Information about the Dietary Supplement Ginkgo Biloba and Memory Loss

This dietary supplement is marketed as a memory enhancer, but most research has shown little benefit. Although one study reported in Neurology suggests that the supplement may help preserve memory function in people age 85 or older, another large, well-designed study, the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) Study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that ginkgo biloba was not effective in reducing the development of new cases of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers hypothesize that ginkgo biloba has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and suggest that this is how it might prevent dementia. While more study is needed before any final recommendation can be made, there is almost no evidence that ginkgo has dementia-fighting abilities.

Because ginkgo biloba is considered a dietary supplement, it is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). People who are considering using it to improve memory should be aware that taking ginkgo biloba with aspirin or other medications or supplements that have a blood-thinning effect may lead to an increased risk of bleeding.

Publication Review By: Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.

Published: 09 Mar 2011

Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015