Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: Ginkgo biloba: What's the verdict?

Q. A friend recently recommended that I take the herb ginkgo biloba to protect against getting dementia. Is it effective, and is it safe?

A. The first thing you should consider is that the FDA doesn't regulate the manufacture of any herbal remedy, so the purity and potency of the ginkgo biloba you buy hasn't been checked.

That said, plenty of studies have shown that ginkgo may have benefits. Some research suggests that it may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease and dementia caused by multiple strokes. Ginkgo may improve leg pain caused by atherosclerosis of arteries in the legs and speed recovery after a stroke. Positive results have been reported for ringing in the ears (tinnitus), vertigo, and even attacks of pain from hemorrhoids. Yet there are also studies that conclude that ginkgo doesn't have beneficial effects on these various conditions. In short, the results are mixed.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »