Ginkgo biloba Extract: Efficacy in Early Stage Alzheimer's Disease

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Ginkgo biloba Extract: Efficacy in Early Stage Alzheimer's Disease

Reference: Hofferberth B: The efficacy of EGb 761 in patients with senile dementia of the Alzheimer type, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on different levels of investigation. Human Psychopharmacol 9: 215-22, 1994.

Summary: In a randomized, double-blind study, 40 patients with a diagnosis of senile dementia of the Alzheimer type received either 80 mg Ginkgo biloba Extract (EGb 761) or placebo three times daily for three months.

Patients were assessed with a test battery that included the SKT (test of cognitive function, memory and attention), the Sandoz Clinical Assessment Geriatric Scale, choice reaction time, saccadic eye movements and EEG. These tests were performed at baseline and at 1, 2 and 3 months. Memory and attention, as measured by the SKT, improved significantly in the EGb 761 group after one month. Improvement was also noted during this time in psychopathology, psychomotor performance, functional dynamics and neruo-physiology. Improvement continued to be noted in the EGb 761 group over the three month course of the study. EGb 761 was well tolerated and no side effects were recorded during the trial.

Comments/Opinions: This is the study we've been waiting for with Ginkgo biloba Extract (GBE). Research and clinical reports over the past two decades have pointed to the potential of GBE as both a preventive measure and early therapeutic intervention for Alzheimer's disease. This study takes the first step toward establishing GBE as a strong therapeutic choice in the early stages of the condition as a tool to slow its progression and improve quality of life. While long-term studies with Alzheimer's patients need to be completed, these results can be added to the host of other conditions unique to the geriatric population that can either be prevented or treated with GBE (e.g., resistant depression, macular degeneration, intermittent claudication).

It is important to point out that the effective daily dose in this study was 80 mg tid. This is significantly higher than the 120 mg daily dose most of us recommend for GBE. As mentioned in previous reviews, this dose may cause transient headaches or dizziness initially in some elderly patients. If this occurs, starting at the lower dose of 120 mg daily and then increasing to the 240 mg level over a period of six to eight weeks will usually be effective.

Accumulating evidence suggests that free radical oxidation and platelet-activating factor (PAF) play important roles in the cognitive decline noticed in dementia. GBE's antioxidant, PAF-inhibiting, and neuronal-protective properties make it one of our most useful clinical tools for flowing cognitive decline in the elderly. Based on the current evidence, GBE may be one of the few "smart drugs" that actually lives up to its billing.

Natural Product Research Consultants, Inc.

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By D. Brown

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