Taking Ginkgo Biloba? Maybe You Should Reconsider

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pic7Alzheimer’s Disease runs in my family.  It’s a horrible disease, stripping your identity, abilities, and mind.  The victim of this disorder is left eventually helpless, unable to do anything for themselves, and not able to recognize family or friends.  Life skills vanish, they don’t know where or who they are- even what the date is.  It is a horrible way to live, and a terrible thing to watch someone go through.

Some people live decades with Alzheimer’s Disease.

For this reason, myself and many people in my family have been taking Ginkgo Biloba for years, as it was recommended and thought to ward off things like Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and sharpen the mind. Even doctors and pharmacists recommend it- it is the “most prescribed supplement in Germany (and apparently the treatment of choice for dementia), and is #9 in sales among herbals in the United States” (source- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database).

However, I was at my neurologist yesterday (I suffer from migraines) and he told me that there have been new studies out that prove Ginkgo Biloba is not only ineffective, but also that it can cause seizures from long term use as well as lead to bleeding in the brain spontaneously or increasing any bleeding that may otherwise occur.  I began to read all the studies that he presented to me, and I will for sure not be taking Ginkgo Biloba any more.  There does not seem to be any benefit, but there does seem to be quite a few risks that I don’t need to take.

What once seemed to be a possible stave-off for mental issues in aging is now not only ineffective but somewhat dangerous for some people, as seem to be true in the  publication of the December 2009 Journal of the American Medical Association.

I found a very coherent, easy to read statement about the study above, the AMA and the Ginkgo biloba for Preventing Cognitive Decline in Older Adults: A Randomized Trial JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, and others.  It is a nice wrap up that is easy to understand.

“The largest and best-designed study to examine Ginkgo biloba has found it ineffective in reducing the incidence of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or in reducing the rate of cognitive decline in older adults. This is a persuasive study. In a population that is very close to the “real world” that might consider taking the product, no effect of ginkgo has been shown. The product studied was the most-evaluated ginkgo product and one standardized for active ingredients. Given the documented risks of bleeding with ginkgo, the risk-benefit calculation now tilts strongly away from treatment: There are risks, and no demonstrated benefits.  It’s time for pharmacists to start recommending against self-treatment with Ginkgo biloba for the treatment or prevention of dementia or cognitive decline.” (source http://sciencebasedpharmacy.wordpress.com )

I’m not a doctor.  All I know is I am done with Ginkgo Biloba, and I wanted to pass this along in case any of you were taking it as well.  Read more, call your doctors and ask questions. Words for thought.




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