Your Brain On Antioxidants

The vinca plant (periwinkle) is a source of vinpocetine which in Europe is a drug used to treat strokes, but in the United States is a dietary supplement. A recent study comparing vinpocetine with two neuroprotective drugs and a water-soluble synthetic derivative of vitamin E (Trolox) found vinpocetine to be the superior antioxidant among the drugs. In a soon-to-be-published study, one of the same drugs, Piracetam, and vinpocetine were both shown to resurrect the function and viability of nerve cells in culture that had been deprived of oxygen for 24 hours.

These conditions of reduced blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain mimic that of a stroke. A study from 2001 evaluated the effectiveness of a Ginkgo biloba/vinpocetine combination on cognitive performance in normal, healthy adults. Subjects from 22 to 59 years of age took a supplement containing 120 mg of a standardized ginkgo extract and 30 mg of vinpocetine (along with B vitamins and DMAE) for 14 days. After the supplementation period, memory speed and accuracy improved significantly. This study suggests that this vinpocetine-containing formulation can boost brain function over the short term.

Nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS, has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies. He is cofounder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS), and founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.