5

Most Ginkgo Biloba supplements are sold with the following claims:

  • Studied and Shown to promote memory and provide healthy circulation to the body's extremities. (src)

  • Helps support your memory and mental alertness (src)

(I stopped at 2 first sellers on my Google search, but I saw the similar claims on many other brands)

Does Ginkgo Biloba "promote memory"?

9

While some studies have promoted Ginkgo Biloba as possibly having these effects, the results have been mixed at best, and the claims seem to be unlikely.


WebMD says the following with regards to Ginkgo Biloba:

Ginkgo improves blood flow to the brain and acts as an antioxidant. These effects may translate into some benefits for certain medical problems, but the results have been mixed.

Some studies have found that in healthy people, ginkgo might modestly boost memory and cognitive speed. Other studies have not found a benefit.

WebMD claims multiple sources in the article, but besides Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center I would not call any of the sources as reputable.


A Meta Analysis of Ginkgo Biloba was first done in 2012. In this Meta Analysis...

Scopus, Medline, Google Scholar databases and recent qualitative reviews were searched for studies examining the effects of G. biloba on cognitive function in healthy individuals. We identified randomised controlled trials containing data on memory (K = 13), executive function (K = 7) and attention (K = 8) from which effect sizes could be derived. The analyses provided measures of memory, executive function and attention in 1132, 534 and 910 participants, respectively.

The results of this Meta Analysis were not flattering to Ginkgo Biloba in terms of the claims.

Results

Effect sizes were non-significant and close to zero for memory (d = −0.04: 95%CI −0.17 to 0.07), executive function (d = −0.05: 95%CI −0.17 to 0.05) and attention (d = −0.08: 95%CI −0.21 to 0.02). Meta-regressions showed that effect sizes were not related to participant age, duration of the trial, daily dose, total dose or sample size.

Conclusions

We report that G. biloba had no ascertainable positive effects on a range of targeted cognitive functions in healthy individuals.


Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that there is no conclusive evidence that Ginkgo Biloba has the health effects described by manufacturers.

How Much Do We Know?

  • There have been a lot of studies on the possible health effects and risks of people using ginkgo.

What Have We Learned?

  • There’s no conclusive evidence that ginkgo is helpful for any health condition.
  • Ginkgo doesn’t help prevent or slow dementia or cognitive decline, according to studies, including the long-term Ginkgo Evaluation Memory Study, which enrolled more than 3,000 older adults and was funded in part by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
  • There’s no strong evidence that ginkgo helps with memory enhancement in healthy people, blood pressure, intermittent claudication, tinnitus, age-related macular degeneration, the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, or with other conditions.
  • Ongoing NCCIH-funded research is looking at whether a compound in ginkgo may help with diabetes.
  • 2
    Could you explain more why you think the sources WebMD lists are not reputable? – Jayson Virissimo Jul 7 '17 at 18:04
  • 1
    @JaysonVirissimo Several are alternative medicine sites, alternative medicine tends to lack credibility. – SiXandSeven8ths Jul 7 '17 at 18:59
  • The biggest issue in studying something like this is the quality (and sometimes type) of the ingredient used. This is sometimes an explanation for why the studies vary wildly. A meta analysis on such things should be taken with a grain of salt. – fredsbend Jul 8 '17 at 3:49
  • See also examine.com/supplements/ginkgo-biloba – noumenal Jul 15 '17 at 19:02

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