Vinpocetine Monograph

Vinpocetine Monograph

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM: Alternative Medicine Review 2002 (Jun);   7 (3):   240–243 ~ FULL TEXT

Clinical Indications

Chronic Cerebral Vascular Ischemia

Two PET studies in chronic stroke patients have shown that vinpocetine has a significant effect in increasing glucose uptake and metabolism in the healthy cortical and subcortical regions of the brain, particularly in the area surrounding the region of the stroke. [21] A study in 15 chronic ischemic stroke patients found that a two-week vinpocetine trial significantly increased cerebral blood flow in the non-symptomatic hemisphere. [10] Recent studies using Doppler sonography and near infrared spectroscopy have shown increased perfusion of the middle cerebral artery in patients with chronic cerebrovascular disease given a single infusion of vinpocetine. [10]

Acute Ischemic Stroke

Although small studies have shown that vinpocetine has an immediate vasodilating effect in cerebrovascular circulation, [10] a meta-analysis of the existing studies examining short- and longterm fatality rates with vinpocetine was unable to assess efficacy. [2] In the analysis of eight studies in acute stroke patients (vinpocetine was administered within two weeks of event), only one study met the meta-analysis criteria. In the selected trial, three weeks after onset of i.v. vinpocetine therapy, 8 of 17 vinpocetine patients and 12 of 16 placebo patients were determined “dependant” (unable to live without assistance), and all were still alive. The meta-analysis authors were unable to determine a beneficial effect of vinpocetine, but did state that considering the in vitro studies and animal data, vinpocetine has potential to be effective in acute stroke. Properly designed studies have not yet been conducted.

Degenerative Senile Cerebral Dysfunction

A meta-analysis of six randomized, controlled trials involving 731 patients with degenerative senile cerebral dysfunction showed that vinpocetine was highly effective in the treatment of senile cerebral dysfunction. Using several psychometric testing scales in addition to physical symptoms (speech and movement capacity, muscular coordination and strength, sensory-perceptual ability) the researchers were able to show a highly significant effect of vinpocetine on both cognitive and motor functions. [22]

Alzheimer’s Disease

Although evidence has been limited to one small study, the results suggest that vinpocetine supplementation may not be effective as a therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. A double-blind, placebocontrolled study of vinpocetine in 15 Alzheimer patients, treated with increasing doses of vinpocetine (30, 45, and 60 mg per day) in an open- label pilot trial during a one-year period, resulted in no improvement. [23]

Tinnitus/ Meniere’s Disease/Visual Impairment

Vinpocetine has been used in the treatment of acoustic trauma with subsequent hearing loss and tinnitus.24 Disappearance of tinnitus occurred in 50 percent of those who started vinpocetine within one week of the trauma. Regardless of the time since the incident, 79 percent of patients had improved hearing and 66 percent had a significant decrease in the severity of the tinnitus. Vinpocetine has also been found to be effective in treating Meniere’s disease and in visual impairment secondary to arteriosclerosis. [25, 26]

Drug Interactions

Because vinpocetine decreases platelet aggregation it should be avoided in patients on blood thinning medications.

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