Vinpocetine supplement benefit and side effects, safety, medical use for mental enhancement and stroke treatment, 5 mg and 10 mg doses by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
March 26 2014

Vinpocetine is chemically related to, and derived from vincamine, an alkaloid found in the periwinkle plant with many benefits. It  was introduced into clinical practice in Europe more than two decades ago for its role in brain and heart disorders and related symptoms. Experiments with this periwinkle extract indicate that it can dilate blood vessels, cross the blood-brain barrier, enhance circulation in the brain, improve oxygen utilization, make red blood cells more pliable, and inhibit aggregation of platelets. It even has antioxidant benefits. Levels peak in the bloodstream within an hour and a half after ingestion.

Benefit
The most useful attributes appear to be in the area of brain boosting / nootropic qualities and perhaps as a treatment in those who have had a stroke.


Purchase Vinpocetine supplement 5 mg per capsule

A vinpocetine capsule is sometimes recommended to be taken more than once daily however many people may be sensitive to this supplement and should limit their initial use to no more than 5 mg daily. Always start your first time with half a 5 mg pill in order to see if you have any negative responses to it. By taking a small amount at first, you could avoid an unpleasant effect. We don't suggest buying 20 mg tablets or capsules since taking a 20 mg capsule or tablet can cause adverse effects such as dizziness and lightheadedness. Even the 10 mg can cause dizziness in some users.

Vinpocetine 5 mg per pill. If you have not tried this brain booster before, use a the lower dosage of 5 mg a day instead of two pills at 10 mg.


 

Purchase Vinpocetine supplement 5 mg product, Free capsules of Mind Power Rx brain enhancer, Eyesight formula for better vision, or to learn more about additional brain boosting pills
 

Vinpocetine side effects, safety, caution
To avoid a vinpocetine side effect, always start with a low dose, such as half of a 5 mg capsule or tablet. High doses can cause the side effect of dizziness, weakness, and uneasy feeling. Do not take a 10 mg pill unless you have first tried half of a 5 mg dose, then a 5 mg both without any adverse effects.

I had a sudden blood platelet increase after taking vinpocetine 10 mg twice a day. I have stopped taking the two pills per day and have not had high platelet counts.
    This is the first we have heard of this supplement leading to high platelet count. We actually prefer people not take vinpocetine more than 5 mg a few times a week. We'll see if others report high platelet count associated with the use of this mind supplement.

Research and benefit 

Alzheimer's disease - found not to be of benefit

Fifteen Alzheimer patients were treated with increasing doses (30, 45, and 60 mg per day) in an open-label pilot trial during a one-year period. The study was done at VA Medical Center, in San Diego, California. The supplement failed to improve cognition at any dose tested. There were no significant side effects from the therapy.

Antioxidant activity
Synaptosomal response to oxidative stress: effect of vinpocetine.
University of Coimbra, Portugal. Free Radic Res 2000.
The antioxidant effect might contribute to the protective role exerted by the drug in reducing neuronal damage in pathological situations.

Atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries
PLoS One. Dec 9 2013. Inhibitory Effects of Vinpocetine on the Progression of Atherosclerosis Are Mediated by Akt/NF-κB Dependent Mechanisms in apoE(-/-) Mice. These results suggest that vinpocetine exerts anti-atherogenic effects through inhibition of monocyte adhesion, oxidative stress and inflammatory response, which are mediated by Akt/NF-κB dependent pathway but independent of PDE1 blockade in macrophages.

Dementia
Researchers at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England administered it to patients suffering from mild to moderate dementia (Hindmarch 1991). Two hundred and three patients included in a placebo-controlled, randomized double-blind trial received every day for sixteen weeks either 10 mg doses of vinpocetine three times a day, 20 mg doses three times a day, or placebo three times a day. There were no clinically relevant side effects reported. Statistically significant cognitive improvements were found in favor of active treatment groups compared to placebo. The patients on 10 mg performed slightly better than those on 20 mg.
   In a double blind clinical trial, vinpocetine was shown to offer significant improvement in elderly patients with chronic cerebral dysfunction. Forty-two patients received 10 mg three times a day for thirty days, then 5 mg three times a day for sixty days. Matching placebo tablets were given to another forty patients for the ninety-day trial period. Patients on vinpocetine scored consistently better in all cognitive evaluations. No serious side effects were reported.

