Study debunks ginkgo as memory enhancer

February 29th, 2008 - 12:37 am ICT by admin  


Washington, Feb 28 (IANS) A three-year-long study of the effects of ginkgo biloba extracts has confirmed what some earlier studies had found - that it does not really help enhance memory. The extract of the leaves of the Ginkgo - found mostly in China - contains flavonoid glycosides and terpenoids, and was at one time marketed as a memory and concentration enhancer.

The new and exhaustive study involved 118 people aged 85 and older with no memory problems. Half of them took the ginkgo extract three times daily and the other half took a placebo.

Twenty-one people developed mild memory problems, or questionable dementia, 14 took the placebo and seven took the extract.

Although there was a trend favouring the ginkgo, the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant.

Researchers noted that people who reliably took the supplement had a 68 percent lower risk of developing mild memory problems than those who took the placebo. Without further study, it is unclear if this difference is real or just a chance occurrence.

The study cautioned that people taking ginkgo biloba were more likely to have a stroke or transient ischemic attack, or mini stroke. Seven people taking ginkgo had strokes, while none of those taking the placebo did.

The findings have been published in the latest issue of online medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Ginkgo has been reported to cause bleeding-related complications, but the strokes in this case were due to blood clots, not excessive bleeding, and were generally not severe,” said author Hiroko Dodge of Oregon State University in Corvallis.

“These findings are interesting because ginkgo biloba is already widely used, readily available, and relatively inexpensive,” said Dodge.

“One of the most pressing public health problems facing our society is the rapidly growing number of people are at high risk of developing dementia,” he added.

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