Ginkgo Biloba, used for thousands of years in TCM for improving memory and cognition. This beneficial herb if taken will boost your ability to retain and recall facts, dates and appointments. It’s better than a calendar and cheaper than a PDA. It’s the brain enhancing drug we’ve all been waiting for, at least it would be if there was any evidence it actually did any of these things. The first documented use of this plant therapeutically is in 1436, to treat skin and head sores as well as, wait for it… freckles. Lucy Liu take note, keep away from Ginkgo. Anyway, it wasn’t until 1990, when a Nobel Laureate mentioned it in his Nobel Lecture on chemical synthesis, that interest in the plant really took off.

Studies had shown that ginkgo was effective at increasing blood flow, dementia researchers then speculated that increased blood flow to the brain caused by the active ingredient  might help counter memory loss. From this humble beginning the million dollar industry of promoting the herb as mind boosting wonder drug was born. Despite no credible evidence for it’s efficacy in improving the cognitive abilities of those not already suffering from dementia millions of people take this drug every day in the hopes of warding off that inevitable consequence of living and growing older, forgetfulness.

Now, I’m a forgetful guy, just ask my wife. And putting aside the lack of evidence and the the inherent irony of people concerned about forgetting things remembering to take a pill every day, I understand how tempting it is to want to believe that our every character flaw can be cured with the swallow of a tablet. Hey if there was a pill for charm, I’d be taking it no matter how dubious the research, ok, maybe not but I’d really want to. As with anything else the decision to take these things is up to the individual, but always be ready to change your mind about it if new information comes in. Also if a supplement has any biological activity at all, make no mistake, it is a drug and your doctor should be consulted if you have and medical condition or are on other medication.

Resources

http://www.slate.com/id/2165042/

http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php?p=202

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-02/aaon-dgb022208.php

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17443523?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVAbstractPlusDrugs1

http://www.stevenfoster.com/education/monograph/ginkgo.html