UK Considers Gingko To Treat Dementia

London researchers will explore the effectiveness of gingko, a complementary medicine traditionally used to treat circulatory problems, as a treatment for early dementia in a local setting rather than a typical hospital trial. A study of 250 patients over the age of 55 will find out whether physicians can help patients by prescribing the supplement to those with memory loss, one of the early symptoms of dementia.

It will be the first test of gingko as a treatment for those who are still being treated by their physicians. Previous trials have concentrated on patients receiving hospital care, where the condition is often more advanced.

Researchers believe gingko may prove more effective if prescribed in a community setting, where patients' symptoms are usually less severe. The trial will help us to find out whether with gingko it's a case of "the sooner the better," for patients who may benefit from taking it.

Gingko is believed to cause blood vessels to dilate, improving blood flow to the brain, and to thin the blood, making it less likely to clot. Gingko may also have antioxidant effects, protecting nerve cells against biological "rusting," suggesting it might slow down a degenerative process such as dementia.

EurekAlert August 19, 2004

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