Efficacy and safety of Ginkgo biloba standardized extract in the treatment of vascular cognitive impairment: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017 Feb 16:13:483-490. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S120790. eCollection 2017.

Abstract

Objectives: The aim of this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was to determine the efficacy and safety of Ginkgo biloba extract in patients diagnosed with vascular cognitive impairment (VCI).

Methods: A total of 90 patients (aged 67.1±8.0 years; 59 women) were randomly allocated (1:1:1) to receive G. biloba 120 mg, G. biloba 60 mg, or placebo during a 6-month period. Assessment was made for efficacy indicators, including neuropsychological tests scores (Sandoz Clinical Assessment Geriatric Scale, Folstein Mini-Mental State Examination, Mattis Dementia Rating Scale, and Clinical Global Impression) and transcranial Doppler ultrasound findings. Safety indicators included laboratory findings, reported adverse reactions, and clinical examination.

Results: At the end of 6-month study period, G. biloba 120 and 60 mg showed a statistically significant positive effect in comparison with placebo only on the Clinical Global Impression score (2.6±0.8 vs 3.1±0.7 vs 2.8±0.7, respectively; P=0.038). The Clinical Global Impression score showed a significant deterioration from the baseline values in the placebo group (-0.3±0.5; P=0.021) as opposed to G. biloba groups. No significant differences were found in the transcranial Doppler ultrasound findings. Adverse reactions were significantly more common and serious in the placebo group (16 subjects) than in either of the two G. biloba extract groups (eight and nine subjects, respectively), whereas laboratory findings and clinical examinations revealed no differences between the groups receiving G. biloba extract and placebo.

Conclusion: According to our results, G. biloba seemed to slow down the cognitive deterioration in patients with VCI, but the effect was shown in only one of the four neuropsychological tests administered. However, because of this mild effect in combination with a few adverse reactions, we cannot say that it is ineffective or unsafe either. Further studies are still needed to provide unambiguous evidence on the efficacy and safety of G. biloba extract.

Keywords: Ginkgo biloba; dementia; vascular cognitive impairment.