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Ginkgo Biloba Not Effective In Slowing Cognitive Decline

January 3, 2010

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association claims the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba does not slow cognitive decline.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh analyzed the data from an eight-year randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial called the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study. In the study, nearly half of 3,069 participants were given daily doses of ginkgo biloba, while the rest received a daily placebo.

In United States and Europe, ginkgo biloba is one of the most widely used herbal treatments to specifically prevent age-related cognitive decline. According to the JAMA study, “we found no evidence for an effect of G biloba on global cognitive change and no evidence of effect on specific cognitive domains of memory, visual-spatial construction, language, attention and psychomotor speed, and executive functions.”

In the GEM study, subjects aged 72 to 96 with little or no cognitive impairment were enrolled in the research 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. Changes in cognition were assessed by various tests given during the study, which was conducted at six academic medical centers in the United States between 2000 and 2008.

Although the supplement showed no signs of cognitive decline, it wasn’t a total failure. The report said that ginkgo biloba “may have prevented or delayed age-related changes in individuals with normal cognition … or slowed the rate of decline in those characterized as having mild cognitive impairment.”

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