Vinpocetine: Fountain of Youth

Do you ever wake up at night and wonder what hit you? Well, you might be very lucky to have woken up at all! By all accounts, you have just survived a massive stroke, and this has been your body's signal to you to do something about it fast.

There are scores of medications available on the market, and some of them can have pretty harmful side-effects leading to debilitating diseases that may even be terminal. As a result, people are increasingly turning to alternative forms of medicine with plant-based extracts that are thought to be less reactive when ingested.

What Is Vinpocetine: Its Origins

Vinpocetine which is contained in the Geniux capsule, is the latest drug to take the world of alternative medicine by storm with some patients swearing by its benefits and ability to treat a number of diseases. Specifically, it is taken from the seeds of the periwinkle an evergreen plant (Vinca Minor).

Vinpocetine is derived from the alkaloid Vincamine which is also found in tiny amounts in the seeds of the periwinkle. Vincamine has been used worldwide to successfully treat senility and dementia. Vinpocetine also exhibits the same uses but without the side effects.

Vinpocetine was first cut off from the periwinkle plant in 1975 by the Hungarian chemist Csaba Szántay. In 1978, the drug was commercially available from Richter Gedeon the Hungarian pharmaceutical company.

In its present form, Cavinton has been around for 27 years and is found in 47 countries, including Japan, Hungary, Germany, Poland, and Russia as a prescription drug. In the US, it is found in health stores and sold over the counter as a dietary supplement.

Specifically, Vinpocetine is extracted from the seeds of the periwinkle plant and is steadily gaining popularity for its use as an anti-ageing agent.

A veritable fountain of youth, Vinpocetine appears to be the ultimate panacea for an aging population or those who wish to retain their youth and good looks well into the autumn years of their lives.

What is Vinpocetine Used For?

Vinpocetine is used to treat a number of illnesses ranging from heart disease to Dementia, Alzheimer's and post-trauma tinnitus. The herbal extract has traditionally been used as a stress reliever and to treat dental problems and issues with menopause and seizures besides other symptoms of age-related diseases.

It is most well known for treating heart disease particularly in checking disability and even death from ischemic stroke is widely documented. Ischemic stroke is caused by a blood clot blocking oxygen flow to the brain thereby resulting in the death of neurons.

Vinpocetine is usually taken as a preventive measure and for the treatment of a stroke immediately after it happens to curb the harmful effects of oxygen deprivation.

The medicine is usually administered intravenously particularly in the treatment of seizures and to patients suffering from a stroke.

Stroke and Vascular Dementia

Some medical practitioners vouch for Vinpocetine's ability to increase the blood circulation by dilating the blood vessels and increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain. Some studies suggest that it may check brain impairment and dementia after a stroke.

Alzheimer's Syndrome

It is suggested that Vinpocetine may be able to be used as a supplementary medicine to combat Alzheimer's by its potential ability to inhibit phosphodiesterase, an enzyme active in promoting this debilitating disease.

Tinnitus

Studies also suggest that Vinpocetine may be helpful in fighting off tinnitus after trauma to the ear from accidents or injuries.

Downside: Not supported by scientific studies

Perhaps the biggest downside to Vinpocetine is the glaring lack of scientific evidence for its uses and benefits. For example, in the case of Alzheimer's the body of the study was considered too weak to rely on. However, this was more due to the design of the studies presented than the drug itself.

Vinpocetine's use as a memory-boosting drug in young people is also doubtful, and there is no real evidence to support this.

How Does It Work?

It is not exactly known how Vinpocetine works, but users have noted enhanced cognitive functions such as short and long-term memory; and its role in protecting heart, hearing, and visual functions

Side Effects

Vinpocetine does not show any serious side effects in humans although some patients reported headaches and indigestion if the dosage was slightly more than recommended. It also appears to be safe when taken with other medications.

But patients have reported negative effects such as indigestion, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia, headache, drowsiness and mouth dryness are among the most common. There is also one case of agranulocytosis (loss of certain white blood cells) documented in the medical literature.

But the more common side effects are:

  • a temporary drop in blood pressure
  • it is best avoided in pregnancy or during nursing
  • use of Vinpocetine in patients with bleeding disorders, prone to seizures or low blood pressure is not recommended
  • patients on other medications should exercise caution with taking Vinpocetine
  • patients who have had dental procedures must wait at least a fortnight before resuming intake of Vinpocetine
  • it is not recommended for patients on blood-thinning medication because Vinpocetine slows down platelets formation

Due to the lack of research on Vinpocetine, doctors are wary of prescribing the drug.

Other Issues

An issue with alternative medicines is that the supplements are largely unregulated. There may be different doses for different amounts of herbs that will impact their effectiveness.

Sometimes the product may be contaminated with metal or other harmful elements posing a danger to patients already suffering from some disorder.

Interestingly, Vinpocetine does not exist as a ‘natural product’. Its preparation in chemical laboratories is long and arduous, and its end result is anything but natural.

Studies show that Vincepocetine works better when taken after a meal.

Since there is not enough scientific evidence on the potential effects of Vinpocetine, doctors do not recommend it highly and certainly do not endorse its use as a substitute for any standard treatment. They also strongly advise patients to seek advice before embarking on any alternative treatment.