Ginkgo biloba has historically been the most prescribed herb in Germany and has been used extensively in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The basic approved treatment protocol has been an extract (dubbed GBE) made from the leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree. Studies indicate that GBE may improve memory and quality of life and slow progression in the early stages of AD.
At least five double-blind trials have demonstrated GBE to be helpful for people in early stages of AD. A 2007 study of 400 subjects with AD, GBE improved dementia scores while subjects receiving the placebo experienced a deterioration of scores.
A review of over 52 studies conducted on GBE for the treatment of dementia, concluded that randomized controlled studies that focused on AD patients both showed significant improvement in these areas.
Another review of placebo-controlled trials of GBE for AD concluded that the herb compared favorably with two prescription drugs, donepezil and tacrine, commonly used to treat the condition. Researchers suggested that any step taken to reduce atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, was likely to improve blood circulation to the brain and help AD. There are several compounds in GBE that improve circulation and act as blood thinners and antioxidants.
GBE helps to suppress of the destructive protein known as amyloid beta. Amyloid beta is a peptide of 39 to 43 amino acids that is the main constituent of amyloid plaques in the brains of AD patients. Amyloid beta toxicity initiates the synaptic loss and subsequent neuronal degeneration seen in AD. GBE inhibits amyloid beta induced cell death in neuroblastoma cells. Because GBE suppresses amyloid beta related pathological behaviors, it is a viable therapeutic potential for prevention and treatment of AD.