Researchers at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute found significant improvement in verbal recall among a group of people with age-associated memory impairment who took the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba for six months when compared with a group that received a placebo.
The six-month UCLA study examined the impact of ginkgo biloba, compared to a placebo, in 10 volunteers, aged 45 to 75, who did not have dementia but complained of mild age-related memory loss. Four patients received 120 mg of ginkgo biloba twice daily, and six received a placebo or inactive substance such as a sugar pill.
Researchers used cognitive tests to measure verbal recall and positron-emission tomography (PET) to measure brain metabolism before and after the treatment regimen. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to determine regions of interest to be examined by PET.
The UCLA study found that for patients taking gingko biloba, improved recall correlated with better brain function in key brain memory centers. Researchers noted that, although volunteers taking gingko biloba experienced better verbal recall, actual changes in brain metabolism, measured by PET, did not differ significantly between the study’s two volunteer groups.
Gingko biloba is a Chinese herb often used as a dietary supplement to treat memory loss. The herb is packed with powerful antioxidants including gingko flavone, a family of natural antioxidants that have been shown to strengthen cardiovascular system, boosts cerebral blood flow and therefore include blood supply to brain cells.
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Reference: Rachael Champeau “UCLA Researchers Find Gingko Biloba May Help Improve Memory.” UCLA Newsroom, November 10, 2003. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/UCLA-Researchers-Find-Gingko-Biloba-4691
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