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Is ginkgo good for improving your memory?

Yes, say experts. If you take the herbal supplement, ginkgo biloba, it could delay the onset of memory loss in aging adults, according to a recent study.

Ginkgo biloba is widely marketed as an inexpensive memory booster and to help improve mental functions in those who suffer from dementia.

The three-year study was carried out at Oregon Health Science University’s NIA-Layton Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders. This is the first randomized, controlled trial of dementia prevention in people aged 85 and older.

The research involved 118 people aged 85 and above with no memory problems, Fifty per cent of them took ginkgo biloba extract three times a day and the other half took a placebo.

It was found that 21 people developed mild memory problems, or questionable dementia. Among this group, 14 took the placebo and took the ginkgo extract. The investigators observed that the difference between those who took the supplement and those who didn’t was not significant.

What they did find, however, was that those who followed direction in consuming the gingko pills had a 68 per cent lower risk of developing mild memory problems than those who were in the placebo group.

“One of the most pressing public health problems facing our society is the rapidly growing number of people who, due to their age alone, are at high risk of developing dementia. The potential to delay or prevent this is of great importance,” study chief Dr. Hiroko H. Dodge, from the Oregon State University in Corvallis, said in a statement.

A slightly disturbing finding in this research was that those who took ginkgo had more strokes than the placebo group. Dodge said, “Ginkgo has been reported to cause bleeding-related complications, but the strokes in this case were due to blood clots, not excessive bleeding, and were generally not severe.”

He also recognized that further test results are needed to be clarified in a bigger study to determine if gingko biloba has true benefits and risks as found in this small research group.

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