Vinpocetine is an extract from the seeds of the periwinkle plant (Vinca minor), a common, vinelike evergreen ground cover. The roots creep along, blooming abundantly in the spring and sporadically throughout the rest of the growing season. Known by its typically violet color, Vinca has been planted in gardens for hundreds of years. It has a long history of use as a traditional tonic to alleviate weariness, especially the type associated with advanced age, and also as an astringent for excessive menses, bleeding gums, mouth sores, and more.
There are many ingredients in Vinca minor, but vinpocetine is the one about which the most interesting and promising research has been conducted; there are many hundreds of studies with lab animals and human subjects, especially in recent European literature.
Vinpocetine is a derivative of the alkaloid vincamine. Like vincamine, it is found in small amounts in the seeds of periwinkle as well as other plants, such as voaconga and Crioceras longiflorus. Throughout the world, vincamine has been used to treat senile dementia with significant success. Studies have found vinpocetine to demonstrate many of the same functions as those of vincamine, but without the side effects. Moreover, it has been shown to be at least two times (and up to three or four times) more potent than vincamine for improving cerebral circulation, memory, and other functions in humans. No interactions with pharmaceutical drugs have been reported.
Numerous scientific studies have shown vinpocetine to be of benefit for the prevention and improvement of many different kinds of ailments. It enhances cognitive functions, including those involving long- and short-term memory, and it has also been shown to be valuable in protecting heart, visual, and hearing functions, among other benefits.
In broadest terms, vinpocetine is a powerful memory enhancer. It achieves this principally by facilitating cerebral metabolism and improving blood flow in the brain. It works by causing mild dilation of blood vessels, thereby allowing for increased cerebral blood flow, which results in increased oxygenation and glucose utilization.
This makes vinpocetine an ideal candidate not only for the improvement and prevention of certain disease processes in need of increased blood flow and oxygenation, but also for athletes who want to enhance their performance by increasing brain oxygenation, such as skiers, mountain climbers, and high-altitude hikers.
In addition to more efficient brain circulation, vinpocetine has been found to increase brain-cell energy through its effect on the production of ATP (the cellular energy molecule).
Since many brain disorders have been found to be caused by poor circulation or by neuronal damage due to inadequate oxygen and inadequate amounts of energy, it makes sense to consider vinpocetine in one’s daily cognitive supplement program.
Depending on whether your goals are more cognitive-oriented, visual- or hearing-oriented, or athletic performance-oriented, you may prefer either a vinpocetine formulation or vinpocetine alone. Generally a formulation is designed to provide optimal attainment of a particular goal. I tend to recommend formulations over single ingredients alone.
Some guidelines: Most studies showing positive benefits from vinpocetine have been done at amounts of 10 to 30 mg/day, and some at 40 mg/day. All studies done at 30 mg/day showed additional benefits compared with lesser daily amounts. Depending on your body chemistry, you could start with 10 mg/day and work up, or you could start with 30 mg/day. My suggestion for most people is work up to 30 or 40 mg/day over a couple of weeks or more. Too much, too soon of many supplements can disrupt normal intestinal flora (bacteria) and most commonly cause gastrointestinal upset or diarrhea.
There is a great fear, with advancing age, of falling prey to some highly degenerative cognitive disease such as Alzheimer’s. But there are other, lesser cognitive concerns, the ultimate severity of which cannot be dismissed, that have been termed age-related cognitive impairments (ARCI) or age-related cognitive decline (ARCD). These conditions may mean no more than gradually losing, year after year, one’s edge of mental acuity. Some researchers argue that ARCI or ARCD begins quite early in life and that we don’t notice it until we get on in years. Whatever the case, vinpocetine may be of help in preserving and possibly even recapturing mental acuity. It is certainly worth seriously considering adding it to one’s cognitive supplement program, not only for relief of, but also for protection from, ARCI or ARCD.
- Improve long and short term memory
- Enhanced alertness / awareness
- Improved visual finction
- Improved cardiovascular
Dose: 5 – 10mg per day.