Ginger (Zingiber officinale) was tested to see if there was any effect on the cognitive function of 60 normal, middle-aged women. Ginger has been used in Middle Eastern medicine as a cognitive enhancer. Herbs such as ginger, which are strong anti-oxidants, are believed to be memory enhancers. Memory can be impaired by oxidation resulting from stress and can be improved with anti-oxidants. The participants of this study were in three groups. Some received placebo, some received ginger 400 mg, and some received ginger 800 mg daily. The patients were tested after one and two months of treatment.
The effect of the ginger treatments was tested using evoked potentials*. The ginger-treated subjects showed significantly reduced P300 latencies, increased amplitudes of N100 and P300 amplitudes, and improved working memory on extensive testing. The N100 amplitudes were increased, and the N100 latency was decreased after 1 month of 800 mg. ginger. The P300 amplitudes were increased after 2 months on 400 mg. or 800 mg. of ginger. Evoked potentials measure such things as accuracy, reaction times, and attention.
The subjects who received 800 mg of ginger for 1 month had increased percent accuracy of choice reaction time and numeric working memory. After two months of 400 mg ginger, they showed faster reaction time for word recognition. Those who received 800 mg ginger for two months had improved working memory, continuity of attention, and speed of memory as well as quality of memory.
CONCLUSION: Ginger is a verified memory enhancer in normal, middle-aged women, with improvement in attention and in cognitive processing.
NOTE: *Evoked potentials are tests which record brain patterns, as are electroencephalograms (EEGs). These potentials come from deeper in the brain and may be the result of a sound or of a flashing light. P300 and N100 are different evoked potentials with specific meanings.
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