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Ginkgo of No Value for Alzheimer's Prevention


Finally - the prevailing foolishness about Ginkgo Biloba as a prevention for Alzheimer's and other dementia producing diseases will be laid to rest!

I have long considered the value of Ginkgo as a prevention for Alzheimer's as so much nonsense. Ginkgo has had a wide following for at least 20 years of more. It has long been the darling of the medical knowledge challenged, the quacks and the Charlatans of the herbal cure alls.

I am happy that I did not subject my wife June to taking this as just another pill to help her. It had been suggested and recommended to me on more than one occasion!

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday November 19th 2008 reported in their "Health" column that "Ginkgo Fails to Postpone Dementia."

The basis of their revealing article was a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.(JAMA) The Journal reported on the results of a trial described as the "largest and longest to date of the herbal compound." "The study followed 3,069 adults age 75 and older - about half of them with normal cognitive function and half with mild cognitive impairment - for an average of nearly six years. One group received twice daily dose of Ginkgo while the other received a placebo."

Over that period of time 523 participants developed some form of dementia.

The overall dementia rate was 3.3 cases per 100 person years in the Ginkgo group and 2.9 per 100 person years in the placebo group.

The report said that the different rate between the Gingko participants and the Placebo participants is not statistically significant. (They treated both rates as essentially the same.)

 Never-the-less, the Gingko participants had a higher rate of dementia symptom (14%) development compared to the non Gingko participants. It may not be statistically significant unless you are the one of the additional participants developing the dementia symptoms.

The article also points out that the findings suggest the $250 million that Americans spend on Gingko every year as a waste of money. Amen to that!

     Note:(1): The AMDA publication "Caring for the Ages" for April 2009 finally also reports on the above Wall Street Journal article and JAMA report with this headline: "Ginkgo Biloba Fails to Prevent Dementia." Better late then never I guess!

     Note(2): The Alzheimer's Association announced in their Alzheimer's News for 30 December 2009 the following headline: "Ginkgo has no effect on Aging Brain" This headline was followed by this note: "

"Many people consume the supplement ginkgo biloba, hoping to keep their minds sharp. But the largest and longest scientific study ever undertaken to look at ginkgo's effect on the brain found that the herbal product doesn't improve memory nor prevent cognitive decline in older people."

Where in the world has the Alzheimer's Association been for the past 13 months...this is very old news..


 2011 Update:   Ginkgo had been proposed as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease on the basis of positive preclinical results in mice and a 2006 study that found 160 mg of ginkgo extract as effective as a daily 5 mg dose of the cholinesterase inhibitor Donepezil in human subjects. However, a randomized controlled clinical trial published in JAMA in 2008 found it ineffective at treating dementia in humans. A second randomized controlled trial, published in JAMA in 2009, similarly found no benefit from ginkgo in preventing cognitive decline or dementia.

Ginkgo had previously been suggested as a memory enhancer. In 2002 a paper appeared in JAMA titled "Ginkgo for memory enhancement: a randomized controlled trial." This Williams College study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging examined the effects of ginkgo consumption on healthy volunteers older than 60. The conclusion, now cited in the National Institutes of Health's Ginkgo fact sheet, said: "When taken following the manufacturer's instructions, ginkgo provides no measurable benefit in memory or related cognitive function to adults with healthy cognitive function. June 1994


Note: On October 23rd, 2008, June K. Berg passed away after almost eleven years of an exhausting battle with Alzheimer’s. June's last three years and 8 plus months werein an Alzheimer’s facility at the Alzheimer’s “Villa” of the Benedictine Health Care Center of Innsbruck, New Brighton, MN. See June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It is located on the top blue navigation strip under the label: “In Memoriam”. or Click on:

June K. (Rolstad) Berg – In Memoriam”.