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GIngko Isn't Smart PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   

gingkoMillions of people take Gingko biloba because they think it keeps them smart. A recent study suggests they might be smarter to save their money ($107 million was spent on gingko in 2007 in the US alone).

Gingko has been touted for everything from altitude sickness to tinnitus, but the main claims have been for dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and improving memory. The evidence wasn't clear, so the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) funded a large trial to find out whether gingko could really delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's. They studied 3000 people over the age of 75 who were either normal or had mild cognitive impairment. It was a well-designed double blind placebo controlled trial lasting over 6 years. They found no difference in the incidence of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Actually there were a few more cases of dementia and more hemorrhagic strokes in the gingko group than in the placebo group, but the difference wasn't statistically significant.

Even before this trial, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (considered the "Bible" for herbal medicines and diet supplements) listed gingko only as "possibly" effective and "possibly" safe - it didn't even merit their "probably" safe or effective categories. They consider it "probably unsafe" in pregnancy.

There are other concerns. Gingko interacts with all sorts of other medications including Motrin. It can cause bleeding and should be discontinued 2 weeks before surgery. And there's no guarantee that you are getting what the label says. When ConsumerLab.com recently tested 7 gingko products, five failed the tests: two contained adulterated material, two contained less gingko than claimed on the label, and one was contaminated with lead.

This study didn't rule out the possibility that gingko might be found useful in other scenarios, but it falls into a pattern. The NCCAM has been spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to test commonly used diet supplements to find out what really works. They haven't found anything that works. They've found a lot of things that don't work. That would be useful if people would accept the results and stop using those supplements. Instead, they keep believing in the supplements and calling for more studies: let's try it on younger subjects, let's try a different dose, let's try it for another disease...  You could keep dreaming up more studies forever.

To paraphrase the editorial that accompanied the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association: if you don't have clear evidence that it helps, and if you don't have clear evidence that it's harmless, it's probably not smart to take it.

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Again!
written by Ian Mason, December 09, 2008
This kind of snake-oil only has to get one headline to become a "truth" for a decade or more. The FACT that it doesn't work will be hidden away at the bottom of page 94. Sensationalism and hidden advertising is more profitable for the media than "boring" science.
Anyway, even if the damn stuff did work and created new capillaries, the effect would be cancelled out by the shark cartilage taken to prevent the growth of tumours, which is supposed to work by preventingthe formation of such blood vessels. While it is highly probable that there are many naturally occuring chemicals as yet undiscovered that will prove to be of benefit to human health, the present state of affairs is that the best anyone can reasonably hope for from the present range of pills and potions is that they have no harmful effect.
Quack potions are a canard! A healthly lifestyle is much more effective, so put down that bacon and egg sandwich and the mornings 5th cup of coffee and use your smart trainers for exercising in.
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written by Adavidson, December 09, 2008
Never actually heard of gingko- being Norwegian and everything. Its no woo that vegetables, plants and food contain certain types of vitamines/minerals that do indeed -help- the body produce amongst other things new brain cells during REM sleep. Vit A helps hormonproduction, and Vit C the uptake of iron through endocrine glands -hypothalamus and pituitary. This can along with proper exercice improve memory. Its the basic idea of diet and excercice. This Gingko is nothing more than a placebo. Placebo is harmless enough in small matters like curing stomach or head ache, but alzheimers?? Seriously, when its proven again and again that it doesnt work, is a wast of time and money its time to put it away and get real.
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written by BillyJoe, December 09, 2008
Seriously, when its proven again and again that it doesnt work, is a wast of time and money its time to put it away and get real.

For a believer, no amount of evidence will be enough. In fact, for some, it's a badge of honour to continue believing in the face of mounting evidence against their pet belief.
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Like this'll be the end of it...
written by JDK, December 10, 2008
Australia's "A Current Affair" (the nation's leading infotainment program) looked at a study conducted by "Choice" (an Australian consumer magazine) into the effectiveness of glucosamine for arthritis relief.

"Choice" concluded that it was no more effective than aspirin (and an interviewed GP agreed), though the clever journos at "ACA" asked a little old lady in the street and the head of Australia's biggest gluocsamine pill maker what they thought: they dismissed the "Choice" straight-off-the-bat and that anecdotal evidence showed it could provide relief.

This will be no different, and people will continue to waste their money on this useless and potentially dangerous rubbish.
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written by cwniles, December 10, 2008
I would have to assume that the conclusions drawn, and I quote, "In this study, G biloba at 120 mg twice a day was not effective in reducing either the overall incidence rate of dementia or AD incidence in elderly individuals with normal cognition or those with MCI." were not what the NCCAM were hoping for.