High altitude sickness
I have not come across any studies regarding its role or benefit in prevention of high altitude symptoms or problems while mountain climbing.

Macular degeneration treatment
I read on a website that vinpocetine could be helpful in treating wet macular degeneration, to help increase available oxygen to the eye. Do you believe it would be helpful. I am currently being treated for it in my right eye, am receiving injections in the eye of anti-VEGF factors and taking some additional supplements as well as, I believe, steroid drop in the eye, all prescribed by a retinal specialist. He seems open to alternative techniques, probably feeling the mostly likely wont hurt the situation.
    I found one Russian study with oral vinpocetine that showed some benefit.

Effect of vasoactive agents on visual functions and ocular blood flow in patients with early manifestations of age-related macular degeneration
Vestn Oftalmol. 2007.
Forty patients aged 40 to 65 years who had non-exudative forms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), including 20 patients with degeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), 15 with retinal drusen, and 5 with RPE atrophy were examined. All the patients were divided into 2 groups. Group 1 comprised 20 patients receiving, in addition to conventional therapy, cavinton forte (1 tablet contains 10 mg of vinpocetine). Group 2 (control) included 20 patients receiving conventional therapy (antioxidants, peptide bioregulators, lutein containing agents). Medical treatment was performed during 2 months. After a course of cavinton therapy, patients with age-related macular degeneration were observed to have better visual acuity, improved retinal function, and increased a- and b-wave amplitudes on a macular electroretinogram. There was improvement of ocular blood flow values, which is indicative of better uveal blood supply.

       
Memory enhancement

Twelve healthy female volunteers received pre-treatments with 40 mg three times a day or placebo for two days according to a randomized, double-blind crossover design. On the third day of treatment and one hour following morning dosage, subjects completed a battery of psychological tests. Memory was significantly improved following treatment when compared to placebo.
   The 40 mg three times a day is a very high dose and could lead to side effects.
Vinpocetine may improve memory if lack of circulation or poor circulation to the brain or lack of adequate oxygenation is the cause of the memory loss. I think other supplements, especially a combination of mind boosting herbs and nutrients is a better option than vinpocetine by itself.

Meniere's disease
I would like to know if it could be helpful in managing Meniere's disease by increasing blood flow to the inner ear and decrease the vertigo attacks? It would be worth the try.
    I agree that it would be worth a try. There’s been one small study showing positive effects, but I haven’t had a chance to try it with a patient in my office.

Seizures, epilepsy
Are you aware of any research showing that vincopetine can reduce or eliminate seizures? A publication, "Astonishing Mental Miracles", says that a Russian study shows this to be true, but does not have a bibliography or any way to verify the statement. My daughter has had seizures for 21 years, with many falls and injuries. Does vincopetine interact with Tegretol (carbamazepine)? She has taken Tegretol for about 20 years, with bad effect on her white blood cell count.
    One or two small foreign studies have indicated that vinpocetine may be slightly helpful for seizures, but it is unlikely that it has any significant influence. Most cases of seizures are not due to poor blood flow. Based on my current knowledge, I doubt this supplement would make a significant impact on seizures. I don't know of any research done with it in combination with Tegretol.

Sexual enhancement, erectile dysfunction
We have not had any direct experience or any feedback from users regarding the effect on sex drive or performance.

Stroke prevention or treatment
Acute and Chronic effects of Vinpocetine on Cerebral Hemodynamics and Neuropsychological Performance in Multi-infarct Patients.
J Clin Pharmacol. 2005.
Twenty-six patients (17 men, 9 women) with multiple cerebral infarctions, aged between 50 and 83 years were examined, 14 of whom received vinpocetine and 12 placebo. Three months later, the vinpocetine patients did not show any significant worsening in digit span backward test, while the placebo group did. No other significant differences in the neuropsychological test could be detected between the treatment and the placebo groups. Longer lasting and higher dosage of therapy is suggested to prove its potential effect.

