Ginkgo Biloba Aging

Ginkgo Biloba Aging supplement to slow or prevent cognitive decline as you age. This herb has been used for many years and all sorts of claims are made about it: that it wards off cognitive decline, that it prevents the onset of Alzheimers, that it improves memory in the aged.

It is one of the supplements covered by Dharma Singh Khalsa M.D in his book, Brain Longevity. but of course we want to know, "What does the research say? Are they any persons who should not take this herb?"

As I reviewed research studies about Ginkgo Biloba Aging, I found several that I think you may find helpful.

First, is a piece published in the The British Medical Journal. They offered a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about this Ginkgo Biloba Aging and its cognitive effects:

What are the benefits and side effects of Ginkgo Biloba? Does it cause high blood pressure?

  • Answer#1 by Ali K Yousuf ( Karachi, Pakistan).

    "The dried leaf of the ginkgo tree has been used in medicine for thousands of years. More than 400 studies over the past 30 years have investigated its ability to improve blood flow in a variety of conditions including memory impairment, dementia, peripheral vascular diseases, and tinnitus. The results have shown modest improvements, not to some remarkable levels. The results much depend on the patient's psychological framework.

    In general, it is well tolerated. Allergic skin reactions, gastrointestinal upsets, and headaches occur in fewer than 2% of patients. There are theoretical concerns about a risk of increased bleeding because of inhibition of platelet activating factor. Although no bleeding complications have been reported in any clinical trials, caution should be exercised when taking ginkgo with aspirin, warfarin, or other anticoagulant. No effects on blood pressure have been documented."

  • Answer #2 by Vikas Soni ( Ahmadabad, India).

    "Ginkgo biloba is said to have neutral effects on blood pressure. However, there are reports suggesting that it may have anti hypertensive actions.

    In a study on healthy, young volunteers, ginkgo in a dose of 120 mg given twice daily for seven days was not found to have any immediate or short term effects on systolic or diastolic blood pressure.1 In a randomized, double blind trial a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure was reported in elderly patients with age related cognitive dysfunction who were given an extract of ginkgo (GB-8) for three months.2 In one study on healthy volunteers, a single treatment with an extract of ginkgo (EGb 761, 120 mg) was found to reduce stress induced rise in blood pressure without affecting the heart rate.3

    1. Kalus JS, Piotrowski AA, Fortier CR, Liu X, Kluger J, White CM. Hemodynamic and electrocardiographic effects of short-term Ginkgo biloba. Ann Pharmacother 2003;37: 345-9. [PubMed]
    2. .
    3. Winther K, Randløv C, Rein E, Mehlsen J. Effects of Ginkgo biloba extract on cognitive function and blood pressure in elderly subjects. Curr Ther Res 1998;59: 881-8.
    4. Jezova D, Duncko R, Lassanova M, Kriska M, Moncek F. Reduction of rise in blood pressure and cortisol release during stress by Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) in healthy volunteers. J Physiol Pharmacol 2002;53: 337-48. [PubMed]."

    See: Ginkgo Biloba Aging information

There are additional studies about Ginkgo Biloba Aging and its effects on the brain.

  • As early as 2002, scientists found some effects of Ginkgo Biloba Aging on the brain. The Proceedings of the United States National Academy of sciences published a study that showed Ginkgo Biloba had a negative effect on the "formation of amyloid-ß (Aß) fibrils, which are the diagnostic, and possibly causative, feature of AD (Alzheimers Disease). See: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 September 17; 99(19): 12197–12202.
  • Another Ginkgo Biloba Aging study: In 2004, the Journal Journal of Neuroinflammation published a study showing the ginkgoloids are effective against both the amyloids that precede Alzheimers and also against prions (associated with prion dementia)
  • A study by Clive Bate, Mourad Tayebi,and Alun Williams atthe epartment of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Herts, United Kingdon published in Mol Neurodegener, 2008. found a similar effect on the amyloid-ß (Aß) fibrils associated with Alzheimers.
  • Scientists from the Department of Public Health (H.H.D.), Oregon State University, Corvallis conducted a a randomized placebo-controlled trial of Ginkgo biloba for the prevention of cognitive decline among normal elderly age 85 and older. They published their results in Neurology in May of 2008.These researchers found that those who were faithful in taking this supplement showed protection against memory decline and against dementia. Since they also found some increase in TIA's stroke among those faithful to the supplement regeime, they noted that this would need to be studied next.

So, should you use this herb as part of your Anti-aging supplements? It certainly seems to have some effect on preventing cognitive decline.....but there are those few studies that associate its use with bleeding or TIA. It would be best to speak with your health care provider before using it - ESPECIALLY if you have a history of stroke, bleeding or high blood pressure.


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