Gingko biloba

By Sheryl Kay • Published: March 13th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Herbal enthusiasts take note: Gingko biloba isn’t a miracle memory drug.

While earlier studies showed that the herbal extract might help protect brain cells, the most recent findings indicate that gingko doesn’t aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease or any form of dementia.

Findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association hailed from an eight-year, $30-million study… the largest clinical trial ever specifically intended to test a drug or supplement for Alzheimer’s prevention.

Three-thousand patients, on average seventy-nine years of age, were split into two groups. One received gingko pills. The other took placebos daily. None of the participants had been formerly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, although one in six in both groups had some form of mild cognitive weakness. Biannual clinical visits were required to monitor the drug’s effectiveness.

After six years, researchers found that about equal numbers of people developed dementia… in most cases, Alzheimer’s disease… no matter whether they took ginkgo biloba or the placebo pills.

Some doctors questioned the findings, wondering how it could be proved that the participants did indeed take their pills at home. But the researchers noted that most participants were already on other medications, and simply integrated gingko or the placebo into their daily regimen.

The study didn’t address the herb’s potential to alter general cognitive gains or losses. But based on its findings, researchers concluded the extract was unlikely to produce any dramatic results.