What is Vinpocetine?
Vinpocetine is a nootropic and a dietary supplement that has been used for the purpose of boosting cognitive health for nearly forty years throughout Europe. Neurohackers report improved memory and reduced brain fog thanks to this supplement.
Vinpocetine is a biosynthetic compound derived from the molecule Vincamine found in the Periwinkle plant. It is both safer and more effective than Vincamine.
It is widely used in Europe as the prescription drug Cavinton for treatment of epilepsy, stroke, and age-related cognitive decline. (2,5) In the US you can find it sold through online nootropic vendors.
It is a neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory agent that many neurohackers use to help with memory, attention, mood, and energy. It may also help with headaches, ADHD, and anxiety.
As one of the safest nootropics on the market, many users will stack it with other nootropics to achieve an optimal stack. One of the most common stacks is with Ginkgo Biloba, an herbal nootropic supplement.
How Does it Work?
Evidence suggests that this supplement works in the following ways:
- Increases cerebral blood flow, which boost the delivery of oxygen, glucose, and nutrients to the brain
- Protects the brain from toxins and excess stimulation through antioxidant effects (4)
- Alters the production of neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, dopamine, and glutamate
- Reduces brain inflammation
The majority of pharmaceutical and nootropic benefits are thought to be thanks to increased blood flow to the brain, which occurs without a similar effect in the rest of the body. This is beneficial as increased systemic blood flow can lead to high blood pressure and related side effects and dangers.
This increase in cerebral blood flow delivers oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients important for optimal brain metabolism, function, and overall health. In the brain, it has been shown to boost oxygen and glucose uptake and increase ATP production. (3)
An increase in ATP production leads to improved cellular metabolism, and may help to increase energy and mental clarity.
Antioxidant and Neurotransmitter Effects
By interacting with calcium, sodium, and potassium ion channels, this supplement suppresses excess neurotransmitter release, protecting brain cells. Toxins are capable of stimulating the release of too much dopamine and glutamate in the brain. This excitatory neurotransmission can lead to oxidative damage, damaging and killing neurons.
The antioxidant effects are greater than just protecting from excess glutamate and dopamine. Studies have found that this compound fights reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation.
Damage caused by ROS and lipid peroxidation are tied to the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. These include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
These antioxidant effects are partly to thank for its role in protecting the brain from age-related cognitive decline.
Brain health is also enhanced through its anti-inflammatory properties. This may help to protect against age-related decline, related neurodegenerative diseases, and numerous disease states associated with chronic inflammation. (3) Overall cognitive function many also increase with reduction of neuronal inflammation.
Benefits and Uses
This herbal nootropic is widely used by neurohackers for memory improvement. There have not been many studies to confirm this use in healthy adults, but user reviews support this theory.
One study on healthy humans found improved reaction time with oral supplementation. (1) In this study, twelve healthy women between 25 and 40 were given either placebo or 10, 20, or 40 mg of Vinpocetine for three days. On the third day the subjects completed numerous psychological tests to determine cognitive effects of the drug.
It was found that those who took 40 mg/day performed significantly better than those in the placebo group in reaction time. Improved reaction time suggests an increase in memory acquisition and working memory.
Memory benefits have also been found in clinical trials and human studies for those with dementia and epilepsy. (2,6,7)
Focus and ADHD
In a study examining the effects of oral supplementation in patients with chronic brain ischemia, it was found that Vinpocetine increased both attention and concentration. (2)
It is hypothesized that the increase in blood flow to the brain may help those suffering from ADHD. By boosting the health and resources available to the brain, attention and focus are likely to be enhanced. These benefits may extend to the healthy population, although more studies are needed to confirm.
Anxiety, Depression, and Mood
User experiences support the role of Vinpocetine in positive mood regulation. In a study on patients with chronic brain ischemia, daily supplementation led to improvements in mood and related activities. (2)
The increase in cerebral blood flow paired with the antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties could explain positive effects for those suffering from anxiety and depression. Overall, mood and outlook on life may be lifted.
