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Format: 04/19/2014
Format: 04/19/2014

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KDKA-TV: Study: Ginkgo probably not worth the money

Monday, January 4th, 2010

If you take ginkgo for memory, you might as well forget about it and save your money. 

A study in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" says it won't help slow the decline in thinking abilities in the elderly.

The herb ginkgo biloba has long been marketed as a memory-enhancing supplement.

"I read in a magazine it's supposed to improve memory, and kind of give you energy upstart, and I never felt any different, so I just figured I was just throwing my money out the window, so I stopped," says Jennifer Diaz of Regent Square.

"I have never taken it myself, I don't have a memory problem, either," says Mike Walsh of Fairfield, Connecticut.

With annual sales of $250 million in the U.S., the flavanoid-containing product is thought to protect the brain from damaging proteins seen with Alzheimer's disease.

And while it's safe and inexpensive, a large, well-designed study shows, it doesn't work.

"What was needed is a double blind controlled study, which this was, and really this is what we call evidence-based medicine," explains Dr. Jon Brillman, a neurologist at Allegheny General Hospital.

Over eight years, researchers followed more than 3,000 patients ages 72 to 96. They took either 120 mg of ginkgo twice a day or placebo.

There was no difference between the two groups in terms of memory, attention, judging surroundings, language or planning.

Despite this evidence, this neurologist acknowledges some people really feel strongly about taking it.
 

To read more, visit the KDKA-TV web site.

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