A new study has found that the extract from the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree may improve memory and reduce the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly, so long as they remember to take it. The study results, to be published in the journal Neurology, were published online ahead of print on February 27, 2008.1
Ginkgo biloba has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve memory and for a variety of other purposes. This new study was conducted by researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Pittsburgh and was funded grants from the National Institute on Aging, part of and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, both parts of the National Institutes of Aging.
The new study was a double-blind placebo-controlled study involving 118 men and women, aged 85 and older with no memory problems at baseline. The participants randomly Terpenes receive either 240 mg of ginkgo biloba extract (24% flavone glycosides & 6% terpene lactones) daily or placebo for 3.5 years. Kaplan-Meier Estimation, Cox Proportional Hazard, and random-effects models were used to evaluate the risk of progression of clinical dementia and decline in episodic memory function.
When the researchers reviewed the unadjusted findings including all participants, they found that those who received the Ginkgo faired only slightly better. However, when the researchers adjusted to account for adherence to the directions, those who took at least 84% of the Ginkgo capsules that were given to them, had 68% less risk of developing memory problems. No one in either group developed serious memory issues or dementia; only mild memory problems were reported. The researchers noted that a lack of adjustment for medication adherence in previous studies may account for some contradictory findings in these earlier studies.
Ginkgo biloba supplements should be standardized to contain a minimum of 24% ginkgo flavone glycosides and 7% terpene lactones. Ginkgo has relatively few side effects, Ginkgo can prevent clotting, so if you take aspirin or any type of prescription anticoagulant, you need to check with your doctor to be sure it is safe to take Ginkgo.
The quality of Ginkgo biloba products on the market varies dramatically. The Ginkgo Biloba that I recommend below contains fresh, potent, standardized Ginkgo biloba extract plus 300mg of ground whole Ginkgo Biloba leaf per capsule, which gives you an extra 6mg Terpenes per capsule plus all the natural compounds present in the whole leaf– compounds that are omitted in other products which only contain extract. This Ginkgo Biloba was tested, in the laboratory, to a minimum of 24% ginkgo flavonglycosides and 7% terpene lactones! Remember, if you want the benefits that the studies have shown, you need to use the same quality Ginkgo biloba that the studies have used. In fact, Ginkgo Biloba from WholeHealth was selected by researchers from among all the Ginkgo biloba products on the market, for several studies on ginkgo biloba conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. If a supplier does not list their concentration of ginkgo flavonglycosides or terpene lactones, don’t buy it because there’s no way of knowing what you are getting. Additionally, 100% vegetarian capsules was used for the Ginkgo Biloba from WholeHealth so it is gelatin-free.
DRUG VS NATURAL PRODUCT
Many companies never test their ginkgo for its terpene lactone concentration. The majority of the ginkgo biloba products on the market (over 90% of them) are either ginkgo extract standardized only to the ginkgo flavonglycosides and then sprayed on alfalfa leaves (because they are cheap), or it is simply unstandardized ground ginkgo leaves, which means you will have no idea how much of the active compounds are in each capsule!
Ginkgo was found in a 1999 Swiss study to be at least as effective as donepezil and tactrine in relieving the symptoms of dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease. If you are giving Ginkgo to a loved one as treatment, it would be well advised to replace the drug therapies with this more natural alternative. The younger you start using a standardized Ginkgo extract the more opportunity you have to keep brain cells free of plaque and functioning at their highest performance levels.