Prevention of Alzheimer's disease?

First, let’s understand Alzheimer’s disease (sometimes referred to as just Alzheimer’s) and what effects it can have on the body. Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia that is the (usually slow) degeneration of normal brain functions. Some symptoms to diagnose Alzheimer’s include memory loss, confusion, disorientation, changes in mood, behavior, and personality, and lack of initiative.

* Picture above shows an MRI scan of a person's brain without Alzheimer's disease and a person with Alzheimer's disease. This picture is courtesy of Institute Douglas from

Ginkgo biloba was first thought to help prevent against Alzheimer’s disease because a few studies reported positive effects linking slower progression of brain degeneration and Ginkgo biloba extract. These cases showed mainly an increase in memory. For years, people have been using the Ginkgo biloba as preventative caution against Alzheimer’s, but today some scientists believe that we may have over estimated its effects.

Today, more and more studies are showing that the Ginkgo biloba isn’t any more helpful than a placebo to prevent against Alzheimer’s. These studies were usually done with a great number of patients over many years. There is one specific study called the GEM (Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory) study that many scientists as well as doctors refer to when asked about Ginkgo biloba and its effects on Alzheimer’s. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “GEM is the largest clinical trial ever to evaluate ginkgo’s effect on the occurrence of dementia.” Steven T. DeKosky led the experiment and it consisted of 3,069 participants who took either a placebo or 120 mg of Ginkgo biloba twice a day totaling 240 mg per day. The experiment lasted for eight years. The results showed that those who took the G. biloba and those who took the placebo had almost the exact same number of people who were diagnosed with dementia, further proving that the Ginkgo biloba has a very small, if any, significance on Alzheimer’s disease. (For more in depth results from this experiment click HERE.) The experiment also showed that side effects for the G. biloba are very rare and if a patient happened to show some side effects they usually were a headache, stomachache, or rash.

Some scientists say Ginkgo biloba extract has a positive effect on preventing Alzheimer’s. Some say it has no effect. Either way, there needs to be more research done to prove the interaction between Ginkgo biloba and Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. Ginkgo biloba has proven to that it can enhance short-term memory due to the opening of blood vessels around the brain, but more research must be done to prove its effects on Alzheimer’s disease.

Now that we see how Ginkgo biloba can affect us, go to INTERACTIONS to discover how the Ginkgo biloba can affect other organisms.