- The most convincing study has found no benefit of gingko biloba on cognition in older adults.
- Previous evidence that gingko biloba can improve memory has been decidedly mixed.
- The most promising results have occurred with multiple sclerosis patients; there is also some reason to think those with cardiovascular problems may benefit.
- Gingko biloba is not without side-effects.
- The quality of the supplements is also probably a factor in determining whether it will be of value.
Most studies supporting the use of gingko have been looking at its use in people suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis etc. That is, not in healthy seniors. There is some evidence that gingko may be helpful with cardiovascular problems and, given recent research that suggests "what's good for the heart is good for the brain", perhaps this is the source of any effects gingko may have on memory and cognitive function.
Gingko can have serious side-effects - those taking other medications, or about to undergo surgery, are advised to tell their doctor if they are taking gingko. There is also some evidence that it may be a danger to unborn children. Nor is it yet clear what the correct dose might be (one study found a beneficial effect at a low dose, but no effect when a higher dose was used!) The quality of the various gingko preparations for sale is also quite variable.
Given these caveats however, some individuals may find gingko helpful - chiefly, it would appear, in terms of a slightly increased alertness. I would speculate that those who do find it helpful are those people whose memory problems are caused by certain cardiovascular risk factors, such as high cholesterol.