Tags: stroke | vinpocetine | hippocampus | flavonoids

Plant Extract Reduces Stroke Damage

Wednesday, 11 November 2015 05:00 PM Current | Bio | Archive

One of the most common risk factors for having a stroke is hypertension, or high blood pressure. While most people think the link is direct — that high blood pressure is directly causing atherosclerosis, which leads to stroke — newer evidence suggests the link is inflammation.

Inflammation results in free radical production and lipid peroxidation within the walls of blood vessels, leading to the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque.

High blood pressure causes free radicals to accumulate in blood vessel walls, leading to plaque buildup.

Once a stroke occurs, special cells in the brain called microglia and astrocytes release high concentrations of glutamate, which acts as an excitotoxin. This glutamate can then do further damage, killing not only brain cells within the zone of the stroke, but also brain cells in the surrounding healthy brain.

This can result in what’s called a progressive or evolving stroke, which increases the paralysis and neurological effects of the stroke.

In such cases, the weakness or paralysis progresses from one arm and hand to involve the entire side of the body.

Studies using animals have shown that blocking excitotoxicity can dramatically reduce the amount of damage caused by a stroke, and therefore reduce the extent of the neurological deficit.

Studies in humans have been less successful, mainly because the excitotoxin-blocking drugs researchers used were too powerful, and shut down all glutamate receptors.

We need glutamate receptors to work normally as they play a vital role in brain function.

The advantage of using natural plant extracts — such as flavonoids, B vitamins, and vinpocetine — is that they reduce the overactivity of the glutamate receptors, but still allow normal functioning.

Vinpocetine dose-dependently reduces excitotoxicity, meaning that it has greater effectiveness at a higher dose.

In animal models of strokes, researchers have shown that the amount of brain tissue damaged by a stroke was reduced from 77 to 37 percent by giving study animals vinpocetine.

One of the best protected areas of the brain during these stroke experiments was the hippocampus, an area that is vital for memory creation.

When a stroke occurs, the brain releases massive amounts of free radicals and lipid peroxidation products that worsen the damage and cause it to spread.

Studies have shown the brain in the area of the stroke activates inflammation signals and releases high levels of inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha.

One recent study found that vinpocetine suppressed this inflammation-activating signal, and dramatically lowered levels of TNF-alpha, thus cooling the inflammation and free radical generation in the brain.

In another study, researchers tested higher brain function in a number of patients who had suffered several strokes. Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial, they discovered that those who took vinpocetine did not worsen on at least some of the brain tests, whereas subjects who did not take the compound did get worse.

Yet another study of 43 patients who had suffered a stroke found that vinpocetine increased brain blood flow and oxygenation, which are critical for recovery.

Vinpocetine is only partially absorbed in the intestines, but once it is in the blood, the compound easily enters the brain and is widely distributed to all parts.

The highest concentrations collect in the thalamus, upper brain stem, striatum, and cortex, all areas that are important for higher-level thinking.

As you can see, vinpocetine protects the brain in many ways by inhibiting processes that cause damaged during a stroke. The dose varies considerably, but you can safely take 20 to 30 mg twice a day.

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Once a stroke occurs, special cells in the brain called microglia and astrocytes release high concentrations of glutamate, which acts as an excitotoxin.
stroke, vinpocetine, hippocampus, flavonoids
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 05:00 PM
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