By the way, the study is easily accessibly by googling jama gingko

Also, it's quite ironic that people take this to make them smarter.....
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written by Cuddy Joe, December 10, 2008
cwniles: "Also, it's quite ironic that people take this to make them smarter....."

lol, just so. It does indicate *some* level of insight, however, though they've botched the choice of remedy.
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written by AMFCook, December 10, 2008
When it comes to garbage like Ginko, I tend to turn a deaf ear to the incredulous claims by the manufacturer.
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written by JeffWagg, December 10, 2008
One of Ginkgo biloba's early spokespersons was Larry King. It sure didn't help him remember that he agreed to facilitate Sylvia Browne taking the challenge.
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Worse Idea Than I thought
written by StarTrekLivz, December 10, 2008
Upon an endorsement from an RN of my acquaintance, I tried gingko; all I got was headaches (which apparently is a possible side effect) so quickly discontinued it. It's distressing to find out that not only is gingko in & of itself futile as a treatment, one may not be getting what one is purchasing, or it may be contaminated (lead is nothing to fool with). It's a shame FDA doesn't regulate the herbals like it does the pharmaceuticals, but then there is so much .... stuff .... on the market, when would they have time to check legitimate offerings?
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written by BillyJoe, December 10, 2008
JDK,

Australia's "A Current Affair"

You watch that?

I gave up watching currect affairs programs on commercial stations after I'd viewed several items on topics that I knew something about and found that what they told their audience was complete rubbish. Sixty Minutes is even worse. I'm fond of saying "You know less after watching Sixty Miutes than you did before watching it. And it's true. Even "The 7:30 Report" on the ABC botches it sometimes (the most recent being how treatments for osteoporosis cause your jaw bone to melt away - fortunately "Media Watch" put us straight on this one the very next monday)

BTW, the original BS about Glucosamine was obtained by data mining an original study which showed no effect overall, but showed some effect with small subgroups of patients which was then generalised into "IT WORKS!"

I despair sometimes.
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Selective science.
written by Ian Mason, December 10, 2008
Be skeptical also of sensational science. Well said, BillyJoe.
Remember the hyperbole on the subject of endorphins? A few saliva samples from the first 50 runners over the finish line in 3 of the world's toughest marathons and suddenly - every jogger is a junkie!
Moderation and calmness, friends. A rule of thumb: Whenever you come in contact with research data, turn it round. Example: recent research in Australia claimed that depression in men was the result of low testosterone levels, whereas low sex drive has been a seen as a symptom of depression for years.
Which is the cart, which is the horse and what comes first?
Don't relax those skeptical faculties!
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But what about????
written by Willy K, December 10, 2008
Doesn't Gingko help the Geico Ghecko's garrulous guarantees? smilies/wink.gif
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written by BillyJoe, December 10, 2008
I think someone has a little Willy and he finds it funny smilies/grin.gif

(It's alright, Willy, I'm having a little joke at your expense. Feel free to repay the favour any time smilies/smiley.gif)

BJ
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Be skeptical about nutrition, too
written by Carl, December 11, 2008
A healthly lifestyle is much more effective, so put down that bacon and egg sandwich and the mornings 5th cup of coffee and use your smart trainers for exercising in.

Ian, be careful: there is actually good evidence that coffee has health benefits, notably preventing Alzheimer's.
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written by cwniles, December 11, 2008
While there is data supporting the beneficial aspects of coffee, just like red wine, moderation is the key. Sure a glass of red wine in the evening reportedly has some benefits, a jug a red wine every night is gonna rot your liver.

In the same respect, Ian's comment was "so put down that bacon and egg sandwich and the mornings 5th cup of coffee" and I don't think there is any research that suggests that 5 cups of coffee in the morning is beneficial in any respect.
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What really works - but we can't mention it
written by expharmaguy, December 11, 2008
The sad part about all of the "alternative" remedies, is that we know of one that really does work at delaying the onset of dementia, sharpens mental acuity, concentration, etc - tobacco - but researchers are forbidden from following up. Doctor's have known for years about the BENEFITS of smoking to dementia - by the way, I am a non-smoker, never did smoke - but that doesn't change the facts
p.s. - a 70 year old with dementia - start smoking - worry about the possible cancer in 30 years!
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written by deavman, December 11, 2008
Some 20 years ago, I used to purchase vitamins and other supplements because of course I "knew" that the modern diet could not possibly supply all required minerals and other wonderful compounds. I can't say that any of the stuff did its job or not....but I could not feel any difference! One day I discovered Scepticism and within a few weeks, I was all better. My brain seemed to work on a different frequency because suddenly all the hype about certain indispensable products somehow did not reach further than the grey area of the brain, it was somehow processed and then rejected. This was a wonderful feeling of power; I knew better. Then a few years ago, Swift came into my life....and..and what can I say, a new world has opened up to me. I feel younger, more energetic, more confident, even my skin feel more supple.. and best for last, I now have 20/20 vision. I think that a testimonials area on Swift is in order...after all if it works for me.....smilies/grin.gif
Thank you Randi, you rule.
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written by BillyJoe, December 11, 2008
I don't think there is any research that suggests that 5 cups of coffee in the morning is beneficial in any respect.

http://www.straightfromthedoc....y_says.php
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written by BillyJoe, December 11, 2008
Well, I don't take caffeine or nicotine.
And I don't even wear blue jeans.
...which means...um...let me see....um...
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written by cwniles, December 11, 2008
expharmaguy, ya' gotta any resources for those claims? I did a perfunctory search and mostly found studies linking smoking TO dementia, not preventing it. Perhaps a link to some studies is on order?

