At this time, treatments of dementia with cholinesterase inhibitors and the drug, memantine, have shown only moderate benefit. Ginkgo biloba (ginkgo) has been studied endlessly to see whether it actually benefits patients with vascular brain disease and/or dementia. The results of studies are highly variable.
Sixty-three studies were screened by the authors. This is a review of 9 of the studies which were considered acceptable. The cognitive studies were in favor of ginkgo compared to placebo. The studies were not in favor of ginkgo in regard to the activities of daily living. The study results were more favorable for the Alzheimer’s subgroup of patients. 2372 patients were studied.
For this study, a standard Ginkgo biloba extract, EGb 761, was used. It contains 22.0-27.0% ginkgo flavonoids. Patients were included with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular or mixed dementia.
Studies of cognition improved in patients on Ginkgo biloba compared to the placebo group for the whole group with all types of dementia. This was at a statistically significant level. The activities of daily living (ADLs) were studied in 8 out of the 9 studies. The changes in scores for ADL were better in the Alzheimer’s group when compared to the whole group with dementia.
Because of the small, but real, benefit of Ginkgo biloba in dementia, more studies are needed to see if ginkgo would help in preventing or delaying dementia in a large clinical study.
CONCLUSION: Ginkgo biloba seems to be more effective against cognitive symptoms than placebo, especially for Alzheimer’s patients. Ginkgo is useful, clinically, in moderate dementia.
NOTE: Studies of Ginkgo biloba usually have the problem that all patients with various kinds of dementia are lumped together, as if they all had the same underlying problem. That is true of these studies. The inclusion of different kinds of dementia tends to “water down” the study results. Another problem has been the inclusion of different doses of ginkgo in a single study. Read about more studies of Ginkgo biloba in dementia.
Read about the benefits of the mushroom, Yamabushitake, against cognitive impairment.
To read the author’s abstract of the article click on the link to the author’s title of the article above.