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9.12) Treating Tinnitus: vinpocetine and vincamine


This article is from the Tinnitus FAQ, by markb@cccd.edu (Mark Bixby) with numerous contributions by others.

9.12) Treating Tinnitus: vinpocetine and vincamine

The following is an anecdotal report concerning vinpocetine, a drug
that is NOT registered in the United States. A search of the
Physician's Desk Reference and several CDROM databases turned up
nothing on the drug or its manufacturer. Be skeptical, but also
remember that some of today's wonder drugs were once new and
unregistered. A prominent American tinnitus researcher (Dr. Jack
Vernon) says, "Vinpocetine shows high promise." Judge for yourselves:

I started taking vinpocetine (a nootropic drug available
mail-order from Europe) a couple months ago, and my tinnitus
(due to listening to a walkman for the entire eighties) is
now almost gone. Occasionally the tinnitus will re-occur,
but I think that's due to what I happen to be eating (or not
eating) that day, as the FAQ states.

In short, vinpocetine cured what I thought was incurable,
and made me a whole-lot happier -- especially since I'm in
the music industry and depend on my ears.

From what I understand, vinpocetine repairs damaged nerve
cells, among other things. There are no side effects -- you
don't notice anything while taking it except that you may
remember things better, and your tinnitus may improve.

"VINPOCETINE: A side effect free synthetic derivative of
vincamine. Vinpocetine is three to four times as potent as
vincamine at improving cerebral circulation and overall is
OVER TWICE as potent as vincamine in humans. Vinpocetine has
wide ranging effects and can be used to improve memory,
treat stroke, menopausal symptoms, macular degeneration,
impaired hearing and tinnitus. The usual oral starting dose
is 1-2 tablets three times daily, to be followed by a
maintenance dose of 1 tablet three times daily for a longer
period of time. Vinpocetine has not been reported to
interact with other drugs and may be used in combination."
-- 'Recommended Dosages' sheet from Interlab.

You can order vinpocetine by sending a letter to Interlab
asking for an order form. Currently, vinpocetine is US$26
for 100 tablets. For Canadians, you can only order a three
month personal supply at a time. For Americans, you may need
a doctor's prescription, and can only order a three month
personal supply at a time. Call your government's "Customs"
agency, or "Food and Drug" administration to be sure.

BCM box 5890

A different contributor has this interjection to make about Interlab:

Interlab is not a reputable source. They are a "black"
organization that has shipped bogus drugs, and they
routinely ignore complaints. They use greeting cards to ship
drugs into the US (which is very reliable) and people either
love their service or hate it, depending on whether or not
they have had a problem that Interlab will not remedy.

How did you find out about vinpocetine? Did you explicitly try it for
tinnitus, or was it for some other condition and the tinnitus cure was
an unexpected side-effect? Did a doctor recommend it to you?

I read about it in a document regarding drugs that the FDA
won't approve because they don't consider the problem the
drug cures important enough (such as tinnitus.) It was on
the net somewhere -- I don't have it.

I got it specifically for tinnitus. A doctor didn't
recommend it -- I "prescribed" it to myself. I have a degree
is psychology, so I'm not completely in the dark as to its

The literature from the manufacturer almost has that "too good to be
true" ring to it. Have you ever seen any other literature on this drug
that didn't come from the manufacturer?

Nothing really substantial, except personal reports from
people who say it works with them.

Do you have any info regarding undesirable side-effects or toxicity

Non-toxic at any level, no side-effects. It's available OTC
(Over The Counter) in Europe and South America. It is not
available in North America because drug laws stipulate that
a drug has to cure an existing condition before it can be
approved. I guess tinnitus isn't a real problem to them. The
only way we can find out if it really works is if several
people try it and report back. I doubt tinnitus is something
that placebo response can overcome, and I'm sure that if
other peoples tinnitus was as annoying as mine, they'll jump
at the chance to try vinpocetine.

