It’s another Nootropic that has a range of anti-aging effects to maintain a mind that has four, five, six or more decades of wear and tear on it but has limited value to otherwise healthy people or Biohackers looking to improve performance.
This article is mostly going to focus on decoding what the human studies are saying about Vinpocetine and how this squares up with the anecdotal experiences of Biohackers online. For more of my own personal experiences, thoughts, and comparisons please see the written and video reviews in the sidebar.
It has been the subject of +170 human studies which you can find on Pubmed. Vinpocetine is an alkaloid, technically not really a Nutraceutical since it’s synthetically created, but is derived from vincamine, an extract of the Periwinkle plant.
VINPOCETINE[Title/Abstract] - PubMed - NCBI
PubMed comprises more than 29 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and…
The mechanism of Vinpocetine (especially at higher dosages) has a net negative effect on Dopamine.
The abstract of a 2001 Mexican study articulates this:
The effect of vinpocetine, a nootropic drug with anti-ischemic potential, on the release of [dopamine] and its main metabolite, DOPAC, was investigated in striatum isolated nerve endings under resting and depolarized conditions…
It is concluded that, in addition to the inhibition of presynaptic [voltage-sensitive calcium channels] permeability, which selectively inhibits the transporter-mediated release of all neurotransmitters, vinpocetine increases DOPAC by impairing the vesicular storage of [dopamine].
Characterization of vinpocetine effects on DA and DOPAC release in striatal isolated nerve endings…
Brain Res. 2001 Aug 3;909(1-2):59-67. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
This is why in those who do not have cognition impaired by a deleterious condition, Vinpocetine may actually have an undesirable anti-Nootropic effect:
Lack of motivation
Mid-afternoon productivity lull
A middle-aged Biohacker on Longecity reported:
“after thorough searching on the internet I came across very few stories of bad reactions to this supposed safe nootropic. I was attracted to it looking for something that would help my perimenopause brainfog and offer help for mild depression. After taking 2.5 mg for 6 days, I experienced an increasingly bad headache, dizziness, hot flashes and insomnia. I felt oddly wired and had trouble thinking clearly.”
Vinpocetine -- Ditch It - Brain Health
Page 1 of 4 - Vinpocetine -- Ditch It - posted in Brain Health: I have come to the conclusion that vinpocetine should…
Another Biohacker concurred:
“Two days ago I took both Vinpocetine tablets within an hour of each other. Yesterday I woke up with a headache and didn’t feel good for most of the morning. I was really tired, couldn’t focus, didn’t want to do anything…”
Vinpocetine is making me sleepy and giving me a slight headache - Supplements
Vinpocetine is making me sleepy and giving me a slight headache - posted in Supplements: I started vinpocetine about a…
Amongst those who Vinpocetine does work for, it seems to be a common sentiment that it improves general mood and outlook.
Two Russian studies totaling over a thousand human subjects demonstrated a positive effect on the well being of those over 45 years old…
Patients showed the significant improvement on a scale that assessed self-rated health, activity and mood. The emotional state was normalized in 50% of patients during the treatment with vinpotropile.
Studies related to subjective well-being and Vinpocetine
Examine.com - Independent scientific information on supplements & nutrition. Everything on Examine.com is backed with…
To quote Mind on Longecity:
“The positive effects are mild but noticeable. I seem a little sharper (mentally speaking) and it puts me in a good mood.”
Vinpocetine effects.. - Brain Health
Page 1 of 2 - Vinpocetine effects.. - posted in Brain Health: I've been taking it just under a week now and I've been…
These have the effects of…
- Improving concentration abilities
- Alleviating symptoms of menopause
- Combating chronic fatigue
- Helping age-related memory impairment
Enhancement of auditory and visual perception is also reported.
Some bloggers have even said of it:
“The mental clarity I experience is second to none. If your brain could take the most refreshing, cleansing shower it had ever experienced, then, the water would be vinpocetine without a doubt.”
What are the most powerful nootropics? " Corpina
How do we define power? How we define strength? When it comes to nootropics, "powerful" means effective. The most…
Vinpocetine widens the blood vessels, which increases blood flow to the brain. Delivering more blood and oxygen to the brain, fueling cognition. From a 2011 Indian study:
Vinpocetine, chemically known as ethyl apovincaminate, is a vinca alkaloid that exhibits cerebral blood-flow enhancing and neuroprotective effects. Non-clinical and clinical studies have suggested multiple mechanisms responsible for the beneficial neuroprotective effects of vinpocetine.
Role of vinpocetine in cerebrovascular diseases. - PubMed - NCBI
Pharmacol Rep. 2011;63(3):618-28. Review
The benefit to Biohackers of Vasodilation is that whatever other Nootropic you’re consuming — caffeine, Racetams, Adaptogens, Modafinil — you get more of it flowing to your noggin.
…the administration of Vinpocetine in hypoxic mice also inhibited inflammatory molecules, indicating that Vinpocetine as a unique anti-inflammatory agent may be beneficial for the treatment of neuroinflammatory diseases.
