The Limitations of the Alzheimer’s Ginkgo biloba Study

Q I would like your input re: the recent massive coverage of a study showing no benefit from using ginkgo in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. It’s been all over the news.

RACHEL Fort Jones, CA

A We are not huge fans of ginkgo, preferring to think of ourselves as moderately disposed to its usefulness. However, the recent study, billed as the largest randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study of ginkgo to date has found no effect for ginkgo in a group with an average age of 79 years (a much-older group than is typically subject to memory studies).1

As per Doug MacKay of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, “[C]ognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are multi-factorial chronic conditions and the exact causes and mechanisms are unknown, and most importantly that there is no magic bullet or cure that has yet been found.2

“The solution to these conditions will likely not be a single isolated approach, but rather will be a multi-component, integrative approach to supporting cognitive health, which may include lifestyle habits such as eating a healthy diet and taking dietary supplements such as Ginkgo biloba, along with both mental and physical exercise,” he said.

While the study does add to the overall data on ginkgo, it should “not be viewed as the final word.” No drug or nutritional supplement has ever produced completely positive results in studies intended to measure efficacy, whether of memory or anything else. Scientists are fallible. Knowledge will always be incomplete. That is not to say that there will never be a complete “go” for ginkgo or any other supplement.

In the National Library of Medicine there have been 72 clinical trials on ginkgo, many of which support its use. There have been many more done in Europe. So, ginkgo already has a moderate “go.”

We at Life Enhancement Products believe that there are other supplements that can support memory function more successfully—see our entire range—and our knowledge is ever widening.

  1. Snitz BE, O’Meara ES, Carlson MC, Arnold AM, Ives DG, Rapp SR, Saxton J, Lopez OL, Dunn LO, Sink KM, DeKosky ST. Ginkgo biloba for preventing cognitive decline in older adults: a randomized trial. JAMA 2009 Dec 23;302(24):2663-70.
  2. CRNPR09RespondsGinkgoBilobaStudy122909.html

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