Steven Novella at Science-based Medicine (and others elsewhere) report the publication of a paper concluding that Ginkgo biloba does not stem the loss of brain function in the elderly, nor is it an effective treatment for Alzheimers disease or other dementia.
The new study is the largest to date, with over 3000 participants.
Steven Novella explains the implications of the study well, so you’re best to head over there and read it for yourself.
(Most of the discussion in the comments section so far relates to the use of echninacea as a cold treatment, a claim that is looking pretty much the same as the claims for Ginkgo biloba. If echninacea doesn’t interest you, you might want to skip the comments. The main article is excellent, however.)
The key claim of Ginkgo biloba is (was) as a mild blood thinning agent, arguing that this would improve blood circulation in the brain. As Steven Novella points out, this would only work if the effect of Ginkgo biloba was dominant over the brain’s own control of it’s blood flow, which, according to him, was always unlikely.
This new large case-control study shows that:
Compared with placebo, the use of G biloba, 120 mg twice daily, did not result in less cognitive decline in older adults with normal cognition or with mild cognitive impairment.
This research follows on from a previous examination of Alzheimer dementia or general dementia (reporting no improvement with taking Ginkgo biloba), extending it to milder cognitive functions and if a variety of factors such as age, sex and so had any impact on the outcome. Explained more formally in the introduction to the paper it aims to:
(1) determine if G biloba affected the rate of global cognitive change;
(2) determine if G biloba had differential effects in specific cognitive domains; ie, memory, language, visuospatial construction, attention, and executive functions; and
(3) examine whether baseline cognitive status, presence of APOE*E4 allele, age, sex, race, or education modified any effects of G biloba treatment on cognitive change.
The paper is open-access, so you can read it for yourself.
Selected health/medicine related posts from Code for life: