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Efficacy and Adverse Effects of Ginkgo Biloba for Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


Background: Research into Ginkgo biloba has been ongoing for many years, while the benefit and adverse effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb761 for cognitive impairment and dementia has been discussed controversially. Objective: To discuss new evidence on the clinical and adverse effects of standardized Ginkgo biloba extract EGb761 for cognitive impairment and dementia. Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane, and other relevant databases were searched in March 2014 for eligible randomized controlled trials of Ginkgo biloba EGb761 therapy in patients with cognitive impairment and dementia. Results: Nine trials met our inclusion criteria. Trials were of 22–26 weeks duration and included 2,561 patients in total. In the meta-analysis, the weighted mean differences in change scores for cognition were in favor of EGb761 compared to placebo (−2.86, 95%CI −3.18; −2.54); the standardized mean differences in change scores for activities in daily living (ADLs) were also in favor of EGb761 compared to placebo (−0.36, 95%CI −0.44; −0.28); Peto OR showed a statistically significant difference from placebo for Clinicians' Global Impression of Change (CGIC) scale (1.88, 95%CI 1.54; 2.29). All these benefits are mainly associated with EGb761 at a dose of 240 mg/day. For subgroup analysis in patients with neuropsychiatric symptoms, 240 mg/day EGb761 improved cognitive function, ADLs, CGIC, and also neuropsychiatric symptoms with statistical superiority than for the whole group. For the Alzheimer's disease subgroup, the main outcomes were almost the same as the whole group of patients with no statistical superiority. Finally, safety data revealed no important safety concerns with EGb761. Conclusions: EGb761 at 240 mg/day is able to stabilize or slow decline in cognition, function, behavior, and global change at 22–26 weeks in cognitive impairment and dementia, especially for patients with neuropsychiatric symptoms.