« Recall of Tylenol arthritis medication expanded | Main | Don't mix alcohol and energy drinks, expert says »

December 30, 2009

Ginkgo biloba won't boost your memory

Millions of people take vitamin supplements and among the most popular is ginkgo biloba, with a reputation for boosting concentration, memory and even thwarting dementia.

But the popular herb has been proven to do none of those things, according to a new study appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study is being called the largest clinical trial to date on the plant extract's value in slowing cognitive decline.

In the study of some 3,000 people ages 72 to 96, half received doses of 120-mog ginkgo extract twice a day for about six years. The other half got a placebo. The team of researchers didn't find any difference in memory language or attention and saw no differences in effects by age, race or education.

It isn't surprising. Last year, a comprehensive clinical trial concluded that supplement is not effective in prolonging or staving off Alzheimer's. An accompanying editorial said taking the supplement won't help and could possibly cause harm.

It's not just ginko biloba whose medical benefits have been questioned. The jury's still out on a host of supplements. Yet Americans spend billions every year on them.

Do you? What do you think?

AFP/Getty images

Posted by Kelly Brewington at 7:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: General Health


thats a bunch of bull!!! several people in my family take it and it has defenite helped us. my stepfather was daignosed with alzhiemers 17 years ago:used to get lost at walmart and kmart after ginkgo supplementation never got lost again, is fully functional and driving everywhere today at 78 years old. also have an 85 year old testimonial. thats why people dont trust fda etc. because they dont look for the truth and are bought up.

Who paid for this study?

Hey Eve. Thanks for your question.

It's a government-sponsored study, paid for by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

The AMA and the NIH are not the last word on nutritional supplements, and I believe these organizations are generally anti-supplements anyway. There are many studies which have shown "...Ginkgo biloba can be used to improve blood circulation and reduce oxidative stress, two risk factors associated with the progression of cognitive decline..." As a member of the Life Extension Foundation, at, I would like the Sun to fairly present the other side of the supplements issue. A response to the study is available at and at the Council For Responsible Nutrition at
The use of supplements is backed up by scientific studies which doctors, the FDA and big pharma companies wish to deny or minimize for some reason.

Actually, I'm gonna go with the NIH and the AMA as the last word on supplements. Believe what you want. But this is apparently a good study. Clearly you are choosing to ignore the science -- or choosing some pseudo-science because you prefer its conclusions. It's your money.

Ginkgo has worked for me for years.

If this new research is for real then the first experts who did the first research are wrong? If so how could they give such false information

any substitute against it which can be used to improve emory scale

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
  • Health & Wellness newsletter
Your weekly dose of health news, tips and events for Maryland
See a sample | Sign up

Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Charm City Current
Stay connected