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Ginko Results On Memory Contradict Studies, Chinese Medicine

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, November 19, 2008 11:06 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Ginko biloba, JAMA, Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia, Living Well, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Chinese Medicine

JAMA study dispute effectiveness of Ginko biloba 



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ Ginko biloba tree, also known as Maidenhair tree, 2007, Belgium/ author: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT 


Take Ginko biloba for a sharp mind, we are frequently told by those looking for answers in nature. 

This new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association takes a look at Ginko biloba, an extract made from the leaves of a Chinese tree, widely used as a food supplement or nutraceutical.

To date, there has been very little long-term study to date on its effectiveness, that is if you don’t consider traditional Chinese medicine that for almost 5,000 years has used Ginko medicinally for ailments related to poor blood circulation to the brain including dizziness, tinnitus and memory loss.

After a six-year look, researchers found the leaves, in an extract form, had no effect on the rate of progression of dementia.

“We found that giving a standardized dose of Ginkgo biloba over a period of time does not slow down the incidence rate of dementia or Alzheimer's disease," said the study's lead author, Dr. Steven DeKosky to US News.

During the study, he chaired the department of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Medical Center.

3,069 community volunteers ages 75 and older who had normal cognition and mild cognitive impairment were enrolled and assessed every six months from 2000 to 2008. 

Half of the group took a twice daily dose of 120 mg. extract of Ginko biloba while the other half took a placebo. The supplements were made by Nature’s Way of Mission Hills, California.

523 individuals developed dementia. Of that group, 246 had been on the placebo (2.9 per 100) and a little more 277 taking Ginko biloba (or 3.3 per 100). 

Ginko is widely taken by people wishing to retain their brain power as they age. It’s even known as a memory enhancer for students who need to cram for a test.

This study contradicts others that do find improvement with Ginko biloba supplements, among them:



  • In 1997, a published study in JAMA in a placebo-controlled, double-blind randomized trial of an extract of Ginko biloba found that Ginko was “ safe and appears capable of stabilizing and, in a substantial number of cases, improving the cognitive performance and the social functioning of demented patients for six months to 1 year.” It calls the changes induced by Ginko of “sufficient magnitude” to be recognized by caregivers.


  • A study published in the European Journal of Neurology in 2006, concludes that Ginko biloba works just as well as prescription drug Aricept in treating mild or moderate Alzheimer’s.  An online three-year study of 118 people, indicates that those taking Ginko had a 68 percent lower risk of developing mild memory problems than those taking the placebos.  But the Ginko-taking group also had a higher number of strokes or mini-strokes.


  • A new study suggests a daily dose of Ginko may help protect the brain from damage after a stroke. 

Warning- the seeds of Ginko biloba can be poisonous, and the plant has as blood thinning effect, and should be balanced against other pharmaceutical blood thinners.

Dr. Anton Porsteinsson of the University of Rochester tells Newsday about the latest JAMA study that the work is compelling and convincing.  He did the first Ginko study a decade ago with pharmaceutical grade supplements.

Porsteinsson, who directs an Alzheimer's care and research unit, says he will probably now stop recommending Ginko to his patients for memory loss.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has the largest online natural and alternative health web site recommends that the key to treating Alzheimer’s is to never get it in the first place. He says:

  • Avoid and remove mercury
  • Avoid aluminum, such as in antiperspirants, cookware, etc.
  • Exercise for 3-5 hours per week
  • Eat 15-20 pounds of vegetables per week
  • Avoid flu vaccinations  #

1 Comment

Posted by erin
Sunday, November 30, 2008 2:34 AM EST

I follow Dr. Mercola closely and follow all the guidelines he suggests. Wise man. ANd I still recommend Ginko to people including my own parents. I don't trust one study.. Too many variables. Go ginko ;)

Comments for this article are closed.

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