Vinpocetine: A New Medicinal Ingredient added to the Natural Health Product Ingredient Database

September 18, 2012 By


Until recently, the medicinal ingredient “vinpocetine” was considered an unacceptable ingredient for use in natural health products (NHPs) in Canada, according to the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD), and as such was not listed in the Natural Health Products Ingredient Database (NHPID). On September 11, 2012, in the NHPID’s most recent update, the NHPD has classified vinpocetine as an acceptable medicinal ingredient1. More specifically, this ingredient is classified as a derivative of an NHP under Schedule 1, Item 2 (an isolate)2.

Vinpocetine is a semi-synthetic derivative of vincamine, a natural compound extracted from the periwinkle plant, Vinca minor3. Vinpocetine has been shown to have promising effects on cerebral blood flow (vasodilation), enhancement of cognitive functions, as a neuro-protective agent as well as an antioxidant and an anticonvulsant3. At this time, vinpocetine is only contained in one licensed NHP in Canada at a 10mg oral dose taken three times daily, with a claim on improvement of cognitive function in those with age related cognitive decline4.

Several clinical trials have investigated the effects of vinpocetine in stroke patients3. One of the studies resulted in an increase in glucose uptake and metabolism in specific regions of the brain, including the areas affected by stroke. Another study observed increased cerebral blood flow. In a meta-analysis, several studies indicated beneficial effects of vinpocetine for the treatment on degenerative senile cerebral dysfunction5, 6. These effects included improvements in speech and movement, muscular coordination and strength and sensory and perception abilities5. Other documented effects of vinpocetine include treatment of acoustic trauma/hearing loss (tinnitus) and in Meniere’s disease (affecting balance and hearing)5.

Vinpocetine may be taken orally with typical doses ranging from 5 – 10 mg, three times daily5, and one study reported doses up to 60 mg/daywithout adverse effects7.Vinpocetine may also be administered via intravenous infusion4.

As the NHPD gathers additional safety and efficacy evidence on potential medicinal ingredients, the NHPID is likely to expand as new ingredients, previously deemed to be unsatisfactory, are classified as acceptable medicinal ingredients. Addition of new medicinal ingredients to the NHPID is exciting news as industry will be provided with a greater opportunity to develop new products to bring to the marketplace. Additionally, Canadian consumers will be able to have increased access to a greater range of safe and effective NHPs that were previously unavailable.

At dicentra we look forward to witnessing new ingredient updates to the NHPID and their subsequent impact on the licensing of novel NHPs. dicentra will continue to bring you updates on new ingredients as more information becomes available.


  1. NHPD What’s New listing of Modifications to the NHPID. September 11, 2012. Available at: [Accessed September 12, 2012].
  2. Natural Health Products Regulations. Schedule 1, Item 1. Accessed:
  3. Hendler S, Rorvik D. PDR for Nutritional Supplements. 1st Ed. Montvale: Medical Economics Company; 2001.
  4. NPN 80009598. Vinpocetine 10 Mg. Licensed Natural Health Products Database. Available at:
  5. Alternative Medicine Review. Monographs – Volume 1. 2002. Dover: Thorne Research, Inc.
  6. Balestreri R, Fontana L, and Astengo F. A double-blind placebo controlled evaluation of the safety and efficacy of vinpocetine in the treatment of patients with chronic vascular senile cerebral dysfunction. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1987 May;35(5):425-30. Available at:
  7. Thal LJ, Salmon DP, Lasker B, Bower D, and Klauber MR. The safety and lack of efficacy of vinpocetine in Alzheimer’s disease. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1989 Jun;37(6):515-20. Available at:

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