Ginkgo biloba has been a popular herb for its reputed ability to prevent cognitive decline. A year ago, a randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association did not show any benefit of ginkgo in warding off dementia.

Now, a new report on this study confirms that Ginkgo biloba does not prevent or delay cognitive decline in seniors. More than 3,000 volunteers participated in the study for an average of 6 years. The periodic tests of mental function throughout this well-designed study [Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory, GEM] did not show that ginkgo helped people stay sharp. The researchers were disappointed, but pointed out one positive finding: Ginkgo extracts appear to be safe even if they’re not effective.

[Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec 23/30, 2009]

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  1. dp

    I tried Ginko for memory many years ago. All I can say is it made me sick. General malaise and headache. There are many perscription drugs and a few herbal ones I absolutely can’t take. Just because one can grow it, doesn’t mean it will be tolerated or helpful to them. I recently stopped the glucosimine even tho I think it helps with joint freedom. But I always got so sleepy during the day. I knew the culprite when the pills ran out and the napping stopped too. It may be the skullcap that is added to the glucosimine, and I may try plain pill. Or maybne I’ll just stick with aspirin and turmeric. They work for me with no side effects.

  2. Greg Pharmacy Student

    More evidence that natural is not always better. DON’T FORGET that there is evidence to support that smoking, drinking, and repetitive blows to the head DO cause cognitive decline.

  3. Eleanor K.

    I think the ginko studies use too high a dose. I have used ginko for years but only take it twice a week. There is a measurable effect: When looking up phone numbers in the phone book, when the ginko is working, I can remember the number for some time after. When it is not, I can’t even remember by the time I’ve closed the book. Similarly, my vocabulary and ability to be articulate is greatly enhanced by ginko. Conversely, with no ginko, I struggle for the precise word and phrase. Neither of these are necessary, but desirable.

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