Does Ginkgo Biloba Improve Memory?

Does Ginkgo Biloba Improve Memory?

Memory disorders have been increased dramatically increased in people with age, that poses the major challenges to nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries to introduce the products which prevent or improve the memory related problems. The problem related to memory has been reported to be fundamental to our entire social system because our culture is based on the ability to recall the information. New drug therapies have been developed to improve cognition, through stimulation of the cholinergic system. In recent decades, an extract of the leaves of the tree Ginkgo biloba L. has been used to improve memory in these disorders (Diamond and Mondragon, 2017).

The European experience with Ginkgo extract is much greater than that of the U.S. Clinical studies to date have indicated a probable therapeutic benefit of Ginkgo biloba extract. Further human studies are needed to identify which clinical population is most responsive to Ginkgo treatment. In addition, it would be very useful to identify which chemical compound or compounds provide therapeutic effects in memory disorders (Beck et al., 2016). These bioactive components may be further concentrated for increased benefit in increasing cognitive memory capabilities. In addition, pharmaceutical companies might be able to modify memory-enhancing Ginkgo-derived molecules to increase potency and effectiveness, leading to the next generation of memory-enhancing drugs. It helps the body to eliminate free radicals thereby improving memory, alertness, clarity, depression and apathy in some people. 

Mechanism of action to improve memory

The ginkgo improves the memory by simply allowing the increased blood flow to reach the brain, thus allowing for more oxygen hence allowing the cells to function at a faster pace. The active compounds, which are responsible for memory enhancement, are present in leaves and their concentration in leaves vary with seasons, with the highest concentration present in the autumn season. The constituents include terpenoids (eg, bilobalide) and ginkgolides A, B, C, J, and M), flavonoids (eg, kaempferal, quercetin, isorhamnetin, and polymeric flavonoids proanthocyanidins), steroids (eg, sitosterol and stigmasterol), and organic acids (ascorbic, benzoic, shikimic, and vanillic) (Gaiardo et al., 2018). The flavonoids and terpenoids are believed to be responsible for the herb's pharmacologic actions, which include increased blood flow, improve memory,  decreasing blood viscosity, antagonizing platelet-activating factor receptors, increasing tolerance to anoxia, inhibiting monoamine oxidase, protecting against infections, and preventing membrane damage by free radicals. The flavonoids are associated with the antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties of the herb, while the terpenoids are associated with the anti-infective properties, memory boosting and the antiplatelet-activating factor, which helps prevent membrane damage to vessels and decreases blood viscosity. Because Ginkgo biloba is believed to regulate the tone and elasticity of blood vessels, it could increase blood flow to the brain and improve the memory and the tolerance of the brain to hypoxia (Chen et al., 2016).

Dosage for memory improvement

Doses recommended 60-460 mg/day ginkgo biloba extract in two to three divided doses for up to one year to treat memory disorders and to enhance and improve memory. Improvement of one or more measures has been associated with doses ranging from 120 to 300 mg/day for 3-13 weeks (Hong et al., 2017).

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Beck, S. M., Ruge, H., Schindler, C., Burkart, M., Miller, R., Kirschbaum, C., & Goschke, T. (2016). Effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761® on cognitive control functions, mental activity of the prefrontal cortex and stress reactivity in elderly adults with subjective memory impairment–a randomized double‐blind placebo‐controlled trial. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 31(3), 227-242.

Chen, L. E., Wu, F., Zhao, A., Ge, H., & Zhan, H. (2016). Protection Efficacy of the Extract of Ginkgo biloba against the Learning and Memory Damage of Rats under Repeated High Sustained. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016.

Diamond, B. J., & Mondragon, A. (2017). Ginkgo biloba. Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice. Washington: American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 149.

Gaiardo, R. B., Abreu, T. F., Tashima, A. K., Telles, M. M., & Cerutti, S. M. (2018). Target Proteins in the Dorsal Hippocampal Formation Sustain the Memory-Enhancing and Neuroprotective Effects of Ginkgo biloba. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9.

Hong, F., Wang, L., L Wu, S., C Tang, H., Sha, O., SM Wai, M., & T Yew, D. (2017). A review of three commonly used herbs which enhance memory and new evidences which show their combination could improve memory in young animals. Mini reviews in medicinal chemistry, 17(16), 1537-1547.