Periwinkle is a European plant used by herbalists to treat nervous disorders, epilepsy, hysteria, and nightmares. Exciting new research into this delicately beautiful plant shows that vinpocetine, a derivative of vincamine, a natural compound in periwinkle, helps transport oxygen and glucose to the brain. Since the brain needs both to function optimally, periwinkle may be beneficial for assisting to ease brain disease.

With around one hundred studies conducted on vinpocetine’s effects on humans, mostly in Hungary, it is not surprising that it has been used by Hungarian doctors to treat senility and blood vessel disorders in the brain for twenty-five years. In these studies it appears to boost memory and cognition in healthy people and in those with mild to moderate forms of dementia.

A double-blind study in 1985 in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers tested vinpocetine’s effect on the short-term memory of twelve healthy women. The women who took forty milligrams of vinpocetine three times per day for two days scored thirty percent higher on short-term memory tests than the women in the placebo group.

In another double-blind study in 1991, published in International Clinical Psychopharmacology, researchers tested 165 people with mild to moderate dementia. After sixteen weeks, twenty-one percent of those taking thirty to sixty milligrams of vinpocetine daily reported a decline in symptom severity, compared to only seven percent of those taking the placebo.

Vinpocetine is a powerful free radical scavenger. Used regularly, periwinkle, or its active ingredient, vinpocetine, may help to prevent senility and dementia, by preventing damage to the blood vessels in the brain caused by free radicals. Vinpocetine also thins blood, boosts circulation in your brain, and improves the brain’s ability to absorb nutrients, all of which improve brain function. Research shows that vinpocetine works as well as ginkgo biloba— an herbal superstar for aiding brain oxygenation— in improving memory and cognitive abilities.

Periwinkle and vinpocetine are showing tremendous promise as a therapy for many brain diseases, especially stroke recovery. It is used throughout Europe and Japan as a natural therapy for stroke since it helps increase blood flow to areas of the brain with minimal function.

Experts typically suggest dosages of up to ten milligrams daily, taken with food. Up to forty-five milligrams is considered a safe daily dose; but, doses above ten milligrams should be supervised by a health care practitioner. Vinpocetine appears to be safe for short- or long-term use. The effects tend to be fast-acting, not cumulative. In rare cases, someone may experience minor stomach upset and a dry mouth. Check with your doctor before taking either vinpocetine or periwinkle, especially if you are taking blood-thinning medications.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, DNM, DAc, CNC is a best-selling and six-time book author, whose works include: The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, The Brain Wash, and Healing Injuries the Natural Way. She is a doctor of natural medicine, doctor of acupuncture, holistic nutritionist, and energy medicine practitioner. Her work has been featured in/on: Woman's World, First for Women, Dr. Roizen's YOU: The Owner's Manual Radio Show, Gaiam Life, Yahoo! Shine, and The Huffington Post.

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