Chicago, IL—At the end of last year, Ginkgo biloba became a top story as research printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), published here, indicated that the herb did not prevent cognitive decline in older adults. The group came to this conclusion after analyzing data from the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study conducted between 2000 and 2008. These are secondary findings; the first set, published in 2008, indicated that the herb did not prevent dementia (though 40% of the active group didn’t comply with the supplement regimen).
This most recent round of data suffers from some of the same problems as the original analysis. Says Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Natural Products Association, “As we stated in our comments regarding the 2008 GEM [Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory] study last year, the boat has left the dock and this study isn’t on it.” One such problem is that the study participants were ages 75 and older. To study cognitive decline, it would have made more sense to follow individuals beginning in their 30s.
This research should not undermine established literature on the benefits of Gingko biloba, particularly in “providing symptomatic relief in persons who already suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease,” stated American Herbal Products Association’s Chief Science Officer, Steven Dentali, Ph.D.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, Feb. 2010