Vinpocetine/Arginine Power Can Help Increase ...

Vigilance
Your State of Total Mental Readiness

Eternal vigilance is the price of consciousness.

he power of vigilance was also the call to arms when 19th Century anti-slavery firebrand Wendall Phillips referred to it as the price of liberty. But what is the price of vigilance, the state of total central nervous system readiness? Is it the call to "mental" arms? Is vigilance the revelry to wake up your brain? Yes, and more. In short, vigilance requires the cultivation of a mental mind set of high order awareness and preparedness. It also requires the acute ability to snap into focus and become, at a moment's notice, more conscious. In this state of readiness, one is more able to be mentally available for whatever challenges arise.

Positioned between wakefulness and performance, vigilance springs forth when we are fully aware, ready to act, and we tell our mind, "grasp this." Too bad most of us aren't like this more often. Fortunately, vigilance may be promoted and sustained biochemically. It is also the quintessential benefit of many nootropic (mind enhancing) compounds. Of these nootropics, vinpocetine, the herbal extract drived from the periwinkle (vinca major) plant, is one of the best agents for improving the brain function known as vigilance.


Vinpocetine, the herbal extract derived
from the periwinkle (vinca major) plant,
is one of the best nootropic agents for
improving the brain function
known as vigilance.

How often do we mull over our regrets about what we would have done if we had been more vigilant, more attentive and more awake when opportunity knocked? How often during the day-to-day living of our lives, do we find ourselves searching our depths for added insight, extra knowledge, greater wisdom, the right come-back in a challenging situation and endeavoring for faster "react-ability?" These assets are all too frequently not at our command when we need them. How much of life slips needlessly through our fingers on such occasions?

HELPS PREVENT ACCIDENTS
How often do we come too close to the periphery of an accident, perhaps falling, perhaps bumping into something, perhaps something worse, because our level of consciousness, our vigilance is not high enough? Accidents are the fourth leading cause of death, the top three being heart diseases, cancers and strokes.1 Were you aware that lack of vigilance is one of the greatest reasons cited for automobile injury and death?2,3 If only there were some way to restore and enhance our readiness to learn, to engage, to more actively take part in our lives ... to return to what it was when we were young and perhaps beyond. These have been core questions of psychophytonutrient researchers for quite some time, and the answers are still coming. For now, however, there is a way to increase this type of systemic awareness. Right now, you can begin to help restore your state of vigilance with the extraordinary - and overlooked - herbal agent vinpocetine.


In short, vigilance requires the cultivation
of a mental mind set of high
order awareness and preparedness.

TOTAL NEURAL ACTIVITY
In the scientific literature, particularly that of Europe and Asia, some very important work has been done on the nature of vigilance and what is required to achieve it, both physiologically and mentally. Scientists Saletu and Grunberger,4 pioneers in the area of brain mapping with the electroencephalogram (EEG), call vigilance "the availability and grade of organization of man's adaptive behavior, which in turn is dependent on the dynamic state of the total neural activity." In other words, vigilance is the total measure of one's central nervous system readiness to respond at a moment's notice, accurately and competently. Saletu and Grunberger observe that human brain aging is reflected by the variation of certain brain waves which are measurable by EEG. As the brain ages there are 1) increases in delta and theta activity, 2) decreases in alpha and alpha-adjacent beta activity, and 3) a slowing of the dominant frequency.

AGE-RELATED LOSS OF VIGILANCE
Age-related changes in brainwaves are strongly associated with sleep disorders, performance deficits, reduced health status, learning impairment, diminished intellectual functioning, diminished longevity, and loss of vigilance.5 The slowdown of physical activity and memory decline in elderly subjects correlates with less alpha and alpha-adjacent beta activity, compared to matched-control subjects with good memory.1 Other age-related EEG correlations held true for subjects who were slower to learn knowledge and slower to recall it.


