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There may still be a role for ginkgo in treating, rather than preventing, Alzheimer's disease, said Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association, a trade association.
Some previous ginkgo trials have shown no benefit in Alzheimer's symptom treatment, while others have found it comparable to prescription drugs such as Aricept, also known as donepezil.
A four-month supply of ginkgo can cost less than $10. But not all brands contain what their labels claim. ConsumerLab.com, which tests the ingredients in supplements, reported Tuesday that of seven ginkgo products it reviewed, five failed to pass its tests. An eighth ginkgo product also passed the group's test in a voluntary certification program.
The dementia study was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is undertaking large, scientific tests of a number of commonly used dietary supplements. The agency said it's the largest-ever randomized trial of a botanical medicine. There have been larger studies of vitamins and minerals.
DeKosky reported receiving grants from and acting as a consultant for several drug companies, including some that make dementia drugs. Schwabe Pharmaceuticals of Karlsruhe, Germany, provided the ginkgo tablets and identical placebos.
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