Ginkgo extract doesn't slow cognitive decline

WASHINGTON Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:01pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The widely used herbal supplement Ginkgo biloba does not appear to slow the rate of cognitive decline in healthy older people or those with mild cognitive impairment, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Their study involved 3,069 people age 72 or older from four U.S. communities who were tracked for an average of six years. Half of them took twice-daily doses of 120 milligrams of extract from the leaves of the ginkgo tree and half received a placebo.

Compared with study participants who received a placebo, the use of Ginkgo biloba did not slow cognitive decline in those with normal conditions or those with mild cognitive impairment, the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings suggest that Ginkgo biloba -- one of the top-selling herbal supplements used with the aim of improving memory and preventing age-related cognitive decline -- had no effect on subtle changes associated with early symptoms of dementia or normal aging, the researchers said.

"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," Dr. Steven DeKosky, dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the study's leader, said in a telephone interview.

"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.

DeKosky and colleagues previously found that Ginkgo biloba was not effective in reducing the incidence of Alzheimer's dementia or dementia overall.

A supplements industry group, Council for Responsible Nutrition, said other studies suggest the herbal supplement can be effective in improving cognitive function.

"In an area where there are few other safe, affordable options, I would hate to see this study send the wrong message to consumers," Douglas MacKay, CRN vice president said in an email. "I would continue to recommend Ginkgo biloba to older adults as a safe, effective option for supporting cognitive health."

The ginkgo product used in the research was made by German-based Schwabe Pharmaceuticals.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)

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Comments (12)
GordonK wrote:
Funny you should have two FDA-related articles. Consider this one, the article on ginko biloba. jAs reported, some say ginko biloba does not work. Probably true, in some cases. However, it does work in some cases. Take me, for instance. Now at age 81, having started taking Ginkgold (a brand name clinical ginko extract)60 mg twice daily with meals, several months ago, I can attest to the fact that my memory has improved. As to my cognitive function, you be the judge. As for the FDA, I see the FDA as an agency that was started as a good idea but, over time, has evolved into an agency that has lost its way. Rather than serving as a stronghold for providing consumers and others with a wide range of truthful information, FDA seems to have become an agency run amok. For FDA to represent that its approval processes assure 100% certain outcomes on humans through use of approved products and procedures — while noting that lack of product/procedure approval represents what does not work as claimed, is, in itself, a claim that cannot be substantiated. The original purpose of this comment was to focus on the ginko biloba issue. But, truth be told, the more important issue is the FDA itself — s shameful example of a potentially good agency gone bad.

Dec 29, 2009 10:04pm EST  --  Report as abuse
N3ws721 wrote:
GordonK, I’ve read your comment 3 times now. I remain unable to understand your point. I did enjoy your use of “run amok” however. I’m not even sure your perseverative ramblings have internal logic. Clearly you need more ginko.

Dec 30, 2009 12:55am EST  --  Report as abuse
Whitecat31 wrote:
The FDA was not put in place to serve as a stronghold for providing consumers and others with a wide range of truthful information.
The FDA was put in place to protect consumers from businesses that make false claims. Simple congnitive reasoning and research would show you that.
Your memory might be improving based on a placebo effect or based on your imagination. With out real test methodology you are just giving us hearsay.

Dec 30, 2009 7:42am EST  --  Report as abuse
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