Ginkgo biloba and dementia
A recently published study found no evidence that Ginkgo taken by elderly people prevented them from getting Alzheimer's disease.
The supplement industry has published this response, which essentially does three things: 1) avoids the subject of whether people should keep taking a supplement for a purpose for which it's ineffective, 2) does a classic tu quoque maneuver in criticizing "mainstream" medicine for not having a drug that prevents dementia, and 3) makes irresponsible and inaccurate claims for gingko, as follows:
"The study does not in any way undermine what has already been observed with regard to the usefulness of ginkgo extract, and EGb 761 in particular, in providing symptomatic relief in persons who already suffer from dementia or AlzheimerÂs disease," said American Herbal Products Association President Michael McGuffin. "In fact, Ginkgo extract has been shown to work as well as the available approved drugs to slow the progression of AlzheimerÂs disease."
Sounds great - but it's not true. Based on considerable numbers of studies performed to date, ginkgo is ineffective in treating dementia. Here's what the highly respected Cochrane group has to say:
"There is no convincing evidence that Ginkgo biloba is efficacious for dementia and cognitive impairment.
Ginkgo biloba appears to be safe in use with no excess adverse effects compared with placebo. Many of the early trials used unsatisfactory methods, were small, and publication bias cannot be excluded. Overall, evidence that Ginkgo has predictable and clinically significant benefit for people with dementia or cognitive impairment is inconsistent and unconvincing. Two of the best most recent trials, which are also among the largest trials, found no difference between placebo and Ginkgo."
You can do a search of the Pub Med database and find even more up-to-date info that fails to support a role for ginkgo in dementia.
Moral of the story: don't depend on industry press releases and supplement dealers' testimonials for accurate information - do your own research and use trustworthy sources like the Cochrane reviews (for both herbal and pharmaceutical drugs).