Vinpocetine is a derivative of a well-known drug, vincamine, which is made from the periwinkle plant. This drug was initially discovered in the late twentieth century by the Hungarian scientist Csaba Szantay. The drug is sold as a dietary supplement in the USA. It is sold in Europe under the trade name, Cavinton.
How It Works
This drug is known for its potent effects on memory enhancement. The drug improves the blood flow in the brain thereby enhancing the flow of blood to individual neurons. This increase helps the amount of energy produced by the brain cells, a molecule known as ATP. The improved blood flow also helps the brain to use glucose and oxygen more efficiently.
What It Means
This response means that vinpocetine enhances the cognitive ability of the brain. By helping the mind receive adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrients, the brain can process impulses optimally leading to an increase in mental energy. Many people using vinpocetine claim increased short term memory function and the slowing of symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This slowing has allowed patients to maintain normal activities for a longer period of time.
Vinpocetine has also been seen to improve circulatory problems in other circumstances. These include memory disorders, stroke, headaches, aphasia, apraxia, motor problems and Cerebro-vestibular problems which lead balance issues. Moreover, the drug has also been seen to improve sensorineural hearing impairments.
The Gedeon Richter company in Hungary has funded several vinpocetine studies. In one series having close to nine hundred participants, a marked improvement was noted in sixty-two percent of patients with brain disorders ranging from stroke to cerebral insufficiency. In an individual study, some of the patients were asked to memorize ten words. Before taking vinpocetine the patients were able to memorize an average of six words. After taking the supplement for one month, the average increased to ten words. More double blind studies need to be conducted in order to determine the exact nature of the benefits of this supplement.
This drug causes side effects in less than one percent of patients using it orally. These side effects include weakness, tachycardia (rapid heart rate), and hypotension (low blood pressure).
Dietary supplements can interfere with prescription drugs either by diminishing or enhancing their effects. Before taking any supplements it is recommended that patients have a discussion with their doctor.