Chinese Translation News

Ginkgo Biloba Won't Help Your Memory.  What Will?

The randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health was conducted at six medical centers and involved 3,069 people age 72 or older from four U.S. communities who were tracked for an average of six years. Half of them took twice-daily doses of 120 milligrams of extract from the leaves of the ginkgo tree and half received a placebo.  The result is an disappointment for people who hoped that Ginkgo extracts could help.  If Ginkgo does not help, what will?  Please write to us if you have any comments.

By Samuel Chong
December 29, 2009

Los Angeles. Ginkgo Biloba does not seem to help people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, according to the study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  It involved 3,069 people age 72 or order and lasted for 7 years. The first set of results from the study, published last year, found that a twice-daily dose of 120 milligrams of ginkgo biloba extract was not effective in reducing the incidence of Alzheimer's dementia or dementia overall.

The new set of results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the same results to see if ginkgo biloba extract had any effect on cognitive decline in older adults, specifically memory, visual-spatial construction, language, attention, psychomotor speed and executive function. It found no effect.

The study is the largest study so far, and with one of the longest duration.  This is a disappointing news for millions of people who have Alzheimer's disease or dementia, possible also for people who have taken Ginkgo Biloba extracts hoping to improve their memory or cognitive abilities.

However, traditional Chinese medicine never talks about if Ginkgo has any effect on a person's memory or cognitive abilities.  "Ginkgo suppresses germs and increases blood circulation." Says Lianjin Chong, a doctor of Chinese medicine. "Ginkgo does not help Alzheimer's disease or dementia.  There are other herbs or products for treating people with Alzheimer's disease in my research of Chinese medicine."

Unfortunately, Dr. Chong does not wish to reveal what other herbs or products in traditional Chinese medicine that might be help people with Alzheimer's disease because his research is in "preliminary stage."

With the new result of the study, the biggest loser would probably be the manufacturers of Ginkgo Biloba in the dietary supplement industry who hoped people would want to take Ginkgo Biloba to increase their memory.

"Perhaps they should promote other functions of Ginkgo extracts."  Says Dr. Chong. "If you have any suggestions on the kind of herbs or chemical compounds that would improve the conditions of people with Alzheimer's disease, let us know."

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#1 This study is anything BUT conclusive! Over 33% of the study participants DROPPED OUT OF THE STUDY DURING THE COURSE OF THE STUDY, but THEIR DATA WAS HYPOTHESIZED AND INCLUDED IN THE STUDY!!! There are over 11 GOOD studies (1,2,3,4) that show that Ginkgo Biloba is useful for supporting and improving short term memory and cognitive function!!! Read all of the studies people, and don't believe what the popular media tells you!!! READ THE STUDIES FOR YOURSELVES!!!

1. IQWiG Reports - Commission No. A05-19B. Ginkgo in Alzheimer's disease. Executive Summary. Cologne: IQWiG, 2008.

2. Kaschel R. Ginkgo biloba: specificity of neuropsychological improvement - a selective review in search of differential effects. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental 2009;24:345-370.

3. Kasper S, Schubert H. Ginkgo- [Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761(R) in the treatment of dementia: evidence of efficacy and tolerability.] Fortschritte Neurologie Psychiatrie 2009;77:494-506.

4. Crews W, Harrison DW, Griggin ML, Falwell KD, Crist T, Longest L, Hehemann L, Rey ST. The neuropsychological efficacy of ginkgo preparations in healthy and cognitively intact adults; A comprehensive review. HerbalGram 2005;67:42-62.

- John Bollwerk