WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine will test whether an extract from the leaves of the ginkgo tree can slow memory loss in older adults.
They will ask participants in a large continuing national study -- the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) -- to sign up for the clinical trial of ginkgo. CHS is an observational study of cardiovascular diseases in 5,888 adults over 65 that has been underway since 1989 in Winston-Salem, Pittsburgh, Pa., Hagerstown, Md. and Sacramento, Calif.
Until now, no participants have received any treatment. The new six-year clinical trial will test whether 240 milligrams a day of ginkgo will slow memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
The trial, paid for by the new National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is one of the agency's first to test a dietary supplement to see if it really works.
"Lots of people are already taking ginkgo biloba," said Gregory L. Burke, M.D., director of the clinical center at Wake Forest. "It's important for us to determine whether that's a good use of money and, more importantly, whether ginkgo biloba has a positive effect on memory. This issue needs to be resolved."
Burke, professor and interim chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences, said some German studies and several in the United States "suggest that ginkgo biloba may be an important way to reduce the burden of memory loss in older adults."
But those studies have been inconclusive. "That's why we're doing the trial." CHS was selected for the ginkgo trial "because we have previously collected information about memory function on our participants and how that has changed over time," said Curt D. Furberg, M.D., Ph.D., head of the new study's national clinical coordinating center. "It's a strength to have a population that is so well characterized."
All of CHS participants have been given annual tests of cognitive function and memory loss since the stu
Contact: Robert Conn, Mark Wright or Jim Steele
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center