In a recent (2011) Dr. Oz show indicates that although the Ginkgo Biloba herb has shown to have some value in improving circulation and boosting mood, it has no real value in increasing memory. Other scientific studies have been inconclusive, so why then does this supplement keep rolling off the pharmacy and herb shop shelves so quickly? Can it help memory? Some researchers think it could simply be the “placebo effect” – where if you believe it works, therefore it does. Personally, I think if you really want to improve your memory you are much better off with some sort of structured memory training or method of loci than Gingko. With that said, read on.

Gingko Biloba is derived from extract of the gingko Biloba tree. The leaves of the tree contain two powerful antioxidants – nature’s warriors against free radicals, flavonoids and terpenoids. Antioxidants are used to neutralize the damage done by free radicals, body destroyers in our bodies that grow naturally as we age. The damage from free radicals in increased from environmental interference – like air pollution, smoke and ultraviolet lights. Free radicals have long been believed to contribute to health problems like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia.

Researchers at the Department of Public Health and Center for Healthy Aging Research at Oregon State University in Corvallis conducted a controlled study involving 118 people over the age of 85 to see if Ginkgo Biloba actually improves memory. Half of the subjects received the Ginkgo Biloba supplement while the other half received a placebo. The scientists did observe that larger percentage of the people who were given the actual supplement had a lower risk of developing mild memory problems than those who took the placebo.

They also found, however, that there are side effects. Researchers found that those taking the supplement had a higher incidence of mini strokes. Gingko Biloba is known to have blood-thinning properties. Seven of the 118 people in the study had strokes. Those seven people were taking the supplement. “Ginkgo has been reported to cause bleeding-related complications, but the strokes in this case were due to blood clots, not excessive bleeding, and were generally not severe,” said Hiroko Dodge, PhD, author of the study (published in the February 27, 2008 edition of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. and in ScienceDaily.

Dr. Oz says that people are concentrating on the wrong areas when it comes to this supplement. It does have some good qualities, and does work to increase the circulation of the blood. This circulation increase helps boost moods and libido, and has been beneficial for the treatment of macular degeneration. A surprising positive is that the herb has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of vertigo, an imbalance in the inner ear that scientists have not been able to understand the cause. This may just open up a whole new area for them to explore.

This is Ron White, two-time USA Memory Champion , memory training expert, and memory keynote speaker. We do know that getting the blood circulating better does improve memory, so in that respect Ginkgo Biloba could be a help in boosting memory, but make sure to consult a physician before taking any supplement because the side effects may far outweigh the positive effects. And once again, my final word is that while Ginkgo may not hurt to really improve your memory you should look into memory training.



University of Maryland Medical Center:

American Academy of Neurology (2008, March 1). Does Gingko Biloba Affect Memory? ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2010, from­ /releases/2008/02/080227164125.htm

Dr. Oz show –