Ginkgo biloba ineffective in preventing dementia

Ginkgo biloba is one of the natural health products sold to protect cognitive function, as well as to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Ginkgo has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 500 years. Until now, however, evidence of its effectiveness has been conflicting. The largest study ever conducted on the subject was recently published: it reveals that taking ginkgo extract does not improve memory, nor does it prevent cognitive decline.

With the average age of Canadians continuing to rise, many are trying to maintain their mental abilities in order to age well. Ginkgo biloba is one of the natural health products sold to protect cognitive function, as well as to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Ginkgo has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 500 years. Until now, however, evidence of its effectiveness has been conflicting. The largest study ever conducted on the subject was recently published: it reveals that taking ginkgo extract does not improve memory, nor does it prevent cognitive decline.

More than 3,000 patients between the ages of 72 and 96 were followed for an average of six years as they took 120 mg of ginkgo extract or a placebo twice a day. The patients were tested approximately every six months. The study was designed according to the highest standards of pharmaceutical research.

The results show that the extract did not help reduce the incidence of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It also did not have any effect on cognitive functions, namely memory, visual-spatial construction, language, concentration, psychomotor speed and executive functions.

On the other hand, the study confirmed that ginkgo is safe for most people. Individuals who wish to take this extract should consult their pharmacist to make sure that it has no interactions with prescription medication they may be taking. While it is a “natural” product, ginkgo biloba is not recommended for everyone; persons with bleeding disorders, for example, should not use it.

So what can we do to prevent dementia? There is growing evidence that a healthy lifestyle – which includes regular physical activity and a diet high in fruit and vegetables – can help prevent cognitive decline. Exercising acts by maintaining a healthy bloodstream, preventing brain-damaging strokes, and by ensuring that the brain remains well oxygenated.

If you or a loved one seem to be experiencing memory problems, it is important to see a physician.

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