More forgetful? Remembering names becoming more difficult?  Wondering if there is anything to do to slow down the memory loss?  Discovered in the late 1960s, Vinpocetine is a synthetic ethyl ester of apovincamine, a vinca alkaloid obtained from the leaves of the Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor), that can offer a remedy for the increasing memory loss that commonly accompanies aging. 

The mechanism of action of Vinpocetine is unclear, but Vinpocetine demonstrates varied effects in the brain.   Clinical studies indicate that Vinpocetine both increases blood flow in the brain and increases glucose and oxygen consumption by the brain with increased brain metabolism [Source: Szakall].  The increased brain circulation may be due to enhanced cholinergic activity, which in turn increases cerebral energy, increases catecholamine activity [Source: Szatmari].  Vinpocetine is also thought to improve red blood cell deformability and inhibiting platelet aggregation, which can augment improved circulation [Source: Miyazaki].  In animal studies, Vinpocetine is protective against damage to nerves and death of nerve cells after episodes of cerebral ischemia [Source: Erdo, Rischke].   Research studies suggest that Vinpocetine treatment after acute ischemic stroke, improves patient outcomes [Source: Feigin].  Studies have shown Vinpocetine to be useful in elderly patients with chronic cerebral dysfunction and in patients with moderate organic psychological syndromes [Source: Hindmarch, Balestreri].  Vinpocetine is used in conjunction with other therapies, such as Alpha Lipoic Acid, N-Acetyl Cysteine and Phosphatidylserine for the prevention and treatment of memory loss [Source: Perlmutter].

When treating cognitive impairment due to dementia and vascular disease, doses of Vinpocetine of 5-10 mg three times daily has been used [Source: Hindmarch, Balestreri, Thal].  Vinpoctine plasma bioavailability improves when taken with food, rather than in a fasting state.  Therefore, Vinpocetine should be taken with food to enhance absorption and benefit [Source: Lohmann]. 

Vinpocetine is well tolerated, but may have anti-platelet effects.  Increase bleeding times have been noted with higher doses of Vinpocetin [Source: Miyazaki, Hitzenberger].  Therefore, Vinpocetine should be discontinued 14 days prior to all surgical procedures.