate, meclophenoxate, cinnarizine, niacin, cyclandelate, difenidol, and ifenprodil.

Vinpocetine is often used for the treatment of cerebral circulatory disorders such as memory problems, acute stroke, aphasia (loss of the power of expression), apraxia (inability to coordinate movements), motor disorders, dizziness and other cerebro-vestibular (inner-ear) problems, and headache. Vinpocetine is also used to treat acute or chronic ophthalmological diseases of various origin, with visual acuity improving in 70% of the subjects.

Vinpocetine also is used in the treatment of sensorineural hearing impairment.

The Gedeon Richter company of Hungary markets vinpocetine as Cavinton in Europe. They have funded more than one hundred studies on vinpocetine, often comparing its effect to other smart drugs. The incidence of side effects in humans using the drug orally is usually less than 1% of a study's participants, with the unwanted effects usually disappearing with continued use. One series of studies that Gedeon Richter conducted involved 882 patients with neurological disorders ranging from stroke to cerebral insufficiency. Significant improvements were found in 62% of the patients. In one of the studies, cerebral insufficiency patients were asked to memorize a list of 10 words. Without vinpocetine the subjects were able to memorize an average of 6 words. After a month of treatment the average went up to 10 words. Gedeon Richter promotes vinpocetine as the only drug that improves cerebral metabolism (glucose and oxygen uptake), tolerance of hypoxia (deficient blood oxygenation), ATP concentration, norepinephrine and serotin turnover, and cerebral microcirculation. Gedeon Richter also claims that vinpocetine selectively increases blood flow to the brain, improving blood flow to the impaired area without lowering blood flow to other parts of the body.

As if the medical uses of vinpocetine were not amazing enough, in one double-blind crossover study normal, healthy volunteers showed incredible short-term memory improvement an hour after taking 40mg of vinpocetine. The volunteers took a computer-administered short-term memory test called a Sternberg Memory Scanning Test. The volunteers (all women between the ages of 25 and 40) were shown one to three digits on a computer screen, then a moment later were shown a long string of digits. The volunteers then indicated whether any of the first strings appeared in the second long string. The time the volunteers took to remember was then assessed. On a placebo the women took an average of 700 milliseconds to response when the first set contained 3 digits. With vinpocetine they averaged under 450 milliseconds!

Vinpocetine is a derivate of vincamine, which is an extract of the periwinkle. Although they have many similar effect vinpocetine has more benefits and fewer adverse effects than vincamine.

Precautions: Adverse effect are rare, but include hypotension, dry mouth, weakness, and tachycardia. Vinpocetine has no drug interactions, no toxicity, and is generally very safe.

Dosage: One or two 5 mg tablets per day.

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