Vinpocetine
Vinpocetine
This information describes the common uses of Vinpocetine, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Vinpocetine, Periwinkle, Vinca minor, Kavinton; Cavinton, Rgh-4405, Tcv-3B, Apovincaminic acid

How It Works

Vinpocetine may be useful against some cerebrovascular disorders, but additional studies are needed. It has not been shown to treat or prevent cancer.

Vinpocetine is made from a compound found in the common periwinkle plant. It was developed in Europe as a drug but sold in the United States as a dietary supplement to improve brain function. Vinpocetine was shown to increase blood flow to the brain and has been studied as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and for disorders of the nervous and circulatory systems. However, more studies are needed before it can be recommended. Vinpocetine should not be confused with the chemotherapy drugs vincristine and vinblastine, which are also made from compounds of the periwinkle plant.

Purported Uses

  • Alzheimer’s disease
    Small studies have shown benefit with vinpocetine, but well-designed clinical trials are needed.
  • Cognitive decline
    Vinpocetine was useful in improving cognitive decline. More studies are needed.
  • Dementia
    A systematic review of studies did not find any effectiveness of vinpocetine for dementia.
  • Memory loss
    A few clinical trials have shown benefit. Large-scale studies are needed.
  • Stroke
    Some studies have shown benefits with vinpocetine in stroke patients, but larger studies are needed.
  • Cancer treatment
    Laboratory studies suggest some anticancer and increased radiation effects on tumor cells, but this has not been studied in humans.

Patient Warnings

  • A recent report from the National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health suggests this supplement may cause harm to pregnant women or the fetus. In supplement labeling, vinpocetine may also be called periwinkle or vinca minor extract.
  • Patients with low blood pressure, a history of heart problems or strokes, or those on cardiovascular medications should consult their physician before using this product.

Do Not Take If

  • You are pregnant: A recent report from the National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health suggests this supplement may cause harm to pregnant women or the fetus. In supplement labeling, vinpocetine may also be called periwinkle or vinca minor extract.
  • You are using blood-thinning drugs: Vinpocetine may increase their effects.
  • You are taking medication to lower high blood pressure: Vinpocetine may enhance their effects.
  • You are taking P-glycoprotein substrate drugs: Lab studies suggest that vinpocetine may alter the way these drugs work in the body. Clinical relevance is not yet known.

Side Effects

  • Flushing, rashes, gastrointestinal problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreased white blood cell count

Case reports

  • Skin reaction, rapid heartbeat, stomach ache: In a man who took a supplement containing Ginkgo biloba and vinpocetine. However, it is uncertain whether both ingredients contributed equally to these reactions.
  • Low white blood cell counts: In a 73-year-old man after using vinpocetine for 50 days. His symptoms resolved after discontinuing vinpocetine.