Vinpocetine is a synthetic substance derived from an alkaloid compound found in the leaves of the Vinca minor, or lesser periwinkle plant, and Voacanga seeds. It’s often advertised as being able to improve memory or focus due to reported effects of increased blood flow to the brain. Some studies of elderly and stroke patients suffering mild or moderate symptoms of dementia have reported improvements in memory, concentration, and cognitive skills, but vinpocetine does not appear to benefit those with more severe symptoms of mental disorders and dementia. More research is needed to determine the effects of vinpocetine on healthy and younger populations.
Vinpocetine is on the OPSS list of DoD-prohibited substances.
Some adverse events associated with vinpocetine include facial flushing, headache, nausea, and dizziness. Because vinpocetine can affect blood flow, anyone taking blood thinners should use caution.
In September 2016, FDA announced its “tentative conclusion” that “vinpocetine (1) does not meet the definition of a dietary ingredient, and (2) is excluded from the definition of a dietary supplement.” In some countries (such as China, Germany, and Russia), vinpocetine is considered a pharmaceutical drug. For more information, please visit FDA's web page on "Vinpocetine in Dietary Supplements."
On 3 June 2019, FDA released a statement that warns women of childbearing age about possible safety risks of dietary supplements containing vinpocetine. According to FDA, vinpocetine has been associated with adverse reproductive effects and might cause a miscarriage or harm fetal development.
Updated 31 January 2020