The study – published in Neurology – investigated the effectiveness of Gingko biloba at improving cognitive functions in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The researchers noted that the supplement has been used for many years by people with MS in the belief that it may help them with cognitive problems associated with the disease.
However, the science now says otherwise, says Dr Jesus Lovera – who led the study.
"We wanted to follow up on the earlier findings that suggested there may be some benefit,” said Lovera. “But we believe this larger study settles the question: Gingko simply doesn't improve cognitive performance with MS patients."
"It's important for scientists to continue to analyze what might help people with cognitive issues relating to their MS," added the lead researcher – who completed much of the work at Oregon Health & Science University, USA, but is now at Louisiana State University.
Lovera said the new study is a more extensive investigation, after a smaller 2005 pilot study suggested there might have been some cognitive benefits in MS patients using the supplement. That study found that Gingko seemed to improve attention in MS patients with cognitive impairment.
However the larger follow-up study, conducted with 120 MS patients at selected medical centres, found no cognitive benefits to using Gingko when compared to a placebo supplement.
More to follow