Effects of Ginkgo biloba on mental functioning in healthy volunteers

Arch Med Res. 2003 Sep-Oct;34(5):373-81. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2003.05.001.


Background: There has been a lack of investigations examining the effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 on mental functions and quality of life in healthy subjects with no cognitive impairment. Thus, the objective of the present study was to evaluate the relatively short-term (i.e., 4 weeks) effects of EGb 761 on mental functioning and quality of life in healthy volunteers.

Methods: The trial was conducted as a 4-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, monocentric study. Sixty six healthy volunteers aged between 50 and 65 years without age-associated cognitive impairment were randomized, 32 into the placebo and 34 into the EGb 761-treatment group (240 mg, t.i.d.). Safety and compliance were monitored after 1, 2, 3 and 4 weeks. Primary outcome measures in this study are the subjects' judgment of their own mental health (MH), their general health (GH) and their quality of life (QoL) operationalized on the basis of three different visual analog scales (VAS). Secondary outcome measures are 15 tests and experimental procedures based on a neurobiologically based classification or taxonomy of functions.

Results: Intergroup differences in self-estimated mental health as well as self-estimated quality of life were significant in favor of EGb 761. No intergroup differences were found in self-estimated general health. Secondary outcomes supporting the notion of superiority of the active drug were found for both motor performance and emotional evaluation. This study did not reveal evidence of unknown drug-induced side effects or intolerance. No serious adverse events were observed during the study.

Conclusions: Both questions treated in this study, efficacy and safety, are important from a medical perspective because many persons take the agent studied in an effort to enhance their mental functioning and general well-being. The findings of this study support the adequacy of intake of EGb 761 to improve the functions indicated previously.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Placebos
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Preparations / adverse effects
  • Plant Preparations / pharmacology*
  • Quality of Life*


  • Placebos
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Preparations
  • Ginkgo biloba extract