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Ginkgo effective for Alzheimer's disease.

Four hundred-ten patients (mean age, 65 years) with mild to moderate dementia (Alzheimer's disease with or without cerebrovascular disease or vascular dementia) were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, 240 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 (ginkgo) once a day or placebo for 24 weeks. The mean composite score on the Neuropsychiatric Inventory improved by 19.6% in the ginkgo group and did not change in the placebo group (p < 0.001 for the difference in the change between groups). Ginkgo was significantly superior to placebo for the symptoms apathy/indifference, sleep/nighttime behavior, irritability/lability, depression/dysphoria, and aberrant motor behavior. Caregivers' distress evaluation also indicated a beneficial effect of ginkgo.

Comment: Numerous studies have investigated the effect of ginkgo in patients with mild to moderate dementia. Although the results have been conflicting, the bulk of the evidence (including the present study) indicates that ginkgo has a modest beneficial effect and is well tolerated. In the present study, ginkgo not only improved behavioral and neuropsychiatric symptoms of the patients, it also improved the well-being of their caregivers. Ginkgo has been found in previous studies to be ineffective for preventing dementia in elderly people with normal cognitive function. That fact that has been emphasized by skeptics to support their erroneous conclusion that ginkgo is worthless as a treatment for mild to moderate dementia.

Bachinskaya N et al. Alleviating neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia: the effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761. Findings from a randomized controlled trial. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2011;7:209-215.

by Alan R. Gaby, MD

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Title Annotation:Literature Review & Commentary
Author:Gaby, Alan R.
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2012
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