Ginkgo biloba does not help brain function in MSers

Epub: Lovera et al. Ginkgo biloba does not improve cognitive function in MS: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Neurology. 2012 Sep 5.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether Ginkgo biloba extract (ginkgo) improves cognitive function in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS).

METHODS: MSers from the Seattle and Portland VA clinics and adjacent communities who scored 1 SD or more below the mean on one of 4 neuropsychological tests (Stroop Test, California Verbal Learning Test II [CVLT-II], Controlled Oral Word Association Test [COWAT], and Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task [PASAT]) were randomly assigned to receive either one 120-mg tablet of ginkgo (EGb-761; Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co, Germany) or one placebo tablet twice a day for 12 weeks. As the primary outcome, they compared the performance of the 2 groups on the 4 tests at exit after adjusting for baseline performance.

RESULTS: 59 subjects received placebo and 61 received ginkgo; 1 participant receiving placebo and 3 receiving ginkgo were lost to follow-up. Two serious adverse events (AEs) (myocardial infarction and severe depression) believed to be unrelated to the treatment occurred in the ginkgo group; otherwise, there were no significant differences in AEs. The differences (ginkgo – placebo) at exit in the z scores for the cognitive tests were as follows: PASAT -0.2 (95% confidence interval [CI] -0.5 to 0.1); Stroop Test -0.5 (95% CI -0.9 to -0.1); COWAT 0.0 (95% CI -0.2 to 0.3); and CVLT-II 0.0 (95% CI -0.3 to 0.3); none was statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: Treatment with ginkgo 120 mg twice a day did not improve cognitive performance in MSers.

Classification of evidence: This study provides Class I evidence that treatment with ginkgo 120 mg twice a day for 12 weeks does not improve cognitive performance in MSers.

“This is a well done study, i.e. double-blind, placebo-controlled, which is why it provides class 1 evidence.”

“It is clear that ginkgo does not help MSers with cognitive impairment. Therefore if you are taking ginkgo for cognition problems you should seriously consider stopping; it will save you money.”

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