This week, a eight-year double-blind study of the nutritional supplement ginkgo biloba finally reached the pages of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Many health food stores sell ginkgo supplements to people who are hoping to improve their wits and memory, and particularly to elderly people worried about cognitive decline and dementia. But the conclusion by lead researcher Steven DeKosky? Save your money.
In the GEM [Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory] study, participants aged 72-96 years with little or no cognitive impairment were recruited from four communities in the eastern United States and received either a twice-daily dose of 120-milligrams of extract of G biloba or an identical-looking placebo [AFP]. For the more than 3,000 study participants, researchers found no difference in age-related cognitive decline—including the incidence of dementia or Alzheimer’s—between ginkgo takers and placebo takers.
What about younger people taking ginkgo? The findings don’t necessarily apply to acute use of the extract — or to younger patients who are attempting to prevent disease many years in the future. Yet DeKosky noted that “there’s nothing about antioxidants that would make you think they’d help in the short-term” [ABC News].
For more, check out this post by Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy.
80beats: Lack of ZZZZs Linked to Alzheimer’s in Mice
80beats: New Theory of Alzheimer’s: Brain’s Memory Center is “Overworked”
80beats: Herbal Remedy Doesn’t Help Kids With Attention Deficit Disorder
DISCOVER: Alternative Medicine Man
Image: Wikimedia Commons / darkone