Vigilance is defined as the availability and
grade of organization of man's adaptive
behavior, which in turn is dependent
on the dynamic state of the total
neural activity.

In another study by Saletu and Grunberger, dementia patients were found to have alterations in brain waves that compare to age-related changes.6 Dementia and other age-related degenerations are often characterized by fewer deep, more broken, and less refreshing patterns of sleep. Polygraphic sleep recordings have found these sleep patterns accompanied by reductions in slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. (Less slow wave and REM sleep are associated with poorer learning performance.) In one study, EEG recordings were found to support the polygraphic data: as alpha rhythms slowed down, so did slow wave sleep.7 Learning responsiveness declined. In the aged, sleep problems are indicative of vigilance-regulatory systems deficits.

REVERSING BRAIN WAVE DECLINE
Vincamine-alkaloids of which vinpocetine is a powerful member, were found to reverse the decline in alpha waves, reduce the elevation of delta and theta wave activity, and help prevent slowing of dominant frequency, thereby improving human brain function and making subjects more vigilant.2 The portion of the brain most associated with vigilance is a section of the brain's neuroaxis known as the locus coeruleus (often referred to as "the blue spot" since its cells contain melanin ) which has been the subject of extensive investigation.


Vigilance is the active state between
wakefulness and performance, when you are
fully aware and ready to act.

Located at the base of the brain beneath the cerebellum, the fibers of the locus coeruleus innervate large parts of the cerebrospinal axis; in particular, areas involved in cognitive functions, such as the cortex and the hippocampus - which are the areas intimately involved in what we think and how we feel. The locus coeruleus is the primary area of noradrenaline neurotransmitter concentration, and is thought to be involved in what you are doing right now: memory processing, feeling (hopeful?), getting ready to learn something new (being vigilant), controlling blood pressure and more. Vinpocetine is believed to enhance locus coeruleus function.

WAKE UP BRAIN!
Chemical differences between the awake brain versus the sleeping brain have intrigued researchers for many years. A recent study found that the locus coeruleus, which operates as a communication conduit with large areas of the brain such as the cortex and hippocampus, has a much lower pattern of activity in sleeping rats as opposed to the activity patterns in waking rats.8 The researchers' findings suggest that the locus coeruleus acts as a neuromodulator to control the activity of other brain areas during the sleep-wake cycle.


Vigilance is the total measure of one's
central nervous system readiness to
respond at a moment's notice,
accurately and ably.

Laboratory results have found that the firing rate of locus coeruleus neurons is affected by a great number of psychoactive agents, including antidepressants, minor tranquillizers, antipsychotics, psychostimulants and certain psychogeriatric drugs. Specifically, the activity of noradrenergic neurons in locus coeruleus is thought to correlate with the level of cortical vigilance. Vinpocetine is now thought to increase the firing rate of the of locus coeruleus neurons and as a result, improve vigilance.

VIGILANCE AND NO
Another important compound for increasing vigilance as well as long-term memory (and much more) is the amino acid arginine, the precursor of the amazing neurotransmitter nitric oxide (NO). NO also helps control blood pressure, boosts immune function, helps kills cancer cells and microorganisms, assists in muscular activity control (balance and coordination), and operates as the primary physiological mediator of penile erection [see Viagra Duality: Better to NO? - July 1998 and Viagra: Is the Stampede Misdirected? - June 1998].

Working with rats, scientists inhibited the enzymatic precursor, nitric oxide synthase, thus reducing the production of NO.9 When they examined EEG readouts from these subjects, theta waves were reduced - reflecting slow rhythmic activity and decreased locomotion. From these results the researchers concluded that nitric oxide exerts an excitatory effect in the central neuronal structures involved in the regulation of vigilance.


Vinpocetine and arginine serve many of
the same goals when it comes
to enhanced brain function.

