Effects of Ginkgo biloba on dementia: An overview of systematic reviews

J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Jan 4:195:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.12.005. Epub 2016 Dec 7.


Objective: To assess the cumulative evidence on the efficacy and effectiveness of Ginkgo biloba extract (GbE) in the treatment of dementia.

Design: Overview of systematic reviews.

Methods: PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane, and Google Scholar were searched in June 2016. Systematic reviews (SRs) of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the effects of GbE on different outcomes in people with dementia or cognitive impairment were included. Methodological quality of the included SRs was assessed using the AMSTAR tool. The quality of evidence of the primary studies was assessed using GRADE.

Results: Twelve SRs with meta-analyses met the eligibility criteria. The quality of the evidence reported in these SRs varies ranging from low to moderate level. Overall, the available evidence suggests that GbE has potentially beneficial effects over placebo on cognitive performance, activities of daily living, and clinical global impression in the treatment of dementia at doses greater than 200mg/day (usually 240mg/day) administrated for 22 weeks or longer, and that GbE appears to be safe for human consumption. No sufficient evidence supports the favorable effects of GbE administrated for less than 22 weeks. The available evidence consistently indicates that a dose less than 200mg/day of GbE may not be adequate to yield clinical relevant effects in the treatment of dementia.

Conclusions: GbE has potentially beneficial effects for people with dementia when it is administered at doses greater than 200mg/day for at least 5 months. Given the lower quality of the evidence, further rigorously-designed, multicenter-based, large-scale RCTs are warranted.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Cognitive impairment; Dementia; Ginkgo biloba; Meta-analysis; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / drug therapy*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ginkgo biloba / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Nootropic Agents / adverse effects
  • Nootropic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Nootropic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Safety
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Nootropic Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Ginkgo biloba extract