Vinpocetine: Review of Nootropic Benefits, Uses, Dosage, & Side Effects

Updated on March 1, 2024
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)
Overview of Vinpocetine's nootropic benefits and uses, highlighting cognitive enhancement and potential side effects.

Welcome to our comprehensive review of Vinpocetine, a fascinating compound derived from the periwinkle plant, Vinca minor.

In this article, we delve into the multifaceted world of Vinpocetine, exploring its role as a dietary supplement and its impact on brain function, learning and memory. 

Recognized for its potential to enhance memory and support cognitive function, Vinpocetine has garnered attention in both clinical studies and as a popular nootropic.

Originating as an alkaloid vincamine derivative, Vinpocetine is also known for its ability to improve cerebral blood flow, thereby enhancing oxygen and nutrient delivery to brain cells. 

Could this be the perfect new addition to your wellness routine? 

Let’s find out!

What is Vinpocetine?

Vinpocetine (also known as Cognitol, AY-27255, Cavinton Forte, Vinca minor, Apovincaminic Acid, and Eburnamenine-14-Carboxylic Acid) is a synthetic chemical derivative of the alkaloid vincamine, which is naturally found in the common periwinkle plant (Vinca minor). Vinpocetine was first isolated in Europe in the late 20th century and has since gained recognition as a dietary supplement to increase brain activity and improve memory.

One of the primary actions of Vinpocetine is to increase cerebral blood flow. This is achieved through its vasodilatory effects on the blood vessels, which reduce blood pressure and viscosity. Enhanced red and white blood flow to the brain improves oxygen and nutrient delivery, which is crucial for optimal brain function.

There is ongoing research about Vinpocetine in the treatment of cerebrovascular disorders such as stroke and dementia.(1) Its ability to improve cerebral blood circulation is beneficial in conditions characterized by reduced blood flow to the brain.

Vinpocetine also exhibits neuroprotective properties, helping to protect brain cells from damage caused by oxidative stress and other harmful factors. This makes it a subject of interest in the potential treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.

Due to its effects on cerebral blood flow and neuroprotection, Vinpocetine is often used to enhance memory and cognitive functions. It is beneficial in improving concentration, memory, and overall mental clarity.

Lastly, Vinpocetine acts as a PDE inhibitor, which contributes to its role in increasing blood flow and exhibiting neuroprotective effects. By inhibiting PDE, it helps modulate neurotransmitter levels and neuronal signaling to improve cognition.

Generally, Vinpocetine as a drug is considered safe when used as a dietary supplement within the recommended dosages.

Vinpocetine’s ability to improve blood flow, protect neurons, support memory, and enhance cognitive functions makes it a popular choice among nootropic products. 

Pros:

  • Boosts cognitive performance by stimulating neurotransmitter activity
  • Promotes a healthy brain by providing neuroprotective properties
  • Enhances blood flow to the brain, improving oxygen and nutrient delivery
  • Acts as a PDE inhibitor that modulates neuronal signaling.

Cons:

  • There is a lack of information from human clinical trials to confirm the long-term safety and efficacy
  • Not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)

Mechanism of Action

Vinpocetine’s mechanism of action is multifaceted, contributing to its various neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects. Understanding how Vinpocetine works at the molecular and cellular levels can help explain its benefits and potential uses. 

Here’s a breakdown of its primary mechanisms:

  1. Cerebral Blood Flow Enhancement: Vinpocetine is a vasodilator that specifically targets cerebral circulation. It increases blood flow to the brain by dilating blood vessels and reducing blood viscosity. Enhanced cerebral blood flow ensures better oxygen and nutrient delivery to brain cells, which is crucial for optimal brain function.
  2. Ion Channel Modulation: Vinpocetine has been shown to modulate the activity of certain ion channels, including sodium and calcium channels in the brain. These channels play a crucial role in the generation and propagation of seizures. By modulating these channels, Vinpocetine might help in stabilizing neuronal excitability.(2)
  3. Neuroprotection: Vinpocetine exhibits neuroprotective properties, helping safeguard brain cells against damage caused by oxidative stress and excessive neurotoxicity. This protection is partly due to its antioxidant effects, which mitigate the harmful impact of free radicals on neurons.
  4. Inhibition of Phosphodiesterase (PDE): Vinpocetine acts as a phosphodiesterase inhibitor, particularly PDE1. This inhibition leads to increased levels of cyclic AMP (cAMP) and cyclic GMP (cGMP), important signaling molecules in the brain. Elevated cAMP and cGMP levels enhance neural signaling, memory formation, metabolism, and various cognitive processes.
  5. Modulation of Ion Channels: Vinpocetine modulates the activity of certain ion channels, including sodium and calcium channels. By inhibiting these channels, it reduces neuronal excitability and potentially prevents excitotoxicity, which is beneficial in conditions like stroke and epilepsy.
  6. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: It also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, reducing inflammation in the brain, which is a contributing factor in various neurodegenerative diseases.
  7. Influence on Neurotransmitter Systems: While not its primary mechanism, Vinpocetine may also influence certain neurotransmitter systems, indirectly affecting cognitive functions like memory and attention. By making more neurons available, this action supports mental clarity. 
  8. Reduction of Pathological Blood Clotting: By inhibiting platelet aggregation and reducing blood viscosity, Vinpocetine may help in preventing pathological clot formation, which is beneficial in reducing the risk of stroke, memory loss, and other cerebrovascular disorders.

