French scientists claimed Tuesday that long-term use of a ginkgo biloba extract can protect against Alzheimer's disease by 47 percent, following the largest European study of its kind.
The GuidAge study saw groups of elderly people with memory complaints randomly assigned 240 milligrams per day of ginkgo extract, or a placebo, to be taken daily.
After four years, 29 out of 966 people who were given the placebo developed Alzheimer’s disease, compared with 15 out of 947 of the subjects who took the ginkgo extract EGb 761.
Professor Michael Habs, Managing Director at Dr. Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals, producers of EGb 761 described the study as “remarkable.”
"It is the first time ever that a protective effect against Alzheimer's disease has been demonstrated for a medicine.
"The multifaceted effects of the plant extract appear to positively influence the complex developmental processes of dementia."
Professor Ralf Ihl, director of the Department of Geriatric Psychiatry at Germany’s Dusseldorf University, said, "There have been hints that ginkgo biloba may exert a preventive effect. With the findings of this study we have first scientifically verifiable results suggesting that the extract may be useful for preventing the development of Alzheimer's disease."
Schwabe Pharmaceuticals said the results corresponded with two earlier cohort studies carried out in France, along with a U.S. funded study that found a dementia-protective effect in subjects who took their medication regularly.
Another U.S. study previously found ginkgo extract EGb 761 provided no protective effect against dementia, however Schwabe said that towards the end of this study the medicine was reportedly taken by little more than half of the subjects.