(Memory and Nutrition)

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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If there are terms in these articles you don't understand, you can get a definition from the Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary.   If you want information about a specific disease, you can access the Merck Manual.   You can also search Pub Med for more abstracts on this, or any other health topic.

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Conditions That Respond Alternative Medicine Approaches to Disease

Vinpocetine   Articles

Mental Note: Supplements Supply Brain Boost
Natural Foods Merchandiser (May 2001)

Vinpocetine is processed from common periwinkle leaves and African voa canga seeds. More than 20 years ago, a Hungarian physician developed it as Cavinton, an Alzheimer's and memory-impairment drug. "There's significant evidence that it aids memory and mental function, particularly with Alzheimer's and related conditions," Bratman says.

Sustain the Brain
Nutrition Science News (February 2001)

High on the aging populations' list of fears is losing one's mental faculties. With Alzheimer's disease and other forms of senile dementia affecting some 25 percent of all people older than 80, it certainly isn't an irrational fear. Hope lies in research that is revealing nutrition's role in both treating and preventing cognitive impairment.

Smart Drugs & Nutrients: Vinpocetine
Excerpted from Smart Drugs & Nutrients

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.

Focus on Vinpocetine
Chemical Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Sofia, Bulgaria

Ethyl apovincaminate (Vinpocetine) is a vincamine derivative has been used in the clinical practice for over 25 years for the treatment of cerebrovascular disorders and related symptoms. The effects of vinpocetine on cerebral blood flow, brain metabolism, memory functions, and its neuroprotective action have been confirmed in the past years in numerous animal experiments and human studies. The aim of the present paper is to review the preclinical and clinical studies on vinpocetine.

Vinpocetine ~ Listed at PDR Health
Vinpocetine is a semi-synthetic derivative of vincamine. Vincamine is an alkaloid derived from the plant Vinca minor L., a member of the periwinkle family. Vinpocetine, as well as vincamine, are used in Europe, Japan and Mexico as pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of cerebrovascular and cognitive disorders. In the United States, vinpocetine is marketed as a dietary supplement. It is sometimes called a nootropic, meaning cognition enhancer, from the Greek noos for mind.

Vinpocetine has been known to interact with antiplatelet drugs and warfarin by increasing bleeding risk and with blood-pressure-lowering agents by enhancing their effects. It is also known to interact with herbal and dietary supplements that have antiplatelet/anticoagulant activity, such as angelica, anise, capsicum, chamomile, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, Panax, and licorice.
FROM: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. 3rd ed. Stockton, California


Vinpocetine   Abstracts

Vinpocetine Ameliorates Acute Hepatic Damage
Caused by Administration of Carbon Tetrachloride in Rats

Acta Biol Hung. 2007 (Dec); 58 (4): 411–419

Vinpocetine is a widely used drug for the treatment of cerebrovascular and memory disorders. This study aimed to investigate the effect of vinpocetine on the acute hepatic injury caused in the rat by the administration of CCl4 in vivo. Quantitative analysis of the area of damage showed 85.3% reduction in the area of damage after silymarin and 72.2, 78.9 and 82.6% reduction after vinpocetine treatment at 2.1, 4.2, 8.4 mg/kg, respectively. It is concluded that administration of vinpocetine in a model of CCl4-induced liver injury in rats reduced liver damage. The reduction obtained by 4.2 mg/kg of vinpocetine was similar to that obtained by 30 mg/kg silymarin. Therefore, it is suggested that vinpocetine might be a good pharmacological agent in the treatment of liver disease besides its neuroprotective effects.

Herbal Medicine in the Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease
Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2006 (Mar); 21 (2): 113–118 ~ FULL TEXT

Clinical drug trials in patients with AD have focused on drugs that augment levels of ACh in the brain to compensate for the loss of cholinergic function. These drugs have included ACh precursors, muscarinic agonists, nicotinic agonists, and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. The most highly developed and successful approaches to date have employed acetylcholinestrase inhibition. Although some Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs are available for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, the outcomes are often unsatisfactory, and there is a place for alternative medicine, in particular, herbal medicine. This paper reviews the clinical effects of a number of commonly used types of herbal medicines for the treatment of AD.