Many people today suffer from a persistent feeling of brain fog characterized by lack of energy and clarity of thought. In one animal study Vinpocetine was found to enhance alertness in rats without impacting sleep. (9)
Brain fog is thought to be the outcome of numerous processes. Vinpocetine improves cellular metabolism, or your cells ability to make ATP. This increased ‘brain fuel’ may also help to improve mental clarity.
Increased cerebral blood flow and antioxidant activities may also play a role.
Many of the diseases of our time are characterized by chronic inflammation. These include arthritis, cancer, Crohn's disease, chronic pain and fatigue, and cardiovascular disease. Traditional medicines are largely ineffective and come with many detrimental side effects.
In vitro and in vivo evidence suggests that Vinpocetine inhibits inflammation through numerous pathways. (3) This wide-reaching antiinflammatory action may be beneficial as a therapy for these conditions.
Vinpocetine infusions boost cerebral blood flow without systemically altering pressure. This effect is hypothesized to reduce headache frequency.
Extracts of Vincamine, the compound in the Periwinkle plant that Vinpocetine is derived from, has demonstrated efficacy in treating headaches. (6)
Side Effects and Dangers
Vinpocetine is considered safe and well tolerated. No significant side effects of oral use have been reported by users or found in clinical trials, however the longest clinical trial was one year.
Injection has led to dangerous falls in blood pressure and heart rate, and topical application has caused skin allergies in some.
Some of the side effects reported include:
- Sleep problems
- Gastrointestinal trouble
You may experience a mild stimulatory effect that tends to decline the longer you take this nootropic.
Because of the blood flow effects of this drug, it may not be safe for those with bleeding disorders or those who are about to undergo surgery. It is possible that it may interfere with blood clotting.
Click here for a list of pharmaceutical interactions.
Vinpocetine has a short half-life of just less than 1.5 hours, with no detectable increase in plasma levels of its metabolite after four hours of ingestion. (8) Because of this short half-life, it is recommended to divide your dose throughout the day.
For neuroprotective purposes, the recommended dose is between 15-60 mg/day, split into three doses. It should be taken with food to enhance absorption.
Taking more than 40 mg/day may actually dampen the nootropic effects. It’s generally recommended to take a total of 10-30 mg/day, taking 40 mg/day only on days when you need an extra memory boost.
If you are adding to a nootropic stack, a lower dosage is advised.
While many users report feeling nootropic effects right away, others report days to weeks before benefits kicked in. Many of the benefits are cumulative, so it is recommended to use it daily for extended periods of time to see optimal results.
Vinpocetine Reddit Reviews
“It offers increased clarity and focus, as well as improved working memory, problem-solving, and insight (this was the big one for me)” -Reddit user review - 20-40 mg/day
“I just started taking this stuff about a week ago at doses of 10mg 1-2 times a day with a meal. It seems pretty effective for increasing reflexes/coordination which is what I wanted." -Reddit user review
Comparisons and Combinations
Vinpocetine functions amazingly well as part of a stack. This impeccable stacking ability is thanks to its safety profile and ability to increase mental energy, clarity, memory, and cellular metabolism.
Vinpocetine vs Ginkgo Biloba
Both Ginkgo Biloba and Vinpocetine are natural nootropic supplements used to boost memory and improve cognitive health.
Ginkgo Biloba is one of the most common supplements used worldwide, and for good reason. It has played an important role in Chinese herbal medicine, and is one of the most thoroughly-researched natural herbal supplements.
Ginkgo Biloba and Vinpocetine both increase cerebral blood flow and act as antioxidants. Both have been found to decrease blood viscosity, with Ginkgo strengthening the blood vein walls and Vinpocetine slightly dilating brain blood vessels.