Nootropic Benefits of Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine offers a range of nootropic benefits largely due to its effects on cerebral blood flow and brain metabolism. 

Here is a list of its primary nootropic benefits.

1. Improved Cerebral Blood Flow

Vinpocetine enhances blood circulation to the brain, increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery, which is essential for healthy brain function and cognitive performance.(3)

2. Enhanced Memory and Learning

By improving cerebral blood flow and oxygenation, Vinpocetine supports memory formation and learning processes, making it beneficial for students and professionals alike.

3. Neuroprotection

It offers neuroprotective benefits by safeguarding brain cells from oxidative stress and potential damage, which is crucial for long-term cognitive health.

4. Increased Mental Clarity and Alertness

Users often report improved mental clarity and alertness, likely due to enhanced blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain.

5. Support in Cognitive Impairments 

Vinpocetine shows promise in supporting cognitive function in individuals with conditions like dementia or after stroke, potentially aiding in recovery and rehabilitation.(4)

Vinpocetine’s neuroprotective properties may help in slowing down age-related cognitive decline, making it a valuable supplement for older adults.

7. Potential Mood Enhancement

While more research is needed, some studies suggest Vinpocetine has a positive impact on mood, further supporting overall cognitive well-being.(5)

8. Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Vinopetine’s anti-inflammatory properties contribute to overall brain health, as chronic inflammation is linked to various cognitive impairments.

9. Improved Concentration and Focus

By facilitating cerebral metabolism and blood flow, Vinpocetine helps enhance focus and concentration, especially in tasks requiring sustained mental effort.(6)

Uses of Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine has various uses, particularly in the realm of cognitive enhancement and neuroprotection.

Here are some of the key uses of Vinpocetine:

  1. Cognitive Enhancement: One of the primary uses of Vinpocetine is for cognitive enhancement. It is believed to improve memory, attention, and overall mental acuity, making it popular among students and professionals.
  2. Treatment of Cerebrovascular Disorders: Vinpocetine is used in the treatment of cerebrovascular disorders such as stroke and dementia. Its ability to enhance cerebral blood flow and reduce neuronal damage is beneficial in these conditions.
  3. Neuroprotective Agent: Its neuroprotective properties make Vinpocetine a potential candidate for protecting neurons against damage from oxidative stress and aging, thereby possibly preventing or slowing neurodegenerative diseases.
  4. Memory Disorders: Due to its effects on memory and learning, Vinpocetine is often used to alleviate symptoms of memory disorders. This includes age-related memory decline and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
  5. Enhancing Brain Metabolism: Vinpocetine improves brain metabolism by increasing glucose and oxygen utilization in brain cells, which can enhance brain function and resilience.
  6. Migraine and Headache Relief: Some users find Vinpocetine helpful in relieving migraines and headaches, likely due to its vasodilatory effects and ability to enhance cerebral circulation.
  7. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Its anti-inflammatory properties are utilized in reducing inflammation in the brain, which can be beneficial in various neurological conditions.
  8. Eyesight Improvement: Vinpocetine may also have applications in improving eyesight or treating certain eye disorders, owing to its effects on blood circulation.
  9. Adjunct in Stroke Recovery: It is sometimes used as an adjunct therapy in stroke recovery, helping to restore blood flow to areas of the brain affected by ischemia.

Where to Buy Vinpocetine

It can take up a lot of time to search through the proverbial ‘hay bail’ that is the online nootropics market. Finding a reliable vendor is tricky, like finding a needle in a haystack. Some vendors are scammers, others are selling low-grade nootropics and some are providing no third-party testing. 

Luckily, we searched for you.

After in-depth testing, our pick for the top vendor is PureNootropics.Net.

With great customer reviews, affordable prices, a worldwide market, third-party testing, and shipping to your door, this company ticks all our boxes!