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: 275–284

The pharmacological effects of the neuroprotective drug vinpocetine, administered intravenously in a 14-day long treatment regime, on the cerebral blood flow and cerebral glucose metabolism in chronic ischemic stroke patients (n=13) were studied with positron emission tomography in a double-blind design.

“Brain-specific” Nutrients: A Memory Cure?
Nutrition 2003 (Nov); 19 (11-12): 957–975

Vinpocetine increases blood circulation and metabolism in the brain. Animal studies have shown that vinpocetine can reduce the loss of neurons due to decreased blood flow. In three studies of older adults with memory problems associated with poor brain circulation or dementia-related disease, vinpocetine produced significantly more improvement than a placebo in performance on global cognitive tests reflecting attention, concentration, and memory. Effects on episodic memory per se have been tested minimally, if at all.

Human Positron Emission Tomography with Oral 11C-Vinpocetine
Orv Hetil 2003 (Nov 16); 144 (46): 2271–2276

Vinpocetine, administered orally to human volunteers, readily entered the bloodstream from the stomach and the gastrointestinal tract and thereafter passed the blood-brain barrier and entered the brain. Radioactivity from [11C]vinpocetine was also demonstrated in the kidneys and in urine.

Vinpocetine Monograph
Alternative Medicine Review 2002 (Jun); 7 (3): 240–243 ~ FULL TEXT

Chronic Cerebral Vascular Ischemia Two PET studies in chronic stroke patients have shown that vinpocetine has a significant effect in increasing glucose uptake and metabolism in the healthy cortical and subcortical regions of the brain, particularly in the area surrounding the region of the stroke. (21) A study in 15 chronic ischemic stroke patients found that a two-week vinpocetine trial significantly increased cerebral blood flow in the non-symptomatic hemisphere. (10) Recent studies using Doppler sonography and near infrared spectroscopy have shown increased perfusion of the middle cerebral artery in patients with chronic cerebrovascular disease given a single infusion of vinpocetine. (10)

Synaptosomal Response to Oxidative Stress:
Effect of Vinpocetine

Free Radic Res 2000 (Jan); 32 (1): 57–66

It has been suggested that reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a role in the neuronal damage occurring in ischemic injury and neurodegenerative disorders and that their neutralization by antioxidant drugs may delay or minimize neurodegeneration. We conclude that the antioxidant effect of vinpocetine might contribute to the protective role exerted by the drug in reducing neuronal damage in pathological situations.

A Review of Nutrients and Botanicals in the Integrative Management
of Cognitive Dysfunction

Alternative Medicine Review 1999 (Jun); 4 (3): 144–161 ~ FULL TEXT

Dementias and other severe cognitive dysfunction states pose a daunting challenge to existing medical management strategies. An integrative, early intervention approach seems warranted. Whereas, allopathic treatment options are highly limited, nutritional and botanical therapies are available which have proven degrees of efficacy and generally favorable benefit-to-risk profiles. Vinpocetine, found in the lesser periwinkle Vinca minor, is an excellent vasodilator and cerebral metabolic enhancer with proven benefits for vascular-based cognitive dysfunction.


Other Memory Enhancers ~ The Nootropics

Bacopa monniera
Bacopa monniera, also referred to as Bacopa monnieri, Herpestis monniera, water hyssop, and “Brahmi,” has been used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine for centuries. Traditionally, it was used as a brain tonic to enhance memory development, learning, and concentration, [1] and to provide relief to patients with anxiety or epileptic disorders. [2]

Ginkgo biloba
Research performed during the past fifteen years suggests that ginkgo may be of value in the treatment of age-related physical and mental deterioration, dementia, peripheral vascular disease, and organic impotence. Ginkgo may also reduce the severity of depression in individuals with cerebral dysfunction. Preliminary or uncontrolled studies suggest that ginkgo may benefit some patients suffering from tinnitus, vertigo, acute cochlear deafness, macular degeneration, cyclic edema, and asthma.

Guaraná Seed Extract
Guaraná seed extract (Paullinia cupana) has been shown in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies to rapidly improve attention span, memory performance, and increased alertness and mood in participants.

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