Ginkgo biloba has a long history of use in China "as a traditional herb for memory, depression, tinnitus and confusion." In this randomized, controlled trial, Ginkgo biloba was demonstrated to improve both cognitive and neurological functions following acute ischemic stroke. Within seven days of the onset of acute ischemic stroke, patients from five hospitals in China were enrolled in this study. Study participants were assigned to either a Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) group (450mg GBE, along with 100mg aspirin daily), or a control group (100mg aspirin daily), for a duration of 6 months. The ingredients of GBE are complex, "and vary by age, cultivation source, and gender of the Ginkgo biloba tree." The extract GBE EGb761 was utilized as it is a well-defined GBE extract, that "contains approximately 24% flavone glycosides (primarily quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin), 6% terpene lactones (ginkgolides A, B and C, and bilobalide), 0.8% Ginkgolide B and <5 ppm [of the] harmful ginkgolic acid."
The primary consequences were defined as a "decline in the Montreal
Cognitive Assessment score at 6 months, [with] secondary outcomes [defined from] other neuropsychological tests of cognitive and neurological function." In the GBE group a "marked slowdown in the decline in the Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores" was observed, as compared to controls. Other neuropsychological tests of cognitive function were also performed, including National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), the Modified Rankin Scale (mRS) independent rate, and the Mini-Metal State Examination (MMSE). These examinations also demonstrated favorable improvements in neurological function with GBE treatment. The study concluded in affirming that patients having a stroke and receiving GBE "manifested better memory function, executive functions, neurological function and daily life." There was no increases the incidence of adverse events. It was also noted that "compared to donepezil (5 mg daily) in the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia, GBE (160 mg daily) showed comparable efficacy."
Li S, Zhang X, Fang Q, et al. Ginkgo biloba extract improved cognitive and neurological functions of acute ischaemic stroke: a randomized controlled trial. Stroke and Vascular Neurology 2017;2: e000104. doi:10.1136/svn-2017-000104.