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Support Healthy Brain Aging with Ginkgo Biloba

Updated 21 December 2017
Lincoln Cannon

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba, a tree native to China, is among the most-studied natural nootropics. Some tout its efficacy to improve memory, cognition, sleep quality, subjective well-being, calmness, cerebral blood flow, processing accuracy, processing speed, and reaction time. Studies, on the whole, seem to indicate that these effects are either subtle or unreliable. However, there's one nootropic effect that appears to be particularly notable: Ginkgo may support healthy brain aging.

Multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in humans have explored the effects of Ginkgo in relation to healthy brain aging:

As you can see from the findings of these studies, interpretations of their results are not all consistent with the conclusion that Ginkgo may support healthy brain aging. Seven of the studies found support, while two of the studies did not. I'll refer to these latter two studies as the "Lancet and JAMA studies".

For these and related studies, there are multiple recent meta-analyses, which may provide broader insight into expert interpretations of their results:

As among the studies themselves, the meta-analyses are not all consistent with the conclusion that Ginkgo may support healthy brain aging. Five of the meta-analyses found support, but one did not. The meta-analyses that found support each included four or more (and as many as 21) studies across thousands of subjects. The one meta-analysis that did not find support included only two large studies, also across thousands of subjects. Those two studies were the Lancet and JAMA studies listed above.

Three studies challenge interpretations of results from the Lancet and JAMA studies:

In summary, these three studies suggest that the Lancet and JAMA studies may not provide reliable guidance on the efficacy of Ginkgo to support healthy brain aging. All of the studies suggest that the Lancet and JAMA studies may have been too short. And one of the studies suggests that a methodological change to the Lancet study may have resulted in the opposite interpretation of its data.

In addition to challenging the Lancet and JAMA studies, the 2013 cohort study may support the long-term efficacy of Ginkgo in two ways. First, it was a 20-year study, which makes it by far the longest study of Ginkgo that I know of. And it found that "cognitive decline in a non-demented elderly population was lower in subjects who reported using Ginkgo than in those who did not". Second, it compared Ginkgo to a drug that is also among the most-studied nootropics for supporting healthy brain aging. And the study found that the drug "was associated with more rapid decline in cognitive function" than Ginkgo.

Judging from these studies, overall, I'm led to a couple provisional conclusions. First, because current studies have prompted interpretive disagreements, Ginkgo warrants yet more studies. Second, because Ginkgo supplementation is generally safe and inexpensive, and because the results of current studies are consistent with the possibility that it may be more effective than alternatives in support of healthy brain aging, Ginkgo is probably worth including in your nootropic stack.

To improve the nootropic effect of Ginkgo, consider combining it with Phosphatidylserine. Ginkgo and Phosphatidylserine supplementation in combination may be more effective than either alone, according to this study:

Thrivous Alpha

Based in part on the studies cited above, Thrivous developed Alpha Neuroprotector. Each serving provides a clinical dose of Ginkgo Biloba, as well as a clinical dose of Phosphatidylserine. Alpha is available to purchase online in the Thrivous store.

Buy Alpha Neuroprotector

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