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atural Medicine Research

Ginkgo's immediate mental effects

© Ray Sahelian MD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Natural Medicine Research by Ray Sahelian MD. View all columns in series
Ray Sahelian Ginkgo biloba has been approved by German health authorities for the treatment of degenerative dementia, a term often used to indicate the gradual loss of mental abilities with age. This herb has also shown to provide slight benefit in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Tacrine and donepezil are currently the only drugs approved in the United States for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The present trial was conducted to determine whether ginkgo or tacrine had noticeable pharmacological effects on elderly subjects diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Data from 18 subjects at an average age of 67 years with light to moderate dementia were analyzed. Each subject was randomly administered a single oral dose of either 40 mg of tacrine or 240 mg of ginkgo in two separate sessions. Before drug administration and at 1- and 3-hour intervals after drug administration, brain wave activity was tested for a minimum of 10 minutes. The results indicated that ginkgo and, to a lesser degree, tacrine enhanced arousal type brain wave activity. More patients responded to ginkgo than to tacrine.

Comments: I'm often asked if ginkgo has any immediate noticeable effects. My personal and professional experience indicate that this to be true. However, the effects are often subtle. Within hours of taking ginkgo, there's often an enhancement in arousal with an improved ability to focus. Many people don't notice these subtle effects the very first day but do so when ginkgo is taken a few days in a row.

Itil TM, Eralp E, Ahmed I, Kunitz A, Itil KZ. The pharmacological effects of ginkgo biloba, a plant extract, on the brain of dementia patients in comparison with tacrine. Psychopharmacol Bull 1998;34(3):391-7

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About The Author
Ray Sahelian, M.D., is a popular and respected physician who has been seen on numerous television programs including NBC Today, Dateline NBC, and CNN, and quoted by countless major magazines such as Newsweek He is the bestselling author of Mind Boosters, Natural Sex Boosters, and ...more
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