What is Vinpocetine?
Vinpocetine is a semi-synthetic compound extracted from the periwinkle plant. It has been used as a nutritional supplement for the brain, and has gained prominence as the “Viagra for the brain”. Reportedly first synthesized in the 1960s, it is commercially sold under the trade name “Cavinton” since 1978. The compound is known as a nootropic for enhancing memory and alertness.
The brain, being a central part of the human body, demands a constant blood supply in order to maintain its proper functioning. You can picture this with the fact that nearly one seventh of the heart’s total output is continuously supplied to the brain. If the blood supply to the brain is impaired due to any reason, the functioning of the brain can be compromised due to lack of oxygen, glucose and other essential nutrients. Vinpocetine comes forward to help in this case. It was reported by a number of investigators that vinpocetine facilitates a continuous blood flow, either by acting on blood vessels, or directly on blood cells.
How does Vinpocetine work?
A number of clinical trials have been performed to establish the use of Vinpocetine in cases of brain attacks, dementia, hearing disorders and in some cases of urinary incontinence. The compound has been shown to increase the blood flow to the brain, helping in preventing brain shocks. As a result of improved blood flow, an improvement in cognitive performance as well as visual and hearing functions is expected. Eventually the compound is reported as a supplement for boosting memory and brain functions in unstressed people.
Effects of Vinpocetine
The question is: how does vinpocetine facilitate continuous blood flow to the brain? The answer, is believed, lies in the two direct actions performed to the brain by the ingestion of Vinpocetine. It may reduce intracellular calcium levels, while inhibiting a specific type of enzyme, called PDE1. Both characteristics facilitate the relaxing of blood vessels, and allow an increased blood flow.
Moreover, when the blood supply is reduced, sodium is accumulated in the damaged brain cells. This causes oxidative stress to brain cells when the blood supply is restored. Vinpocetine prohibits the accumulation of sodium, thus can help protect the brain cells from oxidative stress and restoring cognitive functions after a brain shock. In short, Vinpocetine is helpful in three ways: increasing blood flow; neuroprotection during conditions of no blood supply; preventing oxidative stress after restoration of blood supply.
Studies have found that Vinpocetine therapy can significant improve memory and concentration .
Recommended Dosage / Usage Instructions
Recommendations vary, however most sources suggest 10mg a day.
Common side effects of Vinpocetine ingestion are similar to other nootropics i.e. headache, dizziness, dry mouth, indigestion, insomnia, nausea etc. Additionally, there may be a temporary drop in blood pressure. So it is recommended that the compound should not be taken without proper consultancy of a certified physician, whether you are using it as a drug or even as a supplement.
Precaution needs to be taken by pregnant and lactating women, patients with low blood pressure conditions and those with liver and kidney disorders. Consultancy is also necessary when using other medication, especially anti-clotting medications (e.g. Aspirin).
 - Effect of Vinpocetine on Cognitive Performances - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4160700/