Ginkgo biloba has been reported to improve cognitive function in older adults and patients with Alzheimer's disease and multi-infarct dementia. We conducted an open-label phase II study of this botanical product in symptomatic irradiated brain tumor survivors. Eligibility criteria included: life expectancy ≥30 weeks, partial or whole brain radiation ≥6 months before enrollment, no imaging evidence of tumor progression in previous 3 months, or stable or decreasing steroid dose, and no brain tumor treatment planned while on study. The Ginkgo biloba dose was 120 mg/day (40 mg t.i.d.) for 24 weeks followed by a 6-week washout period. Assessments performed at baseline, 12, 24 (end of treatment), and 30 weeks (end of washout) included KPS, Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Brain (FACT-Br), Profile of Mood States, Mini-Mental Status Exam, Trail Making Test Parts A (TMT-A) and B (TMT-B), Digit Span Test, Modified Rey Osterrieth Complex Figure (ROCF), California Verbal Learning Test Part II, and the F-A-S Test.
Results: Of the 34 patients enrolled on study, 23 (68 %) completed 12 weeks of treatment and 19 (56 %) completed 24 weeks of treatment. There were significant improvements at 24 weeks in: executive function (TMT-B) (p = 0.007), attention/concentration (TMT-A) (p = 0.002), and non-verbal memory (ROCF-immediate/delayed recall) (p = 0.001/0.002), mood (p = 0.002), FACT-Br subscale (p = 0.001), and the FACT physical subscale (p = 0.003).
Conclusions: Some improvement in quality of life and cognitive function were noted with Ginkgo biloba. However, treatment with Ginkgo biloba was associated with a high dropout rate.