Ginkgo Improves Cholinergic Function
The German Commission E Monographs are the most comprehensive reports in the world on the uses and efficacy of most major herbal medications. The monograph on Ginkgo biloba, published in 1994, outlined its known pharmacological effects.5 Two of the most important of these in terms of treating Alzheimer's disease are inhibition of the age-related decline in acetylcholine receptors on the neurons, and stimulation of acetylcholine uptake in the hippocampus, a brain structure vitally important to memory.
A more thorough study done in 2000 gave a detailed analysis of ginkgo's effects on brain acetylcholine levels.6 This study reported that ginkgo protects the brain against age-related losses of cholinergic neurons and increases the uptake of acetylcholine in the hippocampus. Another recent study, in the journal Phytomedicine, compared the efficacy of ginkgo to that of the four major anti-Alzheimer's drugs, all of which are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.7 The report concluded that there were no major differences among the four drugs and ginkgo in terms of the slowing of symptom progression.
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