Additional studies have shown that inhibition of brain NO production suppresses sleep in rats and rabbits. In one study, rapid eye-movement sleep (REMS) was decreased along with suppression of theta, alpha, and beta activities.10 These effects were found during waking periods as well as in REMS. Indeed we know from human studies that increasing REMS is associated with greater long-term memory11 and that learning performance in general is improved when REMS is enhanced.12 In excessive sleeping disorders, multiple activities of everyday living suffer, not the least of which is loss of vigilance. The results strongly suggest: If NO production is reduced vigilance will suffer. Alternatively, if you improve NO production, vigilance will improve.

VINPOCETINE AND ARGININE TOGETHER
Vinpocetine and arginine serve a significant number of the same goals when it comes to enhanced brain function. Both have been shown to influence long-term memory function and as well as serving as neuroprotectors, [see Creating Mental Clarity - June 1998], both also offer enhanced heart function, and improved vigilance, among other functions. A vinpocetine/arginine formulation takes advantage of this confluence. So, if you are interested in nootropic enhancement and improving brain function, you have an opportunity to try such a supplement and see if it makes a difference in your life!

References

  1. Based on National Center for Health Statistics 1990, latest official estimates.
  2. Philip P, Taillard J, Bioulac B. Sleep and road safety and the importance of behavior in the regulation of vigilance. Confront Psych. 1997;38:275-281.
  3. Findley L, Unverzagt M, Guchu R, Fabrizio M, Buckner J, Suratt P. Vigilance and automobile accidents in patients with sleep apnea or narcolepsy. Chest 1995;108:619-624.
  4. Saletu B, Grunberger J. Memory dysfunction and vigilance: neurophysiological and psychopharmacological aspects. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1985;444:406-427.
  5. Obrist WD. Problems of aging. In Handbook of Electoencephalography and Clinical Neuerophysiology. A. Remond, Ed. 6 (Part A). Amsterdam: Elsevier Publishing,1976:275-293.
  6. Saletu B, Anderer P, Paulus E, Grunberger J, Wicke L, Neuhold A, Fischhof PK, Litschauer G. EEG brain mapping in diagnostic and therapeutic assessment of dementia. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 1991;5:S57-S75.
  7. Spiegel R. Aspects of sleep, daytime vigilance, mental performance and psychotropic drug treatment in the elderly. Gerontol. 1982;28(Suppl 1):68-82.
  8. Cirelli C, Pompeiano M, Tononi G. Neuronal gene expression in the waking state: a role for the locus coeruleus. Science. 1996;274:121 -1215.
  9. Dzoljic E, van Leeuwen R, de Vries R, Dzoljic MR. Vigilance and EEG power in rats: effects of potent inhibitors of the neuronal nitric oxide synthase. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 1997;356:56-61.
  10. Kapas L, Krueger JM. Nitric oxide donors SIN-1 and SNAP promote nonrapid-eye-movement sleep in rats. Brain Res Bul. 1996;41:293-298.
  11. Smith C, Lapp L. Increases in number of REMS and REM density in humans following an intensive learning period. Sleep 1991;14:325-330.
  12. Mandai O, Guerrien A, Sockeel P, Dujardin K, Leconte P. REM sleep modifications following a Morse code learning session in humans. Physiol Behav. 1989;46:639-642.
  13. Pantazis NJ, West JR, Dai D. The nitric oxide-cyclic GMP pathway plays an essential role in both promoting cell survival of cerebellar granule cells in culture and protecting the cells against ethanol neurotoxicity. J Neurochem. 1998;70:1826-1838.
  14. Kiss B, Karpati E. Mechanism of action of vinpocetine. Acta Pharm Hung. 1996;66:213-224.
  15. Pantazis NJ, West JR, Dai D. The nitric oxide-cyclic GMP pathway plays an essential role in both promoting cell survival of cerebellar granule cells in culture and protecting the cells against ethanol neurotoxicity. J Neurochem. 1998;70:1826-1838.
  16. Kiss B, Karpati E. Mechanism of action of vinpocetine. Acta Pharm Hung. 1996;66:213-224.

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