The Human Brain

One of the most amazing organs in the entire earth is the human brain. Acting as a biological supercomputer, the brain in crucial to essentially every function in our body. From basic mechanical skills to memory and thought, our brain does it all. The brain in comprised of approximately one hundred billion neurons, which are specific nerve cells. These cells transmit information through electrochemical pulses, and are dependent on blood flow for their oxygen and nutrients. All of the inner workings of the brain, such as thought and memory, are known as cognitive function. Vinpocetine has been proven to help the brain’s cognitive performance, which relates to many different daily functions that you might perform throughout the day.

      Vinpocetine is a powerful memory enhancer. It facilitates cerebral metabolism by improving cerebral microcirculation (blood flow), stepping up brain cell ATP production (ATP is the cellular energy molecule), and increasing utilization of glucose and oxygen.  What all this means is that vinpocetine shares many of the effects of several other cognitive enhancers.  Vinpocetine is synthesized from the periwinkle plant, and since 1978 it has been used widely in Europe, Russia, and Japan due to its ability to improve blood flow to the brain. It helps protect brain cells from excitotoxic stress while boosting energy levels in the brain. A number of human studies support the use of vinpocetine to boost cognitive performance. It has recently demonstrated the ability to regulate the core inflammatory gene signal, NF-kappaB, while also working to boost the primary neurotransmitter related to memory, acetylcholine.

Vinpocetine (pronounced vin-poe-ce-teen), is a nutritional supplement derived from the periwinkle plant. It has just recently become available in the U.S. through food, drug and mass market retailers as a nutritional supplement. The supplement is already very much in use in Europe, where physicians believe it is far more effective than other supplements — such as ginkgo biloba — used for memory and brain function. Vinpocetine actually contains many of the same cerebral-enhancing effects as ginkgo biloba, but has been shown to be more effective in much shorter time.

How Does it Enhance Mental Function?

Blood vessels in the brain and body can undergo changes over time. Plaque buildup can narrow the channels in which blood is able to flow through as we age and/or if our diets are high in cholesterol and saturated fats. Chronic high blood pressure has the ability to enlarge the muscle layer of the blood vessel while thinning the channel in which blood flows through. In addition, the blood vessels can become less elastic which prevents them from fully being able to regulate blood flow. All of these effects can result in decreased blood flow to and within the brain which may lead to areas of the brain receiving insufficient amounts of blood, oxygen, nutrients and glucose (the brain’s fuel).

 

Vinpocetine inhibits the activity of an enzyme (phosphodiesterase type 1) that contracts blood vessels. It also reduces the amount of calcium ions in plasma, which is the fluid that fills the area between cells in a blood vessel. These two effects allows brain blood vessels to relax and allows more blood flow leading to increased glucose and oxygen uptake, which provides the brain with more energy to use on its processes. In addition, by inhibiting  phosphodiesterase type 1 and reducing the amount of calcium ions in the plasma, vinpocetine also reduces the thickness of blood, allowing it to flow more readily to and from the brain. Viagra™ is an example of a pharmaceutical drug that inhibits phosphodiesterase (type 5) function to promote increased blood flow to certain parts of the body

What is the Recommended Dose and Are There Side Effects?

The recommended dosage of vinpocetine is between 5 mg to 15 mg, 3 times a day. No serious side effects have been reported in the clinical trials performed. However, vinpocetine should not be taken by anyone currently taking medications that affect blood platelets such as blood thinners, anti-coagulants, aspirin, etc., because the supplement already affects how these cells (platelets) function.