and Billy Joe...well, that was surprising, I never expected to see it in black and white like that. Your link was having issues but I went to straightfromthedoc.com and searched on coffee to find it BUT, the study was actually done by administering the caffeine equivalent of 5 cups of coffee to mice, not having the mice ingest the equivalent of five cups of coffee not to mention five cups of coffee loaded with cream and sugar. (pictures little mice lounging about with steaming cups of joe) ha
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cnwiles - try "nicotine, delay, onset, dementia"
written by expharmaguy, December 11, 2008
a search for the above keywords shows over 100,000 links, as well as established studies on parkinson's and other cns issues - part of the problem is the lack of any funding for the positive effects of nicotine - the dogma must be adhered to - I realize that smoking is harmful, but the claims against second hand smoke are ridiculous
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written by Willy K, December 11, 2008
written by BillyJoe, December 10, 2008
I think someone has a little Willy and he finds it funny. (It's alright, Willy, I'm having a little joke at your expense. Feel free to repay the favour any time. BJ


Billie Joe McAllister..... stay off the Tallahatchie Bridge. smilies/wink.gif

Willy K

P.S. My neighbors still swear that "Ancient Chinese" medicine works. One of them had acupuncture for a hurt elbow. It didn't work, yet still thinks there is some sort of "secret" that modern medicine ignores. I say if it really worked, most of the medical establishment would welcome it. After all, some of the biggest and most prestigious places like Sloan Kettering are now using acupuncture only because stupid people demand it. smilies/cry.gif
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written by cwniles, December 11, 2008
expharmaguy....yeah, ok, I see some references,....

Scientists at King's College London, among others, have shown that nicotine-based drugs could boost learning, memory and attention. The effect is small, but researchers believe it may help give dementia patients up to six extra months of independent living. The King's team, based at the Institute of Psychiatry, demonstrated the positive effects of nicotine in experiments on rats. "Nicotine, like many other drugs, has multiple effects, some of which are harmful, whereas others may be beneficial," The BBC quoted lead researcher Professor Ian Stolerman, as saying.

So, I can see someone saying "nicotine based drugs can be beneficial to someone suffering from the onset of dementia or as a ongoing therapy for sufferers". You did however specifically reference smoking and thats the part that caught my eye...I think if your statement was focused more on the nicotine aspect rather than smoking I wouldn't have paid it much mind.

Kinda like the five cups of coffee thing in the posts above, no one is actually force feeding mice the human/mouse equivalent of five cups of coffee, it's the caffeine that is the focus, just as here, it is the nicotine, not actually smoking. Though I don't argue at all with your statement, "a 70 year old with dementia - start smoking - worry about the possible cancer in 30 years!" though you might want to replace "smoking" with "nicotine based therapy under strict medical guidance".....that last part is somewhat of a joke smilies/smiley.gif
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written by cwniles, December 11, 2008
just an afterthought, I am not some sort of militiant anti-smoker, it's actually one of my few vices, well, ok, many vices and I have no problem at with any sort of proven medical therapies, marijuana for example....though one wonders if they really need to taking bonghits as opposed to some sort of THC pill.
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Nicotine
written by Ian Mason, December 12, 2008
Nicotine plasters have been tried in combination with anti-psychotic meds in treating Tourettes syndrome. Apparently nicotine enhances to good effects without increasing the negative side-effects. smilies/tongue.gif
And I admit to being a patient (depression/OCD) and an incurable smoker - my last remaining vice.
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Thanks for the input guys
written by expharmaguy, December 12, 2008
First post for me earlier, so thanks for sharpening my focus to cnwiles. Also as Ian Mason has pointed out, it actually works. My point is that we have a PROVEN aid, but will waste money on woo-woo, because the proven rememdy is politically incorrect - ie, nicotine is from tobacco, tobacco is ALWAYS evil, so don't investigate further - nothing to see here, move along, move along.
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written by The SkepDoc, December 12, 2008
I don't think there's been any attempt to suppress information about nicotine - studies are ongoing and the latest one on PubMed was dated Sep 2008. The problem is that the nicotine studies are in mice and may not carry over to humans. Nicotine may or may not have a similar effect in humans, and if it does help, it might have side effects that would outweigh the benefits. At any rate, the benefits are for nicotine alone: the dangers of tobacco far outweigh any benefits. And second-hand smoke is not harmless: it is clearly hazardous to health, albeit not as hazardous as some anti-smoking zealots have claimed.
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one smart use of ginko
written by Trish, December 12, 2008
There is one smart use of ginko - ginko trees are planted in NYC because they make good shade.
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written by CWS, December 13, 2008
Well, I take Ginko/Viagra to help me remember what the f--- I'm doing.
Just kidding; I wouldn't take that stuff, but I do smoke. ;-)
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written by CanBil Teknoloji, January 11, 2009
Thaks for the information. Well i will see to get next time ginko's in Turkey smilies/smiley.gif)).
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