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Gingko lengthens rats' lifespan

In experiments nematodes lived longer if they get extracts of Ginkgo biloba in their food. Researchers stumbled across the life-prolonging effect of ginkgo already in the nineties, by accident and in an organism that is closer to humans than nematodes: ginkgo also helps rats live longer.

In the nineties a researcher of the State University of New York at Buffalo examined whether ginkgo improved learning processes in older rats. The rats were given 50 mg of ginkgo per kg of bodyweight each day in their food. They started on the gingko when they were six weeks old and continued to receive it throughout their life.

During the experiment the researcher noticed that the animals that got ginkgo lived longer than the rats in the control group. You can see the effect in the graph below.

Gingko lengthens rats' lifespan

However, because the researcher's experiment had nothing to do with longevity but was about learning processes, he didn't look at why the rats reached a greater age with gingko. Nor did he do autopsies on the dead rats, which could have led to information on whether ginkgo perhaps reduces the chance of certain diseases of old age.

The research was sponsored by Dr Willmar Schwabe GmbH, a producer of ginkgo extracts based in Karlsruhe, Germany. The ginkgo extract that was tested, EGb 761, is a product of Schwabe. Minus point there.

French epidemiologists published the results of a study in 2007 in which it emerged that elderly people taking ginkgo are less likely to die.

Physiol Behav. 1998 Feb 1;63(3):425-33.