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Vinpocetine as an Effective Tinnitus Treatment?

Updated on January 29, 2013
Lesser Periwinkle
Lesser Periwinkle

Introduction

Vinpocetine is a derivative of vincamine, an extract from the leaves of the lesser periwinkle plant, and is most commonly sold as a supplement for improving memory. Studies have shown it to enhance circulation in the brain [1], improve the brain's use of oxygen [2], and provide neuroprotective effects [3].

Tinnius is a condition characterized by one hearing a persistent ringing, buzzing, roaring, or other similar type sound which is not generated by their environment. Its effects on individuals vary and it can have a number of possible causes. No single treatment currently exists that will cure or treat all types of tinnitus.

The most common supplement currently used to treat tinnitus is Ginkgo Biloba, an extract made from the leaves of the Ginkgo Biloba tree. Ginkgo Biloba is marketed as helping to decrease tinnitus by improving blood flow, by providing neuroprotection, and by providing antioxidant effects. The scientific literature is conflicting when it comes to effectiveness of Ginkgo Biloba for tinnitus, with some studies showing that it moderately reduces tinnitus in some individuals, while others indicate that it is no more effective than a placebo [4].

Vinpocetine is similar to Ginkgo Biloba in that it is known for improving memory, has neuroprotective effects, and has antioxidant effects [5]. Though unlike Ginkgo Biloba, Vinpocetine typically begins to show effects after 7 to 10 days while Ginkgo Biloba typically takes 4 to 6 weeks.

The Research Supporting Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine has not been as thoroughly studied as Ginkgo Biloba, though a hand full of small studies have been done which seem to indicate that Vinpocetine is an effective treatment for tinnitus. In a 5 year study conducted between 2001 and 2006, 150 tinnitus patients were given one of several oral drugs (including Vinpocetine and Ginkgo Biloba) and treated with a combination of physiotherapy and/or soft laser. The study found that the most effective treatment was in the group taking Vinpocetine (Cavinton) and getting physiotherapy [6].

In 1997, a Polish study was done that used Vinpocetine to treat acoustic trauma that resulted in hearing loss and tinnitus. It found that 50% of those who took vinpocetine within one week of the incident had their tinnitus disappear. It also noted that 79.2% of patients experienced improved hearing and 66.6% had a significant decrease in their tinnitus [7]. In a 1986 review, Vinpocetine was also found to improve hearing and decrease tinnitus in patients who had suffered acute acoustic trauma [8].

Anecdotal evidence across the internet also seems to support the effectiveness of Vinpocetine as a tinnitus treatment, with a variety of responses reported. With all of this promising evidence, Vinpocetine appears to have promise as a tinnitus treatment, though more research is needed to explore its full effects and best methods of action.

Dosage for Vinpocetine varies, with some suggesting dosages as low as 5mg a day, while other suggest dosages as high as 60mg a day. A typical dosage appears to be 30mg a day. Pregnant women, people with liver problems and people with seizure disorders shouldn't take vinpocetine.

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