Ginkgo biloba for memory-a dream that did not materalize

Just a quick post about Ginkgo biloba. Some of my patients use Ginkgo biloba extract as a supplement to enhance memory and prevent neurodegenerative conditions like Alzhemier’s dementia. The data that it is indeed effective has always been inconclusive. I always feel that if  a drug is truly effective for a condition then we seldom need studies to prove it. It is only when the evidence is insufficient to suport a recommendation that studies are needed. Many of these are funded by the drug manufacturer (large pharmaceutical companies).

Recently results were made available from a big study looking at whether Ginkgo biloba extract actually aided in preventing Alzheimer’s dementia. The study found that Ginkgo biloba did not prevent or delay dementia or Alzhemier’s disease. In simple words, the study showed that it does not work. Further there is some data to show that it may actually be dangerous to take this extract as it increases the risk of hemorrhagic strokes (bleeding in the brain).

My advise to my readers would be to avoid taking this supplement till we have more conclusive data on its effectiveness. Especially avoid taking supratherapeutic doses (large doses).


Nitin Sethi, MD