Ginkgo biloba and dementia

rusty_blackhaw(6a)November 29, 2008

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).

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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Ginkgo was never used for mental clarity before, that claim was made by a German who had a boat load to sell. Its astonishing how easy it is to get a bad idea to propagate given the human desire to defend what they know rather than accepting that they may be wrong.

The wise are not wise because they make no mistakes. They are wise because they correct their mistakes as soon as they recognize them.

-Orson Scott Card, Xenocide

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 12:57PM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

I see the medic people are still spammng for Their beloved American health care gods that are rated #37 right ahead of Cuba by the WHO. France has the #1 health care system in the world and they incorperate herbal and alternative health care. I have noticed that brendon and eric never seem to own up to any mistakes. Do you ever make any? You seem to hate herbs and herbalism so-o-o-o much, i can't help but wonder why you are here except to expound the wondrous value of american health care that is non existant.Does that mean you are spammers calling others spammers? lol Brendon, Do you still want to line up all herbalists and shoot them? Just wondering?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 11:35PM
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Hi, do you have anything to add about ginkgo and dementia (this is an herbalism forum)?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 12:09AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Why don't you stop lying about what I said? Are you aware of the fact that if you were to act like this in a real life situation, or spread this sort of rumor to people who have power over me and it were to have negative consequences you would go to jail? Are you a pathological liar or is it that you know that you haven't got a leg to stand on so you are using liable/slander to try and assassinate my character?

Post that I said that again with out linking to where I said it (which is impossible because I never said it) and I will report you to iVillage for harassment.

This has got to stop, I never said that, you are making things up and using them to damage my credibility.

(This has been e-mailed to Oaklief as well)

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 7:13PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Oaklief has disabled e-mail to her account, I could not e-mail her the message.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 7:15PM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

AH Bren but i read it. Also brought up the thread where you thought it'd be judicious to shoot alternative medicine practioners in the thread about GE above.
Shoot was a poor choice of words.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 4:44AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Fine, I will report you for harassment, I never said that, you cant show where I said it. You can point to where I mentioned the execution of altmed practitioners, but I never said it was right or just or should be done.

You are a bare faced liar, and I am tired of putting up with your blatant dishonesty.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 4:56AM
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brendan, here's some advice I gave lucy awhile back on dealing with this situation, and I think it still applies:

"In this case we have a poster who's announced that she's headed to another forum but has "unfinished business" here first, which apparently means trying to foment a flame war with the goal of getting someone else banned, or leaving behind a trail of wreckage as she departs. If we ignore the attempts at insults, either she'll calm down and discuss herbalism in a civil manner, or get frustrated at the lack of upheaval and leave.
Report bad behavior if you wish, but don't gratify this individual with the attention she's seeking."

There've been a number of posters over the more than a decade I've been posting on this forum, who cannot tolerate disagreements with their point of view. Rather than participate in a civil discussion, they hurl insults, attempt to get others banned and finally storm off to other boards where such behavior is encouraged. Persistent trolling is annoying, but if it's ignored and only subject matter related to herbalism responded to, eventually even trolls depart.

Regarding gingko, here's a recent update about ginkgo (published before the latest JAMA study came out). Note that it mentions that ginkgo has been "used medicinally for centuries"; another case where long historic use doesn't measure up to rigorous modern scrutiny.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 6:08PM
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