TSPO-specific ligand vinpocetine exerts a neuroprotective effect by suppressing microglial…
Neuron Glia Biol. 2011 May;7(2-4):187-97. doi: 10.1017/S1740925X12000129. Epub 2012 Jul 6. Research Support, Non-U.S…
Also an anti-inflammatory agent, that has a positive effect on neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In an English double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the elderly with dementia, those who were administered 30 Milligrams daily for a month scored consistently better than those on a placebo.
It’s not going to be my go-to recommendation for improving memory. There was just a single human study that showed an effect that would be desired by Biohackers. 40 milligrams daily of Vinpocetine significantly improves memory in healthy adults, from a placebo-controlled study of twenty women:
However, memory as assessed using the Sternberg technique was found to be significantly improved following treatment with vinpocetine 40 mg when compared to placebo and results suggested a localised effect of the drug on the serial comparison stage of the reaction process.
Psychopharmacological effects of vinpocetine in normal healthy volunteers. - PubMed - NCBI
Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1985;28(5):567-71. Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial
However, 40 Milligrams is a very high dosage of this Nootropic.
From a 2011 Swedish study that compared otherwise healthy young Swedes to their elderly counterparts
The present data indicate that… vinpocetine may serve as a molecular imaging biomarker of the activity of the [translocator protein] system and, consequently, of the up-regulation of microglia during ageing and in neuroinflammatory diseases.
Age and disease related changes in the translocator protein (TSPO) system in the human brain…
Neuroimage. 2011 Jun 1;56(3):1111-21. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.02.020. Epub 2011 Feb 12. Comparative Study
The human study of women found that 40 milligrams improved reaction time in memory scanning tests by 70%.
A couple of other notable studies have shown improvements in reaction times when using Vinpocetine in combination with some other Nootropic cofactors, according to a study from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California in combination with Ginkgo Biloba it improves reaction time by 50 milliseconds
Ten tasks (perceptual, attention and short-term memory) were presented in a standardized manner designed to maximize performance, with substantial pre-test practice employed to minimize response variability… A ‘working memory capacity’ paradigm demonstrated a reliable 50 ms response time decrease between the placebo…
Another 2011 study of 30 retired NFL players found that Vinpocetine was a key ingredient in a cognitive enhancement cocktail that improved reaction time:
The trial average was six months. Outcome measures were Microcog Assessment of Cognitive Functioning and brain SPECT imaging. In the retest situation, corrected for practice effect, there were statistically significant increases in scores of attention, memory, reasoning, information processing speed and accuracy on the Microcog… This study demonstrates that cognitive and cerebral blood flow improvements are possible in this group with multiple interventions.
I don’t really think a 50 or 100 millisecond reaction time improvement is going to make that big of a difference unless you are a professional gamer or marksman. If your Biohacking objective is really reaction times, there are probably better options than Nutraceuticals.
Dementias and other severe cognitive dysfunction states pose a daunting challenge to existing medical management strategies. An integrative, early intervention approach seems warranted. Whereas, allopathic treatment options are highly limited, nutritional and botanical therapies are available which have proven degrees of efficacy and generally favorable benefit-to-risk profiles…
Vinpocetine, found in the lesser periwinkle Vinca minor, is an excellent vasodilator and cerebral metabolic enhancer with proven benefits for vascular-based cognitive dysfunction.
[Vinpocetine] offer[s] interesting contributions to a personalized approach for restoring cognitive function…
From a 2002 study:
Vinpocetine is a compound widely used in the prevention and treatment of cerebrovascular diseases… The brain regions showing increased uptake in the human brain correspond to those in which vinpocetine has been shown to induce elevated metabolism and blood flow. These observations support the hypothesis that vinpocetine has direct neuronal actions in the human brain.
It has been used for +20 years in Europe to treat cerebrovascular disorders.
According to a 2008 in vitro study, Vinpocetine protects from cytotoxicity of excessive glutamate overexposure that has a deleterious effect on Mitochondrial function:
To test this hypothesis, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) of cultured neurons was measured by flow cytometry…
Vinpocetine reduced the decrease of mitochondrial inner membrane potential induced by glutamate exposure…
In summary, the present results indicate that the neuroprotective action of vinpocetine in culture can not be explained by its effect on neuronal [peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor]s alone and that additional drug targets are involved.
A couple of people have suggested that it has a positive effect on sleep if taken before bed…
“However if I take a pill of vinpocetine around 8–9pm and go to bed at 11pm then I wake up at refreshed around 6am. If I skip a pill then I oversleep and wake up groggy as always around 7–8am. So taken in the evening It somehow seams to shorten my need for sleep.”
It’s not really stimulating, like something that’s likely to really hurt your sleep so it’s worth trying.
Mechanism of Action
The distinctive feature of Vinpocetine is that it crosses the blood-brain barrier effectively and quickly. From a simian study out of Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden:
The uptake of [11C]vinpocetine in brain was rapid, and 5% of the radioactivity totally injected was present in the brain 2 minutes after drug administration, indicating that the compound entered the brain readily. The radioactivity uptake was heterogeneously distributed among brain regions and was highest in the thalamus, the basal ganglia, and certain neocortical regions.
