Is Ginkgo biloba a cognitive enhancer in healthy individuals? A meta-analysis

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2012 Nov;27(6):527-33. doi: 10.1002/hup.2259. Epub 2012 Sep 24.


Objective: We conducted a meta-analysis to examine whether Ginkgo biloba (G. biloba) enhances cognitive function in healthy individuals.

Methods: Scopus, Medline, Google Scholar databases and recent qualitative reviews were searched for studies examining the effects of G. biloba on cognitive function in healthy individuals. We identified randomised controlled trials containing data on memory (K = 13), executive function (K = 7) and attention (K = 8) from which effect sizes could be derived. The analyses provided measures of memory, executive function and attention in 1132, 534 and 910 participants, respectively.

Results: Effect sizes were non-significant and close to zero for memory (d = -0.04: 95%CI -0.17 to 0.07), executive function (d = -0.05: 95%CI -0.17 to 0.05) and attention (d = -0.08: 95%CI -0.21 to 0.02). Meta-regressions showed that effect sizes were not related to participant age, duration of the trial, daily dose, total dose or sample size.

Conclusions: We report that G. biloba had no ascertainable positive effects on a range of targeted cognitive functions in healthy individuals.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / drug effects
  • Cognition* / drug effects
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / administration & dosage
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Executive Function / drug effects
  • Ginkgo biloba / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Nootropic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Plant Extracts