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