When it comes to differences between these two compounds, Vinpocetine helps to boost mental energy and clarity thanks to improved cellular metabolism through increased ATP production. Ginkgo Biloba offers benefits as an anxiolytic. It’s benefits for anxiety disorders have been confirmed in human studies. (11)
Another difference is the impact on neurotransmitters. Vinpocetine helps to protect from damage caused by excess dopamine and glutamate. Ginkgo Biloba leads to an increase in dopamine, which can be helpful with conditions such as anxiety and ADHD.
If you were to pick just one of these supplements, Ginkgo Biloba may be the best option thanks to extensive research into its mechanisms and efficacy.
But as a neurohacker, why would you need to pick just one?
Ginkgo Biloba with Vinpocetine
Each of these natural supplements offers nootropic benefits on their own, as validated by research and user experiences. Using them together, however, has been shown to be even more effective.
In one study of a compound containing both of these nootropics, it was found that together they demonstrated an ability to increase the speed of short-term working memory in healthy adults. (12)
This combination is so effective that there are supplements available that combine them: TruNature is a readily available supplement that combines 120 mg of Ginkgo Biloba with 5 mg of Vinpocetine.
With this stack you may experience:
- Heightened mental clarity
- Improved memory
- Increased ability to focus
- More energy without jitters
- Reduced anxiety
- Benefits for ADHD
Some users are wary of the decrease in dopamine caused by Vinpocetine. Research suggests that baseline dopamine levels are not hindered - only when there is a stressor causing harmful excess dopamine release does this action kick in. However, for those that are concerned, Ginkgo Biloba is known to increase dopamine.
- 10-20 mg/day Vinpocetine, split into 2-3 doses
- 100-500 mg Ginkgo Biloba, taken in one dose early in the day
Vinpocetine and Adderall
While both of these drugs increase blood flow to the brain, the way that Vinpocetine does so is unique. Unlike Adderall, which increases systemic blood flow through vasodilation, this drug boosts blood flow specifically to the brain.
This is beneficial when it comes to blood pressure - you may experience increased blood pressure with Adderall, but not Vinpocetine.
While Vinpocetine doesn’t offer the stimulation of Adderall, you may find similar benefits by combining Vinpocetine and caffeine. This stack will come with vastly fewer side effects.
Best Vinpocetine Supplements and Where to Buy Online
You will have more luck finding Periwinkle supplements at the pharmacy than Vinpocetine. Online retailers are the most reliable way to find quality nootropic supplements.
Amazon carries two of the best Vinpocetine supplements: Source Naturals and Life Extension. Another great option is the online retailer Absorb Your Health.
The legal status of Vinpocetine varies from one country to another:
- Australia and Canada: Banned - not legal to sell
- Europe and Japan: Generally considered a drug; requires a prescription
- US: Not allowed to be sold as a “dietary supplement,” but still legal and available for purchase through specific online vendors.
- Psychopharmacological effects of vinpocetine in normal healthy volunteers https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3899677
- Efficacy of vinpotropile in the therapy of initial signs of cerebrovascular pathology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21183904
- Vinpocetine inhibits...inflammation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2906898/
- Synaptosomal response to oxidative stress: effects of vinpocetine https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10715760000300061
- Effect and tolerance of vinpocetine in ambulant patients suffering from mild to moderate organic psychosyndromes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2071888/
- Efficacy of vinpotropile in the therapy of initial signs of cerebrovascular pathology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21183904
- Effect of Vinpocetine (Cognitol) on cognitive performance of a Nigerian population https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4160700/
- Pharmacokinetics of vinpocetine and its main metabolite apovincaminic acid before and after the chronic oral administration of vinpocetine to humans https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2384112
- Effect of vinpocetine on the sleep-wake cycle of rats https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ddr.430140326
- Vinpocetine increases cerebral blood flow and oxygenation in stroke patients: a near infrared spectroscopy…. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12044859
- Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761 in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16808927
- Cognitive effects of ginkgo biloba/vinpocetine compound in normal adults https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12404561