Can Ginkgo biloba prevent memory loss and improve cognitive function?
Answer From Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.
Ginkgo biloba extract, derived from the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree, is often touted as a memory aid. But it appears unlikely that Ginkgo biloba extract can slow or prevent age-related memory problems, or memory loss associated with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease.
Several small, early studies showed modest improvements in cognitive function for older adults with dementia. However, a number of larger studies haven't confirmed that Ginkgo biloba extract prevents memory loss or slows the progression of cognitive decline or Alzheimer's disease in older adults. In adults with normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment, Ginkgo biloba does not slow cognitive decline.
Although some studies have shown slight improvements in cognitive function for people taking Ginkgo biloba, most experts feel that Ginkgo biloba hasn't lived up to its early promise and don't recommend its use as a memory aid.
Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.
April 20, 2019
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