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Alzheimer's Disease and Vinpocetine

Read more about Vinpocetine.

Overview

Vinpocetine is a chemical derived from vincamine, which is found in the leaves of common periwinkle as well as the seeds of various African plants. It is used as a treatment for memory loss and mental impairment, which are associated with Alzheimer's disease symptoms.

Vincopetine is sold in Europe as drug named Cavinton. In the US, it is sold as a dietary supplement. Since Vincopetine doesn't exist in any significant extent in nature and requires significant chemical work to be produced, it could easily be categorized as a medication for Alzheimer's disease.

Effect of Vinpocetine on Alzheimer's Disease

Vinpocetine has been suggested to help people with Alzheimer’s disease by enhancing blood flow in the brain, safeguarding brain cells against damage, and inhibiting a substance known as phosphodiesterase.1-3

Research Evidence on Vinpocetine

A 16-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 203 individuals with mild to moderate dementia found significant benefit in the treated group.4 Benefits have been seen in other studies as well.5-10 However, a major review found that overall the evidence that it works remains too weak to rely upon, due to limitations in study quality.19

How to Use Vinpocetine

The usual dose of vinpocetine is 10 mg capsules 3 times per day, although dosages ranging from half to twice that amount have been used in studies. Vinpocetine reportedly is better absorbed when taken with a meal.13

Side Effects and Warnings

#Safety Issues

No serious side effects have been reported in any of the clinical trials. However, there is one case report of vinpocetine apparently causing agranulocytosis (loss of certain white blood cells). ^[1] Vinpocetine inhibits blood platelets from forming clots, ^[2] and for this reason it could cause problems if it is taken by individuals with bleeding problems, during the period immediately before or after surgery or labor and delivery, or in combination with medications or natural substances that also affect platelet activity, such as:

The drug warfarin (Coumadin) affects blood clotting, but not through actions on platelets. One study found only a minimal interaction between warfarin and vinpocetine. Interestingly, it was in the direction of decreased clotting. ^[12] Nonetheless, combination therapy with vinpocetine and warfarin should not be attempted except under the supervision of a physician.

Safety in pregnant or nursing women, young children, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.

#Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking:

  • Blood-thinning drugs, such as aspirin , clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine (Ticlid), or pentoxifylline (Trental): Simultaneous use of vinpocetine might cause bleeding problems.
  • Natural substances with blood-thinning properties, such as garlic , ginkgo , policosanol , or high-dose vitamin E : Simultaneous use of vinpocetine might in theory cause bleeding problems.
  • Warfarin (Coumadin): Vinpocetine might impair the action of the blood-thinning actions.

References

  1. Kiss B, Karpati E. Mechanism of action of vinpocetine [in Hungarian; English abstract]. Acta Pharm Hung. 1996;66:213-214.
  1. Miyazaki M. The effect of a cerebral vasodilator, vinpocetine, on cerebral vascular resistance evaluated by the Doppler ultrasonic technique in patients with cerebrovascular diseases. Angiology. 1995;46:53-58.
  1. Bereczki D, Fekete I. A systematic review of vinpocetine therapy in acute ischaemic stroke. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1999;55:349-352.
  1. Hindmarch I, Fuchs HH, Erzigkeit H. Efficacy and tolerance of vinpocetine in ambulant patients suffering from mild to moderate organic psychosyndromes. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1991;6:31-43.
  1. Balestreri R, Fontana L, Astengo F. A double-blind placebo controlled evaluation of the safety and efficacy of vinpocetine in the treatment of patients with chronic vascular senile cerebral dysfunction. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1987;35:425-430.
  1. Dragunow M, Faull RL. Neuroprotective effects of adenosine. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 1988;9:193-194.
  1. Fenzl E, Apecechea M, Schaltenbrand R, et al. Efficacy and tolerance of vinpocetine administered intravenously, in addition of standard therapy, to patients suffering from an apoplectic insult. In: Krieglstein J, ed. Pharmacology of Cerebral Ischemia: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Pharmacology of Cerebral Ischemia. New York, NY: Elsevier Science Publishers; 1986:430-434.
  1. Manconi E, Binaghi F, Pitzus F. A double-blind clinical trial of vinpocetine in the treatment of cerebral insufficiency of vascular and degenrative origin. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 1986;30:702-709. Cited by: Hindmarch I, Fuchs HH, Erzigkeit H. Efficacy and tolerance of vinpocetine in ambulant patients suffering from mild to moderate organic psychosyndromes. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1991;6:31-43.
  1. Peruzza M, DeJacobis M. A double-blind placebo controlled evaluation of the efficacy and safety of vinpocetine in the treatment of patients with chronic vascular or degenerative senile cerebral dysfunction. Adv Ther.1986;3:201-209. Cited by: Hindmarch I, Fuchs HH, Erzigkeit H. Efficacy and tolerance of vinpocetine in ambulant patients suffering from mild to moderate organic psychosyndromes. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1991;6:31-43.
  1. Blaha L, Erzigkeit H, Adamczyk A, et al. Clinical evidence of the effectiveness of vinpocetine in the treatment of organic psychosyndrome. Hum Psychopharmacol. 1989;4:103-111. Cited by: Hindmarch I, Fuchs HH, Erzigkeit H. Efficacy and tolerance of vinpocetine in ambulant patients suffering from mild to moderate organic psychosyndromes. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1991;6:31-43.
  1. Lohmann A, Dingler E, Sommer W, et al. Bioavailability of vinpocetine and interference of the time of application with food intake. Arzneimittelforschung. 1992;42:914-917.
  1. Szatmari SZ, Whitehouse PJ. Vinpocetine for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(1):CD003119

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