Taking the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba may delay the onset of cognitive impairment in elderly adults. However, the study also showed a higher incidence of strokes and "mini-strokes" in ginkgo users.
In a three-year study of more than 100 people age 85 and older with no memory problems, half took ginkgo biloba extract three times a day, and half took a placebo.
During the course of the study, 14 of those who took the placebo developed memory problems, but only 7 of those who took the ginkgo extract did. When the researchers took into account whether people followed directions in taking the study pills, they found that people who reliably took ginkgo had a 68 percent lower risk of developing memory problems.
Seven people taking ginkgo had strokes, while none of those taking placebo did.