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Disappointing Ginkgo

January 25, 2010

Researchers report that ginkgo biloba is ineffective against cognitive decline in older adults.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Ginkgo on the mind…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The supplement Ginkgo biloba has long been touted as a memory enhancer. But in the largest clinical trial of its kind ever conducted, researchers have found that ginkgo is ineffective at staving off cognitive decline in older adults. Dr. Steven Dekosky of the University of Virginia and his colleagues followed over 3,000 people ages 72 and older for about six years each. Half took ginkgo pills twice a day and the other half took a placebo.

STEVEN DeKOSKY (University of Virginia School of Medicine):
This study didn’t find any difference between the two froups in language function, memory function, visual spatial function and what we call executive function, the ability to make decisions. The good news about ginkgo is that it’s inexpensive and it appears to be safe, but the bad news is, it doesn’t work.

HIRSHON:
He says U.S. citizens spend 100 million dollars on ginkgo preparations every year. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.