A single copy of this article may be reprinted for personal, noncommercial use only.
Ginkgo biloba: Can it prevent memory loss?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ginkgo-biloba-memory-loss/AN01981
- With Mayo Clinic internist
Brent A. Bauer, M.D.read biographyclose window
Brent A. Bauer, M.D.Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
Brent Bauer, M.D., is board certified in internal medicine. He is a consultant in the Department of Internal Medicine and director of the Department of Internal Medicine's Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Bauer, a native of Madison, Wis., is also a professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School and a graduate of Mayo Medical School.
He serves on the editorial board of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter and is medical editor for EmbodyHealth Newsletter. He has been on staff at Mayo Clinic since 1992, first practicing at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., before joining Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., in 1996.
Dr. Bauer's principal research focus is the scientific evaluation of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies that patients and consumers are using with increasing frequency. He has authored several book chapters and papers on this topic, and is the medical editor of the "Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine." Dr. Bauer also spearheaded collaboration between Mayo Clinic and Gaiam in the creation of a series of 10 DVDs (Mayo Clinic Wellness Solutions). These DVDs address common health problems (for example, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure) with integrative medicine approaches that empower people to take charge of their health. His work is at the forefront of the emerging field of integrative medicine which combines the best of conventional medicine with the best of evidence-based complementary therapies.
Dr. Bauer has served on the NIH-NCCAM study section and is currently collaborating on over 20 studies being conducted at Mayo Clinic evaluating CAM therapies ranging from acupuncture to valerian. He is also a member of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society; the American Federation for Medical Research; the North Central Cancer Treatment Group and other professional organizations.
Risk factors (2)
- Oophorectomy (ovary removal): A risk factor for dementia?
- Alzheimer's: Can a head injury increase my risk?
- Sundowning: Late-day confusion
Tests and diagnosis (2)
- Rapidly progressing Alzheimer's: Something else?
- Alzheimer's test: Detection at the earliest stages
- Phantosmia: What causes olfactory hallucinations?
Treatments and drugs (3)
- Folic acid supplements: Can they slow cognitive decline?
- Vitamin B-12: Can it improve memory in Alzheimer's?
- Alzheimer's nose spray: New Alzheimer's treatment?
Lifestyle and home remedies (2)
- Alzheimer's: Can a Mediterranean diet lower my risk?
- Music and Alzheimer's: Can it help?
Alternative medicine (5)
- Phosphatidylserine supplements: Can they improve memory?
- Vitamin B-12: Can it improve memory in Alzheimer's?
- Axona: Medical food to treat Alzheimer's
- see all in Alternative medicine
Coping and support (1)
- Elder care for Alzheimer's: Choosing a provider
- Alzheimer's disease: Can exercise prevent memory loss?
- Alzheimer's prevention: Does it exist?
- Benefits of being bilingual: Delay Alzheimer's?
Ginkgo biloba: Can it prevent memory loss?
Can ginkgo biloba prevent memory loss and improve cognitive function in people with Alzheimer's disease?
from Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
Ginkgo biloba, derived from the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree, is often touted as a memory aid. But it appears unlikely that ginkgo biloba can prevent memory loss associated with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease.
Small, early studies showed modest improvements in cognitive function for older adults with dementia. However, the results of a large-scale study, published in a December 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found no evidence that ginkgo biloba prevents memory loss or slows the progression of cognitive decline in older adults. This was true for both those who had mild cognitive impairment at the start of the study and for those who didn't.
A single study rarely provides a complete picture of the benefits and risks of any herb or drug. However, in this case, ginkgo biloba doesn't appear to be living up to its earlier promise.Next question
Elder care for Alzheimer's: Choosing a provider
- DeKosky ST, et al. Ginkgo biloba for prevention of dementia: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2008;300:2253.
- Ginkgo. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed March 10, 2011.
- Saper R. Clinical use of ginkgo biloba. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 10, 2011.
- Kelly BJ, et al. Alternative medicine and Alzheimer disease. Neurologist. 2008;14:299.
- Birks J, et al. Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007:CD003120.
- Snitz BE, et al. Ginkgo biloba for preventing cognitive decline in older adults. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2009;302:2663.
- Bauer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 10, 2011.
- Brown LA, et al. Supplementing cognitive aging: A selective review of the effects of ginkgo biloba and a number of everyday nutritional substances. Experimental Aging Research. 2010;36:105.