The University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary Medicine website, reviews recent studies of gingko biloba for dementia, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease. Here is an excerpt:
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Ginkgo is widely used in Europe for treating dementia. It use is primarily due to its ability to improve blood flow to the brain and because of its antioxidant properties. The evidence that ginkgo may improve thinking, learning, and memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been highly promising.
Clinical studies suggest that ginkgo may provide the following benefits for people with AD:
Improvement in thinking, learning, and memory (cognitive function)
Improvement in activities of daily living
Improvement in social behavior
Fewer feelings of depression
Several studies have found that ginkgo may be as effective as leading AD medications in delaying the symptoms of dementia in people with this debilitating condition. In addition, ginkgo is sometimes used preventively because it may delay the onset of AD in someone who is at risk for this type of dementia (for example, family history).
Citation (one of several recent studies cited by UMMC): Mazza M, Capuano A, Bria P, Mazza S. Ginkgo biloba and donepezil [Aricept]: a comparison in the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia in a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study. Eur J Neurol . 2006;13(9):981-5.
See also the NYBC entry on Gingko Biloba for additional information on use of this botanical for cognitive function.