The herb ginkgo biloba has been used in China for
hundreds of years to enhance memory, improve mood, and alleviate
headaches. Many Americans currently take the supplement for
the same reasons, as it is marketed to offer these benefits,
but proof of its success has been limited to few tests of
memory and to people suffering from an illness.
In a recent study, 115 people over 60 years old took 40 milligrams
of ginkgo three times per day (the recommended dosage) for
six weeks, while another 115 took a placebo at the same frequency
for comparison. Neither group was aware of which type of pills
they were taking.
improvements in memory or mental sharpness were observed in
either group, based on a battery of neuropsychological tests.
Even when different outcome measures like verbal memory, concentration,
and attention were looked at separately, the supplement offered
no significant benefits.
So should you bother taking ginkgo biloba? The verdict is
still out. If the supplement does offer improvements to concentration
and memory, it has yet to be scientifically proven. In the
meanwhile, other ways to keep a sharp mind include an antioxidant-rich
diet, low alcohol consumption, and performing regular leisure
activities to give your mind a workout.
Solomon PR, Adams F, Silver A, et al. Ginkgo for memory enhancement:
A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American
Medical Association 2002:288(7), pp. 835-840.
To read more about herbal supplements, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/herbs.html.