Another FAQ contributor reports:

In a quick review of the medline literature I did not find
any papers dealing with vinpocetine and tinnitus, but did
find some with information I will share....I found some
information in the merck index as well as in two articles on
vinpocetine-side effects in the Journal of the American
Geriatics Society ..JAGS 35:425(1987); 37:515(1989).....

ethyl apovincaminate
3,16-eburnamenine-14-carboxylic acid ethyl ester
registered drug names...cavinton,ceractin,eusenium,finacilen

mode of action...cerebral vasodilator used to treat cerebral
dysfunction resulting from reduced blood flow....in addition
has other complex metabolic actions..."In humans, the effect
on cerebral blood flow is not certain, with some
investigators reporting no change, while others report an
increase". It has been reported that vinpocetine can be used
safely to treat patients with "chronic cerebral dysfunction
of vascular origin". The drug is not without some side
effects but these.. "were mild and not considered to be of a
serious nature". These papers also discussed the
concentration of drug administered to groups of patients in
controlled studies...There was mention made in the 1989
paper that vinpocetine was under investigation in the US
assessing its value in patients with multi-infarct

The information that vinpocetine helps some people that have
tinnitus is at the moment anecdotal...as one with tinnitus,
I certainly would approach self treatment very
conservatively....I take niacin for my hypercholesteremia
and haven't noticed any change in the ringing...I would be
willing to take lecithin and ginko but I don't think I will
attempt vinpocetine until I am sure of its efficacy....most
of the people with tinnitus do not have cerebral
dysfunction!... I can also appreciate trying anything to
reduce the discomfort of tinnitus...please be cautious when
it comes to the use of drugs...as we know even niacin in
excess is potentially harmful....

Smart Drugs & Nutrients, Dean & Morgenthaler, 1991, Health Freedom
Publications, ISBN 0-9627418-9-2, has this to say about vinpocetine
and vincamine:

"Vinpocetine is a powerful memory enhancer. It facilitates
cerebral metabolism by improving cerebral microcirculation
(blood flow), stepping up brain cell ATP production (ATP is
the cellular energy molecule), and increasing utilization of
glucose and oxygen.


Vinpocetine is often used for the treatment of cerebral
circulatory disorders such as memory problems, acute stroke,
aphasia (loss of the power of expression), apraxia
(inability to coordinate movements), motor disorders,
dizziness and other cerebro-vestibular (inner-ear) problems,
and headache. Vinpocetine is also used to treat acute or
chronic ophthalmological diseases of various origin, with
visual acuity improving in 70% of the subjects.

Vinpocetine also is used in the treatment of sensorineural
hearing impairment.


Vinpocetine is a derivative of vincamine, which is an
extract of the periwinkle. Although they have many similar
effects vinpocetine has more benefits and fewer adverse
effects than vincamine.

Precautions: Adverse effects are rare, but include
hypotension, dry mouth, weakness, and tachycardia [Ed. note:
this is excessively rapid heartbeat, which can be FATAL. I
do not consider that to be "very safe"]. Vinpocetine has no
drug interactions, no toxicity, and is generally very safe.


Vincamine is an extract of the periwinkle. It is a
vasodilator and increases blood flow to the brain and
improves the brain's use of oxygen.

Vincamine has been used to treat a remarkable variety of
conditions related to insufficient blood flow to the brain,
including vertigo and Meniere's syndrome, difficulty in
sleeping, mood changes, depression, hearing problems, high
blood pressure and lack of blood flow to the eyes. Vincamine
has also been used for improving memory defects and
inability to concentrate. Vincamine has extremely low
toxicity and is very inexpensive.


Precautions: Rarely causes gastrointestinal distress, which
disappears when usage is stopped. Vincamine has not been
proven to be safe for pregnant women or children."

Like vinpocetine, vincamine is not directly available in the United
States. For a list of mail-order suppliers of these and other "smart
drugs", send US$2.00 to the address below and request the Smart Drug
Sources List:

Cognition Enhancement Research Institute
P.O. Box 4029
Menlo Park, CA 94026-4029

Smart Drugs & Nutrients is also available from CERI:

It is now 5 years since SD&N was published and it is getting
hard to find in many bookstores in many areas of the
country. For those who can't find it locally, they can get
it from CERI for $12.95 plus $3 for Priority Mail shipping.
If they mention the Tinnitus FAQ, we will include the Smart
Drug Sources listing for free.


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