Ginkgo Biloba Found NOT Effective In Combating Cognitive Decline
Ginkgo Biloba Has No Effect On Cognitive Decline
Ginkgo Biloba, an extract from the Ginkgo tree, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 500 years, and has been heavily touted in the West as an effective treatment for improving memory and preventing cognitive decline and dementia since the 1970s. Nutritional supplement manufacturers and scientists have reported conflicting effectiveness of the extract's effectiveness for decades.
In December of 2009, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the result of the longest and largest scientific trial of Ginkgo Biloba ever undertaken. This clinical trial, known as The Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study, tested 3,069 participants between the ages of 72 and 96, with little or no cognitive impairment, over an average 6 year time span. The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial provided half the patients with twice-daily 120 mg doses of Ginkgo Biloba per day, and a placebo to the other half.
The GEM Study
The GEM study was funded by the National Institute of Health's National
Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the United States
government's primary agency for the study of alternative and
By the end of the study, no difference in cognitive function could be found in any of the cognitive areas tested, including memory, attention and language cognition.
The patients in the trial were tracked by six academic medical centers in the Eastern United States between 2000 and 2008 using standard medical tests, including the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination and the cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale.
The JAMA Abstract of the GEM Results
- JAMA Abstract of the GEM Results
JAMA is a highly cited weekly medical journal that publishes peer-reviewed original medical research findings and editorial opinion
The Modified Mini-Mental State
Examination is a 30-point test used to diagnose and measure the
impact of cognitive decline and dementia. Since the test can indicate
level of cognitive function at the time it is given, it is useful in
tracking decline or improvement of cognitive function over time.
The Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale is a testing tool used to screen cognitive disorders in the diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease. The cognitive subset of the scale is used both for diagnosis of cognitive decline and for measuring decline or improvement of cognitive function in the treatment of Alzheimer Disease.
NIH-funded GEM study did find that Ginkgo Biloba is safe to
use. However, since its primary function is as a blood thinner, heart
patients and those who already use blood thinners should be cautious
about using the supplement. Many patients don't consider herbal
supplements as "medicine" or "drugs", and so don't always alert their
physicians about their use of them, which can lead to complications with
prescription medications and even surgery.
In 2008, over $99 million worth of Ginkgo Biloba extracts were sold in the United States, making it one of the top ten herbal supplements on the market.
Ginkgo Biloba Ineffective In Treating Cognitive Decline
USA Today Article
- Study: Ginkgo biloba has no effect on Alzheimer's, dementia
The popular supplement ginkgo biloba neither improves memory nor prevents cognitive decline in older people, according to a large study.
More information about the GEM study
- Questions and Answers: Ginkgo biloba for the Evaluation of Memory (GEM) Study [NCCAM Research Result
This fact sheet provides answers to frequently asked questions about the study to test the effects of the largest clinical trial ever to evaluate the effects of the dietary supplement Ginkgo biloba on the occurrence of dementia.