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The Mindless Ginkgo

Summary #

Ginkgo biloba is a species of tree that is claimed to help prevent memory loss, reverse the effects of dementia, and prevent the onset of Alzheimer's. A recent study showed no such effects.

Gingko biloba

(Photo: kcm76 on Flickr)

Commentary #

The study was the latest product of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)—an organization that uses taxpayer money to design excellent studies to demonstrate the worthlessness of alternative medicines (such as homeopathy).

This particular study is impressive:

[The study is a] randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 3069 community-dwelling participants aged 72 to 96 years, conducted in 6 academic medical centers in the United States between 2000 and 2008, with a median follow-up of 6.1 years.

Their conclusion: "Annual rates of decline in z scores did not differ between G. biloba and placebo groups in any domains..." (emphasis added). Which domains did they test? Among them were memory, attention, visuospatial abilities, and language.

See Also #

  • Ginkgo biloba – No Effect at Science-Based Medicine where Steven Novella points out that some of the effects of supplements (e.g., blood thinning) may pose unnecessary risks (e.g., patients undergoing surgery).