Using Vinpocetine you’ll often notice an effect shortly after taking it. This is not just your imagination. A study of otherwise healthy humans found an increase in Cerebral blood flow after a mere 20 minutes.
- It’s a PDE inhibitor
- Increases cGMP concentrations
- Inhibition of sodium channels
- Implicated in enhancing potassium current
- It has a weak effect on Glutamine transmission via AMPA and NMDA receptors
Drugs-Forum.com even reports that it increases cerebral blood flow more than any other nootropic.
Sources and Pricing
Vinpocetine is sold as 5 Milligram and 10 Milligram capsules.
Buy Vinpocetine Capsules by Pure Nootropics
Vinpocetine is an alkaloid that is synthetically derived from the compound found in periwinkle plants, vincamine (1)…
Usage and Dosage
It has poor bioavailability in fasted humans, so it’s a good idea to take it with a meal. Its half-life is relatively short; Vinpocetine levels are highest in the blood about 90 minutes after consumption. So you need to take it 2–3 times a day.
10 milligrams low
30 milligrams medium
60 milligrams high
To quote a long time Biohacker, gcurrie on Longecity:
“I’ve been taking it pretty much non-stop for over six years, between 10–20 mg daily.
I notice a decrease in clarity when I temporarily stop.
Absolutely no negative side effects that I have noticed.”
Vinpocetine Biohacker Review
30 milligrams with Coluracetam and Adaptogenic tea. The taste of Vinpocetine is very bland; not a gross drug taste like a lot of Nootropics have, nor an herbal earthy taste, you could perhaps compare the taste to flour, so nothing to complain about. This is one powder I wouldn’t hate consuming daily.
I was in a great mindset all day but it’s hard to say if the Vinpocetine was to thank
30 milligrams just with Coluracetam. Feeling a bit more energetic and in a positive mood, staying grateful.
30 milligrams alone in the morning and 40 milligrams in the afternoon. I’m really starting to like this stuff…
I’ve done meditation and my breath counting exercise at least twice now on Vinpocetine and found it had a positive effect on my distract-ability (absence of distract-ability) and generally positive mood.
I did the 30 milligrams in the morning before 10 AM, skipped caffeine and by 4:30 PM was still feeling a bit of a buzz, the effect had not worn off but I wanted to explore the dosage curve and stimulate my productivity and creativity throughout the rest of the day so I did another little spoonful and even upped the dosage a little.
This is the upper-end dosage of what I’ll take, this is just about over the stimulant watershed for me!
Along with feeling more energized it’s something of a vigilance agent (like Modafinil) that makes me a bit more alert and awake.
Days 4 and 5
Second doses of Vinpocetine are becoming problematic. I’ve noticed that I fall into a really unfocused, unproductive funk after doing an afternoon dose of 30–40 milligrams. If this persists I’ll have to quit Vinpocetine.
I did a little smaller single dose in the late afternoon and felt better. Nicely focused, although not notably energetic.
I did two smaller doses of 20–25 milligrams in the morning and the afternoon. I did not find this dosage sedating as before. Although, the Nootropic effect itself is pretty underwhelming.
Day 8 and 9
I did try it before sleep a couple of times and there was a negligible effect; I don’t think it negatively affected my sleep, nor did I feel better in the mornings as some have reported.
Ginkgo Biloba, ALCAR, Fish Oil, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Huperzine-A, and Vinpocetine is a Reaction Time Stack as demonstrated in two studies.
Again since it lowers dopamine for some there’s a range of unpleasant side effects. Most commonly reported are:
- Brain fog
- Another somewhat frequently reported side effect is mild gastrointestinal upset, this can be assuaged by lowering the dosage.
Anticoagulant and Antiplatelet drugs moderately interact with Vinpocetine. Notably Warfarin (Coumadin).
This is another overrated Nootropic, it’s irresponsible for so many products and multivitamins to include it because its dopamine lowering effect makes it a negative Nootropic for many Biohackers.
Before I spent +15 hours researching it, I always assumed that Vinpocetine was a really an above-board Nootropic because it’s such a commonly used ingredient in popular Nootropic products. Based upon my examination of anecdotal reports of Vinpocetine usage about a third of the Biohackers who use it experience negative side effects. Vendors of products like AlphaBrain or TruBrain could probably retain more of their customers if they excluded Vinpocetine from their stacks.
Theoretically, the value I see in Vinpocetine for otherwise healthy people is that it increases blood flow to the brain, so it should increase the potency of other Nootropics you’re taking; this is why some people report that it really releases the power of caffeine for them. However; there are other, more proven vasodilation agents like…
Nitric oxide promoters like Beetroot juice
Even Capsaicin which is what makes chillis so spicy!
Or hanging upside down
The more I researched Vinpocetine the more I thought, why is this such a popular Nootropic?
I think it’s just because the Periwinkle flower which it is derived from is so beautiful; it really is a stunning flower and people just assume that anything that comes from it must be great! Well, looks can be deceiving!