Contrary to Popular Belief, Ginkgo Biloba Cannot Avert Alzheimer’s

Ginkgo Biloba is one of the most popular herbs that are being used for drugs and supplements. According to earlier studies, the herb can potentially boost energy and revitalize the cells. Because of its antioxidant features, it is believed that the herb can get rid of the plaques that permeate our brain and introduce damages to our brain and nerve cells.

For a long period of time, people believed that ginkgo biloba can prevent memory loss. In effect, many also postulated that the herb extract can also prevent overall mental decline that plagues the elderly population. As a result, the American population continues to spend more than $100 million on ginkgo biloba supplements every year.

However, based on a recent clinical trial, it was finally concluded the herb cannot prevent brain or memory decline. In effect, it cannot ward off or slow down the onset and the development of Alzheimer’s disease as well.

Ginkgo Biloba, not a prevention medication for dementia

In a study that appeared in the Nov. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Steven DeKosky points out that daily intake of ginkgo biloba extract did not bring a halt on the development of dementia among people who were aged 75 and above. Dr. De Kosky, Dean of the School of Medicine at University of Virginia spearheaded the experiment on more than 3,000 seniors.

The results of the study was that the group of 1,545 seniors who took 120 mg of ginkgo biloba extract twice everyday had the same rates of dementia development as that of the group of 1,524 seniors who took placebos. The said study was the longest investigation on effects of the herbal supplement. It also involved the biggest number of participants.

The study was conducted between 2000 and 2008. When he decided to venture on a study that aims to address the question of ginkgo biloba’s efficiency, De Kosky was still at the University of Pittsburgh.

Despite the doubts posed by constructing and implementing a randomized, controlled, double-blinded trial, De Kosky went on with the trial. Fortunately, the research yielded reliable findings. After six long years of medication, investigation, and follow up, 17 % or 523 subjects from the 3,069 participants had developed dementia.

Among the 523 subjects, 53 % or 277 were patients who took ginkgo biloba extract on a daily basis. The rest had taken placebos. According to De Kosky, these findings only show that ginkgo biloba extract does not slow down or prevent the onset of the disease.

Much more than just a conclusive study

According to Dr. Bill Thies, the study concludes the debate on the efficiency of ginkgo biloba as a cure and prevention medication for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Thies, Vice President of Medical and Scientific Relations of the Alzheimer’s Association notes that the result of the study puts the Association in a credible position in its claim that the herb will not produce the results that most supplement advertisers and marketers promise the consumers.

Aside from providing a conclusion to the long running debate, the study proves to be significant in the medical field as it shows that a large, placebo-controlled trial involving a large and elderly population for a long experimentation period is feasible.


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