Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Gingko biloba: worthless

with 5 comments

Interesting post by Steven Novella at Science-Based Medicine:

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is generally a waste of taxpayer money, but they have sponsored several well-designed large trials of popular herbal supplements. And one by one these studies have shown these popular products, such as echinacea for the common cold, to be ineffective.

To add to the list, published in JAMA this week are the results of the largest and longest trial to date of Gingko biloba for the improvement of cognitive function and to treat, prevent, or reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. The results of the study are completely negative.

The study was very rigorous – a consensus trial designed to address all the criticisms of prior smaller studies. It was a direct comparison of Gingko biloba at 120mg twice a day, double blind, randomized, multi-center trial involving 3019 subjects aged 72-96 for a median of 6.1 years. Subjects were followed with standardized tests of cognitive function.

The results are easy to report – every measure showed no difference between G biloba and placebo. There was no difference in cognitive function, risk of developing dementia, rate of progression of dementia or normal cognitive decline with aging. Usually such studies involve some random noise in the results, especially when several outcomes are measured. But with such a large study, random fluctuations should average out, and that is exactly what happened…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2009 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

5 Responses

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  1. Not a bit surprised.


    30 December 2009 at 3:36 pm

  2. You have surely noticed how over the last decade just about every supplement has turned out to be useless. Vitamins C & E ruled in the ’70’s and ’80’s, then came Glucosamine, Beta-Carotene, etc., etc. These days it’s Omega-3, Krill Oil, Vitamin D, and pre and pro-biotics. All bull IMHO. I think that Michael Polan said it best: “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much”. And stop slathering on the sunscreens and get some sunshine I would add (but just a little).


    31 December 2009 at 5:21 am

  3. Yep. However, I still take my salmon-oil capsules (krill oil is just another omega-3 supplement) and I still trust the findings that show Vitamin D is essential for any number of reasons beyond strong bones and that the average adult is deficient in Vitamin D—and that people who live at high altitudes simply can’t get enough D from sunshine from late fall through early spring. YMMV.


    31 December 2009 at 10:29 am

  4. Yes, I was going to say I thought there was some really good evidence that D was a useful supplement.


    31 December 2009 at 10:30 am

  5. I would say that it’s an essential supplement, save for those who actually work outside daily. And even those, if they live in high latitudes, probably should take some from late fall through early spring. I take 2000 IU/day.


    31 December 2009 at 10:36 am

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