Vinpocetine is a man-made chemical. Its structure is similar to a substance found in the periwinkle plant. People use vinpocetine as medicine.
People use vinpocetine for improving memory and thinking skills, boosting energy, for weight loss, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
How does it work?
It is not known exactly how vinpocetine works, but it might increase blood flow to the brain and offer some protection for brain cells (neurons) against injury.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, that interfere with thinking. Vinpocetine might have a small effect on the decline of thinking skills due to various causes, but most studies have lasted 4 months or less. Most of the studies were published prior to 1990, and results are hard to interpret because they used a variety of terms and criteria for cognitive decline and dementia.
- An eye disease that leads to vision loss in older adults (age-related macular degeneration or AMD). AMD is a condition that causes vision loss in some older people. Early research shows that taking vinpocetine by mouth for 2 months might improve vision in people with AMD.
- Hearing loss. Early research shows that giving vinpocetine intravenously (by IV) for 10 days does not improve hearing in people with hearing loss.
- Memory. Early research suggests that vinpocetine might enhance memory in healthy volunteers. Taking vinpocetine along with ginkgo also appears to improve short-term memory in healthy adults.
- Stroke. There is some evidence that vinpocetine might slightly reduce brain damage due to acute ischemic stroke. There have been only a few clinical studies investigating the use of vinpocetine for stroke, and most have been published in languages other than English. Scientific reviews of these studies found there wasn't enough agreement among the studies to establish the effectiveness of vinpocetine for ischemic stroke.
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Some early research suggests that giving vinpocetine by mouth and intravenously (by IV) along with physiotherapy might reduce ringing in the ears. However, giving vinpocetine by IV appears to be less effective than the drug nicergoline in reducing ringing in the ears caused by intense sound.
- Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence). Early research shows that taking vinpocetine for 2 weeks might reduce the number of times a person with bedwetting and urine control problems needs to urinate during the day or at night.
- Alzheimer disease.
- Motion sickness.
- Seizure disorders (epilepsy).
- Symptoms of menopause.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of vinpocetine for these uses.
Side Effects & Safety
When taken by mouth: Vinpocetine is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth appropriately, short-term. Vinpocetine can cause some side effects including stomach pain, nausea, sleep disturbances, headache, dizziness, nervousness, and flushing of the face.
When given by IV or as a shot: Vinpocetine is POSSIBLY SAFE when given by IV or as a shot under the care of a health care provider. It might cause irregular or rapid heartbeat in some people. It might also cause a person's blood pressure to become high or low for a short period of time.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy: Vinpocetine is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used in pregnant women or those who may become pregnant. Vinpocetine might increase the risk of miscarriage and might cause harm to the fetus. Avoid using.
Breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if vinpocetine is safe to use when breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Surgery: Vinpocetine might slow blood clotting. There is a concern that it might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using vinpocetine at least 2 weeks before you are scheduled for surgery.
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