Asymptomatic ischemic cerebrovascular disorders and neuroprotection with vinpocetine.
Ideggyogy Sz. 2003.
Vinpocetine has been found to interfere with various stages of the ischemic cascade: ATP depletion, activation of voltage-sensitive Na(+)- and Ca(++)-channels, glutamate and free radicals release. The inhibition of the voltage-sensitive Na(+)-channels appears to be especially relevant to its neuroprotective effect. Pronounced antioxidant activity of the drug could also contribute to the neuroprotection. PET studies in primates and man showed that 11C labelled vinpocetine passes the blood-brain barrier rapidly. Heterogeneous brain distribution of the compound was observed mainly in the thalamus, basal ganglia, occipital, parietal and temporal cortex, regions which are closely related to the cognitive functions. PET studies in chronic ischemic stroke patients revealed favourable effects of vinpocetine on rCBF and glucose metabolism in the thalamus, basal ganglia and primary visual cortex. It seems, vinpocetine could be of benefit for the treatment in this early stage of cerebrovascular disease and may also become a new therapeutic approach to prophylactic neuroprotection in patients at high risk of ischemic stroke.

Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
I have not seen enough studies regarding vinpocetine and tinnitus to know for sure whether it is of benefit, but if other medical treatment options have failed, and your doctor approves, it is worth a try.

Availability as a supplement
Vinpocetine is sold in 5 and 10 mg capsules or tablets. You can find it online or in health food stores.

Absorption and distribution in the brain
Human positron emission tomography with oral 11C-vinpocetine
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Psychiatry Section, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. Orv Hetil. 2003.
The authors wished to investigate the kinetics and distribution of vinpocetine in the brain and body after oral administration with PET in order to prove, that PET is useful in the non-invasive in vivo determination of these parameters. Vinpocetine was labelled with carbon-11 and the radioactivity was measured by PET in the stomach, liver, brain, colon and kidneys in healthy male volunteers. After oral administration, [11C] vinpocetine appeared immediately in the stomach and within minutes in the liver and the blood. In the blood the level of radioactivity continuously increased until the end of the measurement period, whereas the fraction of the unchanged mother compound decreased. Radioactivity uptake and distribution in the brain were demonstrable from the tenth minute after the oral administration of the labelled drug (average maximum uptake: 0.7% of the administered total dose). Brain distribution was heterogeneous (with preferences in the thalamus, basal ganglia and occipital cortex). 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.
 

Recommendations and review
Vinpocetine appears to be beneficial in cognitive disorders that are due to poor blood flow to the brain. Therefore, individuals with atherosclerotic vascular disease are probably the most likely to benefit. Until long-term studies are available, regular intake for prolonged periods should be limited to 5 mg or 10 mg once daily.

My experience with this supplement
I like the effects from vinpocetine. On 5 mg, I notice improvement in concentration and focus and enhancement of color perception peaking at about two hours after dosing. Thereafter, the effects gradually decrease but persist for a few hours. I do not notice any significant changes in mood or energy levels, although on higher dosages there is a brief period of feeling uneasy. Patients often report an enhancement of visual and auditory perception, along with better focus and clarity of thinking. If I take more than 10 mg I notice side effects that include a feeling of lightheadedness, dizziness or nausea.

Use by children or teenagers
Are here any precautions or known side effects or contra indications in use vinpocetine by adolescent or younger children.
    I’m not familiar with research regarding its use in children.

My 7 year old daughter has mild spastic dyplasia and has a hard time focusing on simple tasks. Would it be something that may help her?
    Vinpocetine is a good mind booster, mostly working as a dilator of blood vessels in the brain. It also helps improve vision. I have not come across any studies with its use in this condition and my educated guess would be that it may not have an effect but I can't be sure.

Combination with other dietary supplements
Do vinpocetine and ginkgo biloba herbal extract work well together?
   Since they work by different mechanisms, half the amount of each taken together seems reasonable.

Withdrawal symptoms
I started with vinpocetine and stayed on it for several months. Amazing I noticed a new clarity for a day or so when I began. The problem I had was when I went off. Head flutters for two weeks, (I thought I was coming down with a head-cold). Sometimes, I thought I was going to faint. I thought this vinpocetine side effect was permanent for a few days and was ready to go to an MD. But it passed.