New study says ginkgo biloba does not enhance memory or thinking

Those who add a ginkgo biloba supplement to their daily routine might not be getting what they're hoping for.

Regular consumption of the extract from the ancient ginkgo biloba tree has been said to enhance mood, memory, cognitive functions and overall well-being. In fact, the University of Maryland points out that some studies show that a dietary supplement made from the plants originally cultivated in Japan and China could have benefits for individuals who buy Paxil or buy Effexor from a Canadian internet pharmacy.

However, if a new study appearing in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental proves correct, those who add a ginkgo biloba supplement to their daily routine might not be getting what they're hoping for.

"Ginkgo biloba has been widely used for a number of years to reduce the mental decline associated with aging," said study leader Keith Laws, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. "But more recently, it has been marketed as a memory enhancing supplement for healthy individuals - and it is crucial to establish the validity for such claims."

Having tested the cognitive functions of more than 1,000 people belonging to every age group in 13 trials, the Hertfordshire scientists say ginkgo biloba had no notable effect on their subjects' mental states whatsoever. It didn't matter how much ginkgo biloba extract they consumed or how long they took it for.

More scientists second-guess effectiveness of ginkgo biloba

The Hertfordshire study isn't the only research debunking the notion that ginkgo biloba enhances memory. Earlier this month, a study appearing in The Lancet shows that ginkgo biloba had no significant impact on the mental health of a survey group of almost 3,000 seniors who were having memory troubles - the first sign of Alzheimer's onset.

"We don't have any proof of efficacy, but there are no dangers in taking ginkgo except that it is not recommended for people taking warfarin or other blood thinners," professor of medicine Bruno Vellas told the New York Times. 

Over the course of five years, about half the subjects were given either ginkgo biloba or a placebo. At the study's conclusion, 61 of those who took the herbal extract had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, as opposed to 73 in the placebo group. Gingko biloba didn't appear to have an impact on participants' physical health, either, as instances of stroke, heart attack, stomach problems and other illnesses were more or less equal in both groups.