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Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine is a compound from the Periwinkle plant that is used as a cognitive protective and anti-aging agent. One of the more common of the nootropics, Vinpocetine may enhance blood flow and is touted to increase memory; this latter claim has not been investigated.

Our evidence-based analysis on vinpocetine features 153 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Vinpocetine

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Vinpocetine is a synthetic alkaloid derived from the periwinkle plant (specifically, synthesized from the molecule known as 'vincamine') that appears to have a track record of usage in European countries for the treatment of cognitive decline, stroke recovery, and epilepsy. Vinpocetine is also commonly used as a nootropic compound in the hopes that it may promote memory formation.

Vinpocetine is not fully absorbed, but what is absorbed peaks in the blood rapidly and easily enters the brain where it can exert its functions. The properties that appear to apply to oral vinpocetine supplementation include neuroprotection (against toxins and excess stimulation) and reducing neural inflammation, whereas the cognitive enhancement effect does not appear to be well supported by evidence at this point in time. While vinpocetine does appear to be effective in preventing toxins or stressors from causing amnesia, it is not yet demonstrated to inherently improve memory formation.

Vinpocetine also appears to have some efficacy against cognitive decline, but the amount of literature on this topic is much less than other drugs tested for this purpose (CDP-Choline or Alpha-GPC in particular). At least one study has noted an improvement in reaction time with a 40mg tablet of vinpocetine, which may be one of the only practically relevant improvements for healthy persons at this moment in time.

Infusions of vinpocetine do appear to enhance blood flow to the brain without inherently modifying pressure systemically, and this is thought (but not shown) to apply to oral ingestion. This would potentially reduce headaches caused by excessive pressure, and is in accordance with the traditional usage of the periwinkle plant (to reduce headaches).

Vinpocetine appears to have a role in neuroprotection and reducing neural inflammation, and for healthy persons it may potentially increase blood flow to the brain and improve reaction time (Limited evidence all around). The benefit of vinpocetine in memory formation is not yet proven, but it may protect the brain from amnesia

The mechanisms of vinpocetine are numerous. It appears to interact with several ion channels (sodium, potassium, and calcium) while tends to result in suppressive effects on neurotransmitter release and neuroprotection when dopamine or glutamate are suppressed (these two, when unnecessarily stimulated by toxins, can cause oxidative damage). It also interacts with alpha adrenergic receptors and the TPSO receptor, and while the exact benefit of these receptor interactions are not clear they are probably relevant since they occur at the same concentrations that the ion channel interactions do.

Vinpocetine is also a PDE1 inhibitor, which is a mechanism that is both cardioprotective and cognitive enhancing. Unfortunately, this inhibition occurs at a fairly large dose and may not apply to standard supplemental dosages of vinpocetine.

Similar to PDE1, an antidopaminergic potential of vinpocetine and direct inhibition of glutaminergic receptors both appear to occur at very high concentrations in vitro and may not be relevant to standard supplementation.

Vinpocetine is likely a modulator of ion channel activity, although there are some receptor interactions on alpha-adrenergic and TSPO that appear to be relevant. Other mechanisms including PDE1 inhibition or hindering glutaminergic/dopaminergic neurotransmission have been noted in vitro but at concentrations which are much higher and thus may not be relevant following oral ingestion of vinpocetine

Vinpocetine has been linked to fetal toxicity in a series of animal studies. Caution in warranted.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Vinpocetine is taken in the daily dosage range of 15-60mg, divided into three daily doses with meals. The standard low dose is 5mg at each of these three meals, with 20mg at each meal being seen as the higher end of efficacy. These doses are taken for the purposes of neuroprotection, enhancing cerebral blood flow, and reducing the rate of cognitive decline.

Doses in the higher end of that range (30-45mg acute dosages) may be useful for promoting cognition and memory formation in otherwise healthy persons, but there is not a lot of evidence looking at this claim.

Warning: for pregnant women, the equivalent of doses abouve 10 mg/d have been linked to fetal toxicity in animal studies. 10 mg/d may also be risky, especially when taking throughout an entire pregnancy.

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Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine Plus members

The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Vinpocetine has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine Plus members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in acute memory formation has been noted in female volutneers given 40mg Vinpocetine
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in pulse rate has been noted with vinpocetine
grade-c Minor - See study
High doses (40mg) may reduce reaction time during tested, with lower doses not being potent enough to influence reaction time
grade-c - - See study
grade-d Minor Very High See 2 studies
The rate of cognitive decline appears to be attenuated with vinpocetine administration, this may be related to blood flow
grade-d Minor - See study
An improvement in balance has been noted with vinpocetine ingestion in the elderly, which may be related to the attenuation of cognitive decline
grade-d Minor - See study
Improvements in speech performance have been noted in the elderly, which may be more indicative of the reductions in cognitive decline
grade-d Minor Very High See 2 studies
An increase in well being has been noted to be secondary to the reduced rate of cognitive decline

Studies Excluded from Consideration

  • Used an infusion of vinpocetine rather than oral ingestion[1]

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Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Also Known As

Vincamine, Vinca Minor, Periwinkle Extract, Cavinton (Brand Name), ethyl apovincaminate

Goes Well With

  • Nitrate (and possibly other nitric oxide inducers) due to reducing tolerance

  • Food intake (increases absorption rates)

  • Vinpocetine has been reported to alter cognition somewhat (albeit not potent when compared to classical stimulants like caffeine)

  • Vinpocetine has its absorption from supplements enhances (60-100%) when taken alongside food

  • Vinpocetine may result in fetal toxicity

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