Effect of ginkgo in Alzheimer's questionable

Studies provide only weak evidence of benefits compared to placebo

Gingko © A & M University
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Whether or not patients with Alzheimer's dementia benefit from medications containing Ginkgo biloba extract remains unresolved. Because currently available studies provide very contradictory results. This is the conclusion of a preliminary report from the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

According to the preliminary report published on February 29, studies provide evidence that dementia patients who have been treated with gingko-containing drugs for at least 16 weeks are slightly better off than patients receiving a placebo. They can cope with the activities of daily life a little better and suffer less often from concomitant depression. However, the study results are very different, sometimes even contradictory.

According to the experts, the studies are therefore not sufficiently reliable interpretable and did not allow general statements on the benefits of Gingko biloba. This concerns in particular the size of the possible effects of the active substance. The studies also did not provide reliable information on other therapeutic goals that are important for patients or relatives, such as quality of life, adverse reactions or care requirements.

Too few studies, too inconsistent groups of subjects

In general, the IQWiG considers the study situation inadequate: In their research, the IQWiG scientists found only six studies with a total of 1, 384 participants with Alzheimer's dementia, which they were able to include in the benefit assessment. The composition of the patients included in the studies was very different. The scientists do not rule out that this could be a reason for the very heterogeneous results.

In any case, they consider further studies necessary. These should be targeted to individual subgroups of patients wherever possible. Only in this way could it be found out, for example, whether patients of a certain age or with a certain concomitant symptom of Gingko biloba could benefit. display

The preliminary report of the IQWiG is a preliminary partial result of a comprehensive mandate of the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) to evaluate treatment options for patients with Alzheimer's disease.

(Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, 03.03.2008 - NPO)