Millions of people take the popular supplement ginkgo biloba in hopes that it delays the progression of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia symptoms. However, the largest study ever of the supplement, published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association, says there is no basis for that hope.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which followed 3,000 people between the ages of 72 and 96, was conducted over an average of six years by six medical centers in four American communities. Half of the participants took ginkgo biloba capsules of 120 mg twice a day, and the other half took placebos.
The research was paid for by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.
From USA Today:
“The first set of results from the study, published last year, found that a twice-daily dose of 120 milligrams of ginkgo biloba extract was not effective in reducing the incidence of Alzheimer's dementia or dementia overall.
“This new paper looked at the same results to see if ginkgo biloba extract had any effect on cognitive decline in older adults, specifically memory, visual-spatial construction, language, attention, psychomotor speed and executive function. It found no effect.
“The study finding is "disappointing news," says Steven DeKosky, dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the study's senior author. The only positive thing the researchers found is that ginkgo appears to be safe, he says.”
"The primary finding was no effect of the ginkgo extract over a relatively long period of time in older people in slowing down what we see as the normal changes of thinking function in aging," DeKosky said.
"If one thought that ginkgo might maintain cognition and prevent or delay decline in some thinking associated with aging, it did not do that," he said.
From CNN Health:
“Ginkgo biloba is among the most popular dietary supplements for brain health. In 2007, Americans spent $107 million on ginkgo.