Ginkgo won’t help you remember stuff

I have to confess that I am a big fan of Ginkgo biloba -the tree that is, not the “herbal supplement” that shares the name. Smelly fruits notwithstanding, ginkgos have beautiful leaves in summer and fall, they’re gymnosperms with broad, deciduous leaves, and their fossil history extends back 200 million years to the dawn of the Jurassic. For all we know, Stegosaurs relished the rancid butter aroma of their fallen fruits. Now how cool is that?

But Ginkgo biloba is also the name of an herbal preparation that extracts nearly $100 million annually from the hopeful and the gullible in this country, all in a bid to “improve memory.” It will be interesting to see, based on today’s news announcement of an excellent study that found ZERO cognitive benefit from taking ginkgo, how many of those people will continue to hand over their cash despite the evidence illustrating that it is pure folly to do so. That paper is beautifully summarized by Dr. Steven Novella in his “Science-based Medicine” blog.

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