Ginkgo fails


USA Today reports that a research project studying the effectiveness (or not) of Ginkgo Biloba – a ‘traditional remedy’ thought to aid memory has shown that it has made absolutely no difference in affecting the cognitive decline or otherwise in older people.

The plus side for those reliant on the herb is that at the very least, it was found to cause no harmful effects which I suppose is a definite positive for those who use it regularly (and I’ve come across a few on my travels over the years!).

It’s interesting that the study was funded by the ‘National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’ oops!

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Although unsurprisingly

Douglas MacKay, vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement industry trade group, disputes the study’s findings.

“There is a large body of previously published evidence, as well as ongoing trials, which suggest that ginkgo biloba is effective for helping to improve cognitive impairment in older adults,” he says.

Although it’s a case of ‘he would say that, wouldn’t he?’ I fear.

As the article from USA Today goes on to say

U.S. sales for ginkgo biloba were $99 million in 2008, down 8% from 2007 but still placing it the 8th most popular herb and botanical that the Nutrition Business Journal tracks.

And that’s an awful lot of money.

It’s not to say I’d be wishing it to fail. Believe me, I would love there to be something that would stem cognitive decline in any way, but I also think that selling false hopes is a cruel business and picks on our fears for profit.

3 thoughts on “Ginkgo fails

  1. I wish they would put that kind of money into proper research of dementia, instead of raising false hope. Unfortunately dementia is a particular targer for this kind of thing because a lot of the people who buy the supplements don’t have the disease yet and probably won’t, and with those who do they can always say that they were too far gone to help.
    I think it is going to be a while before they find a cure for dementia; it’s a complex condition and involves several factors. I think it’s either going to take a cocktail of drugs, or one drug that alleviates significantly one factor. But I think we’re in for the long haul and I always take these things now with a pinch of salt.

  2. Well, at least the results were published, and not hidden, like the failed studies for pharmaceuticals.

    It’s too bad that natural supplements don’t get the rigorous scientific testing that regular drugs get. There just might be something out there that actually does work, that we’re all just to skeptical of.

    Btw, hi and happy new year!

  3. I would like anything to work, whether natural or not, to be honest, and if natural all the better, but I do think there’s a lot of money involved in the supplement business and a lot of it is about psychology rather than physiology.

    And happy new year too! Thanks for dropping by, antiSWer!

    And Julie, thanks for the comment, as always!

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