Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is a tree from China, and Ginkgo biloba extracts are used to treat dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, cerebrovascular disease and vascular dementia. People with mild memory loss commonly use ginkgo. This study was a randomized, controlled, double-blind study of 410 patients with mild dementia. A specific extract called EGb 761 was used and neuropsychiatric symptoms were evaluated.
After neuropsychiatric testing, patients were given either 240 mg of the ginkgo extract or a placebo for 24 weeks. The testing included the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) and the SKT cognitive test battery (SKT) before and after treatment. (The patients were outpatients.)
The results after treatment show significant improvement in the following: “apathy/indifference, sleep/nighttime behavior, irritability/lability, depression/dysphoria, and aberrant motor behavior”. The caregiver’s distress score also improved.
CONCLUSION: Mild to moderate dementia patients show improvement with treatment by an extract of Ginkgo biloba. Their caregivers show less distress.
NOTE: The usual dose of ginkgo is 120 mg/day. This study used a dose of 240 mg/day, and side effects were not seen at that level. One previous study didn’t show significant improvement in the patients, but did reveal that caregivers indicated that the patients were much easier to manage.