11 September 2012
Popular Chinese herb doesn’t stop Alzheimer’s
Scientists have found that a Chinese herb, previously claiming to improve memory and mental sharpness does not prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers tested the effect of Ginkgo biloba on more than 2,800 volunteers aged 70 and over, who took the supplement for 5 years. Half of the participants were given a placebo while the other half took the supplement twice a day.
The results showed little difference in the rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s in the 2 groups. 61 people who took the supplement went on to develop the disease and 73 people from the placebo also developed the condition.
Jess Smith from the Alzheimer’s Society said, “It is understandable that people would want to hear that an over-the-counter herbal remedy could be the answer to preventing Alzheimer’s. For a while it was hoped that Ginkgo biloba could be the wonder drug. However, in recent years evidence – including a previous study by Alzheimer’s Society – has repeatedly shown that it does not have any benefits in preventing the disease or slowing down symptoms. One in three people over 65 will develop dementia. The best way for people to reduce their risk is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, not smoke and keep their cholesterol levels in check.”
Professor Bruno Vellas, lead author of the study, said, “While our trial appears to have shown that regular use of ginkgo biloba does not protect elderly patients from progression to Alzheimer’s disease, more studies are needed on long-term exposure. The fact that prevalence of this debilitating disorder is expected to quadruple by 2050 suggests that research into preventative therapies for this disease needs to receive urgent attention.”