Though there is experimental evidence for and against claims that gingko biloba can boost memory (see, e.g., ARF related news story on negative trial in healthy adults), a few positive studies, combined with persistent anecdotal evidence and advertising, have helped boost the coffers of supplement makers, especially in Europe, where gingko is commonly used in attempts to boost memory both in normal aging and in Alzheimer disease. Researchers will now attempt to put gingko to a rigorous scientific test in the earliest stages of AD, according to a news release issued August 19 by the Imperial College London. The project is funded by the Alzheimer's Society, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, along with the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, will also collaborate in the research.
The researchers, led by James Warner, of Imperial College London and St Mary's Hospital, intend to study 250 patients, aged 55 and over, who are still living in the community and being treated by a general practitioner. Gingko (60 mg, twice daily) will be tested against a placebo in the double-blind trial. Patients will continue to take their conventional medicines for age-associated memory loss.
"We believe gingko may prove more effective if prescribed in a community setting, where patients' symptoms are usually less severe. This trial will help us to find out whether with gingko it's a case of 'the sooner the better' for patients who may benefit from taking it," Warner is quoted as saying in the press release.—Hakon Heimer