Vinpocetine is a chemical derived from vincamine, a constituent found in the leaves of common periwinkle ( Vinca minor L.), as well as the seeds of various African plants. It is used as a treatment for memory loss and mental impairment.

Developed in Hungary over 20 years ago, vinpocetine is sold in Europe as a drug under the name Cavinton. In the United States it is available as a "dietary supplement," although the substance probably doesn't fit that category by any rational definition. Vinpocetine doesn't exist to any significant extent in nature. Producing it requires significant chemical work performed in the laboratory.

Some evidence supports the idea that vinpocetine can enhance memory and mental function, especially in those with Alzheimer's disease and related conditions. It is also widely marketed for enhancing memory in healthy people, but there is no real evidence that it is helpful for this purpose.

It has been hypothesized that vinpocetine helps people with Alzheimer’s disease by enhancing blood flow in the brain, safeguarding brain cells against damage, and inhibiting a substance known as phosphodiesterase.1-3

Based on these proposed actions, vinpocetine has also been tried as a treatment for reducing brain damage following strokes.