The effect of Ginkgo biloba on functional measures in multiple sclerosis: a pilot randomized controlled trial

Explore (NY). 2006 Jan;2(1):19-24. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2005.10.007.


Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic demyelinating neurological disease afflicting young and middle-aged adults, resulting in problems with coordination, strength, cognition, affect, and sensation.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether a ginkgo extract (EGb 761) improved functional performance in individuals with MS.

Design: This study used a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group design. The end point was change between baseline (ie, preintervention) and follow-up evaluation following a regimen of four tablets per day at 60 mg per tablet for four weeks.

Setting: The study was conducted in academic and clinical-based settings.

Patients/participants: Twenty-two individuals with MS were randomly assigned to either the treatment or control condition. Groups did not differ with respect to age, IQ, and education.

Intervention: Half of the subjects received 240 mg per day of ginkgo special extract (EGb 761), and the other half received placebo.

Main outcome measure: The main outcome measures assessed depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies of Depression Scale [CES-D]), anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory [STAI]), fatigue (Modified Fatigue Impact Scale [MFIS]); symptom severity (Symptom Inventory [SI]) and functional performance (Functional Assessment of Multiple Sclerosis [FAMS]).

Results: The ginkgo group had significantly more individuals showing improvement on four or more measures with improvements associated with significantly larger effect sizes on measures of fatigue, symptom severity, and functionality. The ginkgo group also exhibited less fatigue at follow-up compared with the placebo group.

Conclusions: This exploratory pilot study showed that no adverse events or side effects were reported and that ginkgo exerted modest beneficial effects on select functional measures (eg, fatigue) among some individuals with MS.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Central Nervous System Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / etiology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatigue / drug therapy
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Central Nervous System Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Ginkgo biloba extract