Vinpocetine Dosage

Here are some general guidelines for your daily Vinpocetine dosage:

  • Standard Dosage Range: The typical dosage of Vinpocetine ranges from 5 to 20 milligrams (mg) per day. This dosage can be divided into two or three smaller doses throughout the day.
  • Starting Dose: Many individuals start with a lower dose, such as 5 mg per day, to assess tolerance. If well-tolerated, the dosage can be gradually increased.
  • Cognitive Enhancement: For cognitive enhancement or neuroprotection, a common dosage is 10 to 20 mg per day, often divided into two or three doses.
  • Medical Conditions: In the case of specific medical conditions like cerebrovascular disorders, the dosage may vary, and it’s essential to follow a healthcare provider’s recommendation.

Vinpocetine Side Effects & Safety

While Vinpocetine is generally well-tolerated, especially when used within recommended dosages, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects and safety considerations.

Here’s an overview of the known side effects associated with Vinpocetine:

  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Blood pressure changes

Safety concerns include: 

  • Immune System Effects: There’s some evidence suggesting Vinpocetine may suppress certain functions of the immune system, although this is not conclusively established.
  • Allergic Reactions: As with any supplement, allergic reactions are possible, though relatively rare. Symptoms could include rash, itching, or swelling.
  • Bleeding Risk: Vinpocetine has antiplatelet properties, which can increase the risk of bleeding, especially in combination with blood-thinning medications like warfarin or aspirin.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: It’s not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of sufficient safety data.
  • Interactions with Other Medications: Vinpocetine may interact with certain medications, especially those affecting blood pressure, blood clotting, and other cardiovascular medications.

Summary

In conclusion, Vinpocetine, derived from the periwinkle plant, Vinca minor, is a notable compound in the realm of cognitive enhancement and neuroprotection.

Vinpocetine’s ability to improve cerebral blood flow, along with its neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties, positions it as a valuable supplement for those seeking to improve their cognitive function and brain health.

The range of potential benefits of Vinpocetine, from enhancing memory and mental clarity to potentially aiding in the treatment of cerebrovascular disorders, makes it a subject of significant interest.

Given its varied effects, Vinpocetine should be used thoughtfully and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, especially for individuals with existing health conditions or those taking medication.

FAQs

What is the elimination half-life of Unifiram?

After oral administration, Vinpocetine typically reaches peak plasma concentration relatively quickly, often within 1 to 2 hours.

What is the elimination half-life of Vinpocetine?

The elimination half-life of Vinpocetine, a synthetic alkaloid derived from the periwinkle plant (Vinca minor), is relatively short. It is approximately 1 to 2 hours.

Should you cycle Vinpocetine?

Yes. A typical cycling pattern might involve using Vinpocetine for several weeks or months, followed by a break for a few weeks. However, the optimal cycle length can vary based on individual experiences and needs. It’s always best to personalize this approach based on your response and, ideally, under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Can I stack Vinpocetine with other nootropics?

Vinpocetine is often stacked with other popular nootropics like racetams (Piracetam, Aniracetam), choline sources (Alpha GPC, Citicoline), and natural supplements (like Ginkgo Biloba or Bacopa Monnieri). These combinations can enhance various aspects of cognitive function, like memory, focus, and mental clarity.


Sources, Studies, and Scientific Research
  1. Khalil, Nasr Y et al. “Vinpocetine (A comprehensive profile).” Profiles of drug substances, excipients, and related methodology vol. 47 (2022): 1-54. doi:10.1016/bs.podrm.2021.10.001 
  2. Gjerulfsen, Cathrine E et al. “Vinpocetine improved neuropsychiatric and epileptic outcomes in a patient with a GABRA1 loss-of-function variant.” Annals of clinical and translational neurology vol. 10,8 (2023): 1493-1498. doi:10.1002/acn3.51838 
  3. Zhang, Yi-Shuai et al. “An update on vinpocetine: New discoveries and clinical implications.” European journal of pharmacology vol. 819 (2018): 30-34. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2017.11.041 
  4. Szatmari, S Z, and P J Whitehouse. “Vinpocetine for cognitive impairment and dementia.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews vol. 2003,1 (2003): CD003119. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003119 
  5. Ogunrin, Ao. “Effect of vinpocetine (cognitol™) on cognitive performances of a nigerian population.” Annals of medical and health sciences research vol. 4,4 (2014): 654-61. doi:10.4103/2141-9248.139368 
  6. Meador, Kimford J et al. “Vinpocetine, cognition, and epilepsy.” Epilepsy & behavior : E&B vol. 119 (2021): 107988. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2021.107988 
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