Trial finds Ginkgo biloba may help stroke survivors maintain cognitive function
January 2, 2018
Life Extension Update starts the New Year with fresh findings concerning a potential benefit for Ginkgo biloba in ischemic stroke survivors. The herb could help maintain the brain’s command and control ability known as executive function, as well as aid in other areas at risk of decline among those who have experienced a stroke.
On December 18, 2017, the journalStroke & Vascular Neurology reported positive cognitive effects in association with supplementation with Ginkgo biloba among men and women who had recently experienced an ischemic stroke. Post-stroke cognitive decline has been found to affect approximately 30% of stroke survivors, and can be progressive.
The current randomized, controlled trial included 348 participants who had experienced an acute ischemic stroke within the past 7 days. (Ischemic stroke is caused by blockage of a vessel that supplies blood to the brain, in contrast with hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by rupture and leakage of one of these vessels.) Subjects received 100 milligrams (mg) aspirin per day or 100 mg daily aspirin plus 150 mg ginkgo extract three times per day for 6 months, combined with regular therapy that included treatment of hypertension, lipid and glucose reduction, and neuroprotection. Neuropsychological tests and other assessments were conducted at 12, 30, 90, and 180 days.
Among the 330 men and women who completed the trial, Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores were significantly higher at each time point assessed among those who received ginkgo plus aspirin compared to those who received aspirin alone. (Lower scores are indicative of more serious impairment, particularly in executive function.) Other tests revealed improvement in neurologic deficit, global functional outcome and executive function in association with ginkgo supplementation. No significant differences in adverse events were observed between the groups.
According to authors Shanshan Li and colleagues at Nanjing University in China, possible mechanisms for ginkgo’s benefits in stroke patients include prevention of programmed cell death and increased cerebral blood flow.
"Ginkgo biloba extract in combination with aspirin treatment alleviated cognitive and neurological deficits after acute ischemic stroke without increasing the incidence of vascular events," they conclude.
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