November 19, 2008

Ginkgo won’t delay dementia, survey shows

The herbal supplement ginkgo biloba, popular among U.S. adults hoping to improve their memory, doesn't appear to delay or prevent dementia, a study indicates.

The longest and largest trial to date on the compound indicates Americans may have wasted $250 million spent on ginkgo annually, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

This is going to be a wake-up call to people who are blindly taking over-the-counter brain boosters, thinking if it's being sold in a reputable store it's effective, P. Murali Doraiswamy, a memory expert at Duke University not involved in the study, told the Journal.

The study tracked 3,069 adults age 75 and older -- nearly evenly divided between those with normal cognitive function and those with a mild impairment -- for an average of nearly six years. One group received a twice-daily dose of ginkgo and the other received a placebo.

During the study's course, 523 participants developed dementia. Researchers said results indicate those who took ginkgo were just as likely to develop dementia as those taking the placebo.

They reported the overall dementia rate between the two groups was statistically insignificant.

Results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.