Ginkgo Biloba Does Not Prevent Dementia, Study Concludes

November 18, 2008

Ginkgo biloba does not eliminate or prevent the progression of dementia or Alzheimer\'s, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Chicago).

Ginkgo biloba does not eliminate or prevent the progression of dementia or Alzheimer's, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Chicago).

The study enrolled 3,069 people between the ages of 75 and 96; half took a placebo while the other half took 240 milligrams a day of the ginkgo extract EGb 761, the extract used in products sold by Nature's Way (Springville, Utah).

At the end of the study, 277 people who took ginkgo were diagnosed with dementia, compared with 246 in the placebo group. The study also says the ginkgo group had 257 cases of Alzheimer's, compared to 220 in the placebo group.

"No one is more disappointed that we didn't have any traction in slowing down the disease than the group that did the study," said Steven T. DeKosky MD, the neurologist who led the trial.

"We did show it was fairly safe -- that is of some reassurance," said DeKosky, also dean of the University of Virginia Medical School. He said the only harm from gingko could be "spending money on something that may not be useful."

French researchers are currently using a much larger study pool-- 2,854 people over the age of 70 already suffering from memory problems. The results of that clinical trial will be available in 2010.

"That may show an effect that was missed in this study," said Maria C. Carrillo, director of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer Association (Chicago).

But Lon S. Schneider MD, a geriatric psychiatrist at USC (Los Angeles) said there’s no doubt that antioxidants protect neurons, however “we can make it work in animals, but we can't seem to make this work in humans."