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Vinpocetine

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What other names is Vinpocetine known by?

AY-27255, Cavinton, Eburnamenine-14-carboxylic acid, Ethyl Apovincaminate, Ethylapovincaminoate, Ethyl Ester, RGH-4405, TCV-3b, Vinpocetin, Vinpocetina, Vinpocétine.

What is Vinpocetine?

Vinpocetine is a man-made chemical resembling a substance found in the periwinkle plant Vinca minor. People use it as medicine.

Vinpocetine production requires considerable laboratory work, stretching the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) definition of a dietary supplement. Vinpocetine is sold by prescription in Germany under the brand name Cavinton. It has also been referred to generically as cavinton. Although website advertising claims that "more than a hundred" safety and effectiveness studies have been funded by the Hungarian manufacturer Gedeon Richter, few double-blind controlled clinical studies have been published. Double-blind controlled clinical studies are considered the gold standard for establishing safety and effectiveness.

Because some people think vinpocetine might improve blood flow to the brain, it is used for enhancing memory and preventing Alzheimer's disease and other conditions that harm learning, memory, and information processing skills as people age.

Vinpocetine is also used for preventing and reducing the chance of disability and death from ischemic stroke. This is the type of stroke that occurs when a blood clot stops blood flow in the brain, causing brain cells (neurons) to die because they are not receiving oxygen. People try vinpocetine for preventing and treating stroke right after it happens because they think vinpocetine might help keep blood from clotting and might also protect neurons against the harmful effects of oxygen deprivation.

Other uses for vinpocetine include treating symptoms of menopause, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and seizure disorders; and preventing motion sickness.

Healthcare providers sometimes give vinpocetine intravenously (by IV) for treating seizure disorders and stroke.

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.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • An eye disease called age-related macular degeneration (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 suggests that giving vinpocetine intravenously (by IV) for 10 days does not improve hearing in people with hearing loss.
  • Dialysis (hemodialysis). Early research suggests that taking vinpocetine daily for up to one year reduces the build-up of calcium around the joints in people with kidney failure who require hemodialysis.
  • Improving memory. Early research suggests that vinpocetine might enhance memory in normal 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.
  • Bed-wetting and related urine control problems. Early research suggests that taking vinpocetine for 2 weeks might reduce the number of times a person with this condition needs to urinate during the day or at night.
  • Prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Motion sickness.
  • Symptoms of menopause.
  • Seizures.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of vinpocetine for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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