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Ginkgo Biloba Supplementation May Prevent Cognitive Decline

A latest study found that ginkgo biloba may be beneficial in slowing down the cognitive decline in the elderly population.

Age-related cognitive decline is one of the main challenges of mental health research. As no curative treatment for dementia presently exists, an alternative would be to find strategies that could contribute to attenuating cognitive decline in the elderly. In France, Ginkgo biloba extract has been marketed for more than thirty years as a medication for memory impairment, and is well-known for its effect on the protection of neuronal cell membranes from free radical damage.

In a recent cohort study, French scientists assessed the association between intake of ginkgo biloba extract and cognitive function of elderly adults over a 20-year period. The data were gathered from the prospective community-based study ‘Paquid’. This study included a sample of 3612 non-demented participants aged 65 and over at baseline. Three groups were compared: 589 subjects reporting use of a ginkgo biloba extract; 149 subjects reporting use of piracetam – a nootropic drug; and 2874 subjects not reporting use of either. Decline on MMSE (as an evaluation of mental status), verbal fluency and visual memory over the 20-year follow-up was analysed with a multivariate mixed linear effects model.

A significant difference in MMSE decline was observed in both of the treatment groups compared to the ‘neither treatment’ control group. The ginkgo biloba group declined less rapidly than the ‘neither treatment’ group, whereas the piracetam group declined more rapidly. Regarding verbal fluency and visual memory, no difference was observed between the ginkgo biloba group and the ‘neither treatment’ group, whereas the piracetam group declined more rapidly.

In conclusion, cognitive decline in a non-demented elderly population was lower in subjects who reported using ginkgo biloba than in those who did not. It appears that ginkgo biloba supplementation may have beneficial effect on long-term cognitive decline.

Amieva H, et al (2013). PLoS ONE 8(1): e52755. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052755

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