Wouldn’t you love to know how to keep your mind sharp and your memory intact even as you grow older? Most of us worry about losing our edge. One reader is convinced he has the answer. Indeed he might, although the scientific evidence is not quite as solid as we’d like.
Could Ginkgo Biloba Keep Your Mind Sharp?
Q. I am almost 93 years of age and have no memory problems whatsoever. I have been taking Ginkgo biloba daily for 60 years. While I have no idea whether it has helped me or not, I am not giving it up at this stage of the game!
A. We are impressed. Many people much younger than you have trouble remembering things.
What Does Ginkgo Do?
Chinese healers have used ginkgo for thousands of years to ease asthma symptoms, improve circulation to fingers and toes and aid memory. In Europe, doctors prescribe ginkgo to prevent cognitive decline.
Research on ginkgo to keep the mind sharp has produced contradictory results, however. A study in JAMA (Oct. 22/29, 1997) suggested that this herb might slow the ravages of Alzheimer disease. But a six-week study (JAMA, Aug. 21, 2002) demonstrated no benefits for memory or cognitive functioning in older adults.
More recently, a German study found “improved cognitive flexibility” in a study of older people with memory problems (Human Psychopharmacology, May, 2016). The investigators used a special ginkgo extract (EGb761) in a double blind, placebo-controlled trial of 61 volunteers.
It is quite possible you are one of those fortunate people who are blessed with good memory and cognitive function throughout life. Although no one can say whether your use of ginkgo has kept your mind sharp, we cannot say it didn’t.