"Smart pills" under microscope in new study

Dr Janet Bryan (CSIRO) and Dr Nick Burns (Psychology, University of Adelaide) with a ginkgo tablet.

Dr Janet Bryan (CSIRO) and Dr Nick Burns (Psychology, University of Adelaide) with a ginkgo tablet.
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Tuesday, 20 August 2002

CAN a herbal tablet improve your memory and intelligence?

That's the question being put to the test by University of Adelaide and CSIRO scientists in a new trial of the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba.

Made from the extracts of leaves of the maidenhair tree, ginkgo biloba has been used for thousands of years in Asia and is among the most commonly prescribed drugs in France and Germany.

Ginkgo is said to relieve many conditions common in ageing, such as difficulties of concentration, memory loss, absent-mindedness, confusion, lack of energy and tiredness. It has also been assessed for its usefulness in Alzheimer's Disease.

Now scientists from the University's Department of Psychology and the CSIRO's Division of Health Sciences and Nutrition want to put some of those theories to the test - in young people.

"We're looking for 100 healthy young men aged 18 to 40 for the study," says Dr Nick Burns, lecturer in Psychology at the University.

"Participants will need to take tablets three times daily, containing either the herbal supplement or an inactive placebo. After 12 weeks, we'll conduct tests to see if there are any changes in cognitive performance.

"While we remain healthily sceptical about the effects ginkgo might have on people, the potential benefits should not be ignored, which is why we're conducting the study," Dr Burns says.

"We also need to put the herbal supplement to the test, so that consumers have a better understanding of what they're buying."

NOTE: Anyone taking cardiovascular medication, blood-thinning medications (e.g. aspirin, Warferin), medications likely to effect cognitive performance, or with a known cardiovascular condition or a history of recent head injury, will be excluded from the study.

For more information or to join the study, phone 8303 7519 or email: ginkgo.study@psychology.adelaide.edu.au


Contact Details

Dr Nick Burns
Email: nicholas.burns@adelaide.edu.au
Psychology Department
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 3965

Dr Janet Bryan
CSIRO Health Sciences and Nutrition
Business: +61 8 8313 8936