The dietary supplement ginkgo biloba is marketed as a memory enhancer, but most research has shown little benefit. Although one of several studies suggests that the supplement may help preserve memory function in people age 85 or older, another large, well-designed study found that ginkgo biloba wasn't effective in reducing the development 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's almost no evidence that ginkgo has dementia-fighting abilities.

Because ginkgo biloba is considered to be a dietary supplement, it's not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. If you're thinking about trying this supplement to improve your memory, note 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.

Source: Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 18 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 18 Jul 2013