Your brain works better after two days of vinpocetine
Vinpocetine, the legal smart drug, also works in normal, healthy people. Twenty-five years ago psychologists at the University of Leeds published the results of a study which suggest that this is the case. It's the only study about the effect of vinpocetine on healthy people that we've managed to find.
Vinpocetine [structural formula shown below right] also goes by the name of ethyl-apovincaminate. It's a semi-synthetic analogue of vincamine, an alkaloid found in the plant Vinca minor [structural formula shown below left]. Vinpocetine has been available for years in preparations like Intelectol, which are supposed to improve brain functioning.
Much research has been done on vinpocetine, but most of the studies involve basic research. Nearly all the human studies we've managed to unearth involve people with calcified blood vessels in the brain or patients who are recovering from a stroke. In these people vinpocetine boosts the supply of blood to the brains and improves memory functions. [Arzneimittelforschung. 1976;26(10a):1947-50.]
The British psychologists did an experiment in the mid eighties, in which they gave healthy women aged between 25 and 40 a daily dose of 10, 20 or 40 mg vinpocetine or a placebo for two days. The subjects took one dose at 8 o'clock in the morning and the other at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. At the end of the two days the researchers tested the women's brain functioning by getting them to recognise combinations on a computer screen.
The combinations were not difficult, and the women made hardly any errors. And the vinpocetine had no effect on the number of errors made. What it did do was to increase the speed with which the women were able to recognise a combination. After taking the 40 mg dose the women performed significantly better than after taking a placebo.
So vinpocetine helps the brains of healthy people to work faster. Information processing goes faster as a result of the alkaloid.
So how would team players, drivers or students taking exams react to vinpocetine? We don't know. Since the British study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 1985 no other studies have been done on the effects of vinpocetine on healthy people.
Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1985;28(5):567-71.
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