Bäurle P, Suter A, Wormstall H. Safety and effectiveness of a traditional ginkgo fresh plant extract—Results from a clinical trial. Forsch Komplementmed. 2009;16: 156-161.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is used traditionally as
a tea, alcoholic tincture, or extract; however, it has been most often studied
as the standardized ginkgo special extract EGb 761® (Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH;
= 59) from 11 general practices in
The majority of patients were women (mean age 72 years). All but 6 patients had good treatment compliance. At the end of the 6-week treatment period, the average DemTect score did not change from baseline (15.9 at start vs. 16.0 at end). The mean physical component of the quality-of-life scale also did not change from baseline (44.5 at start vs. 45.3 at end). The mean mental component of the quality-of-life scale improved significantly by 3 points (P = 0.013). Forgetfulness, impaired concentration, and impaired memory subjectively improved in 41%, 43%, and 35% of the subjects, respectively. The improvement in symptoms was rated as “good” or “rather good” by 61% of the patients and 69% of physicians. The treatment was rated as having no effect by 29% of patients and 24% of physicians.
None of the adverse events (AEs) were rated as definitively related to treatment. One case of gastrointestinal disturbance and 18 AEs (types were not reported) were rated as possibly related to ginkgo. All AEs were mild to moderate and transient. Vital signs and laboratory measurements were not adversely affected by treatment. The majority of patients and physicians considered the treatment to be well tolerated.
This study used a newly developed plant extract. The authors conclude that the formulation is safe and well tolerated in a population that was taking concomitant medications and suffering from concurrent diseases. Based on the effectiveness, the authors state that the treatment is an “interesting option” for age-related memory disorders. They acknowledge that the observed effects could be due to placebo or regression of the mean. This study should be repeated as a randomized controlled trial before efficacy can be concluded.
—Heather S. Oliff, PhD