Gingko Research Results Confusing. Why?

Why is the research on Gingko and its effectiveness on cognition confusing? You will find studies that support Gingko’s benefits for brain health and studies that report there was no benefit. Why are there such differing research conclusions? Do Alzheimer’s drugs work better? I answer those questions in the second part of this article.

ginkgo one of the herbs to help brain function.
Research of brain herbs is difficult.

The first question to ask is Do drugs for Alzheimer’s work?

I give you the answer to this question from some expert articles below that answer that question and shed light on Alzheimer’s.

“Added to these problems is that dementia has become a graveyard for a large number of promising drugs. A recent study looked at how 244 compounds in 413 clinical trials fared for Alzheimer’s disease between 2002 and 2012. The researchers findings paint a gloomy picture.

Of those 244 compounds, only one was approved. The researchers report that this gives Alzheimer’s disease drug candidates one of the highest failure rates of any disease area, “ 99.6%, compared with 81% for cancer.”

“Presently, the UK has four licensed treatments that can help some people with their dementia symptoms, but the effects are temporary and don’t work for everyone. “

“Finding drugs to treat dementia is especially difficult because the brain is relatively inaccessible and harder to test and deliver compounds to, explains Simon Lovestone, a professor of translational neuroscience at the University of Oxford, UK. ‘Less is known about the biology of the condition than, say, cancer.” all three quotes are taken from the Scientific American in their article. It is a must-read article on the subject.


Disappointment after potential Alzheimers drug fails Roche trial | Alzheimer’s | The Guardian


Failure Upon Failure For Alzheimer’s Drugs | Inside Science


When commercial drugs fail with Alzheimer’s patients, why would doctors demand brain-positive herbs to work unconditionally for patients? Why are they not willing to let patients even try these supplements?


Why Gingko and brain herb research is so inconsistent and contradictory? 

Herb research is performed with the same testing criteria as drugs. Herbs have hundreds of properties that work on many different areas of the body at one time. Herbs feed and support organs, systems, and tissues. This takes time. You can not track all the effects that herbs have by the criteria you track drugs. That does not work. It can take days or months for results. Most studies are a set amount of time such as 6 weeks. Drugs and herbs to not work in the same way in the body so cannot be compared realistically. Read the articles on the links below to understand this more in detail.

Read the article on why herbal research is flawed here first.


What stage and what kind of dementia?

The success or failure of brain-positive herbs like Gingko depends on several factors: what stage of dementia, what kind of dementia or Alzheimer’s they have, the herb dose given to the patients, the length of the study, and the quality of the supplement. There is so much unknown about how the brain works and what causes the various kinds of dementia.

What brain herb or combination of brain herbs was used?

Not all brain herbs work the same on each person. If after 4 weeks, there is no improvement with Gingko or another of the brain herbs, either increase the dosage or try a different combination of brain herbs.

Differences in the quality of the tested Gingko herb product.

Often the product is given to the researchers for free by the company that manufactures the supplement.  I have used Gingko for years and the quality of the supplement does matter significantly. It also depends if the Gingko product is an extract or a standardized dose. Where the supplement was grown and manufactured can be an issue.

What is the quality of the Gingko product?

There are certain properties inherent to the brain-stimulating activity in the Gingko leaves. If the bulk product is not of good quality, you will get poor results.

There is a difference in products and their quality with all herbs. Herbs that help the brain and memory function are not exceptions to this rule.

Were the ginkgo and brain health research study performed with integrity? Was it weighted toward a negative finding?

It is also a fact that if you want to discredit herbal medicines, all you have to do is negatively weigh the research factors such as enrolling patients in Stage 4 dementia where nothing much can be done at that point to improve memory performance. You can give a dose that is too low, resulting in a negative outcome.  If the study is a short-term study, it may not be long enough to show results at all. Once the brain is destroyed in Stage 4, you will not see results with either standard medicine or holistic therapy.

Who funded the ginkgo and brain health research study?

Herbal Research studies are often funded by powers who purposely want to show a negative outcome. If you are a drug manufacturer, you want to show that the drug works for the disease or condition. You also want to discredit any competition.

Was there a conflict of interest between the research company and those funding it?

If you manufacture a drug that supposedly helps dementia, you don’t want doctors to give patients an herb that is one-tenth the cost of the drug. Drug companies can not make money on herbs. They make money on drug prescriptions. It is their goal to destroy any competition in making that money.

Lung disease research was funded by cigarette companies. Can you say conflict of interest?

Look back on the research fraud involving smoking cigarettes and lung disease.  Research studies were designed to prove that smoking did not cause lung disease. Prominent stars and even doctors promoted cigarettes as being sexy and romantic. By the way, the famous Marlboro man who was the face of that cigarette brand died of lung cancer. Research fraud has been around forever. Much of it is not caught.

From Baltimore to Bell Labs: reflections on two decades of debate about scientific misconduct – PubMed (

Duke Pays Whistleblower Millions In Research Fraud Case: NPR

Back some 40 years ago, I used Gingko alone to help a woman I was taking care of with dementia. At the time I was acting as her power of attorney. She was driving the nurses crazy asking the same questions over and over. I asked her doctor if he would give the nurse permission to provide her with the supplement. He was very skeptical but he approved it. I bought a cheaper brand first as they were on a very limited income. There were no changes over 4 weeks.

The brand does make a difference in results!

Then I bought an expensive brand produced by a German company. After about another three weeks on the new supplement, she improved significantly. It did not restore her memory completely by any means but improved her symptoms.

When I used to provide health counseling for clients many years ago, I have seen this herb and other memory-positive herbs improve dementia. I have observed it slow the decline. Do they always work? No, but neither do the drugs for Alzheimer’s.

Last comment on this very important subject

Dementia is a decline in memory and mental function which is different for each patient. Memory-positive herbs do not always work but they are worth a trial of several months to test them. When drugs for Alzheimer’s are failing, aren’t the herbs worth trying at least? What have you got to lose?

All for now, Cathryn Freer, the Herbladyisin