Modulation of cognition and mood following administration of single doses of Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and a ginkgo/ginseng combination to healthy young adults

D. O. Kennedy, A. B. Scholey, K. A. Wesnes

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It has previously been demonstrated in separate studies that single doses of Ginkgo biloba, Panax ginseng, and a combination of the two extracts can improve different aspects of cognitive performance in healthy young volunteers. The present study directly compared the effects of single doses of G. biloba, ginseng, and a product combining the two on aspects of mood and cognitive performance in the same cohort of healthy, young adult volunteers. The study followed a randomised placebo-controlled, double-blind, balanced, cross-over design. Twenty participants received 360 mg of ginkgo, 400 mg of ginseng, 960 mg of a product combining the two extracts, and a matching placebo. Treatment order was dictated by random allocation to a Latin square, with a 7-day wash-out period between treatments. Cognitive testing comprised completion of the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) computerised assessment battery and two serial subtraction mental arithmetic tasks. Mood was assessed with Bond-Lader visual analogue scales. Following a baseline cognitive assessment, further test sessions took place 1, 2.5, 4, and 6 h after the day's treatment was taken. The results largely supported previous findings. All three treatments were associated with improved secondary memory performance on the CDR battery, with the ginseng condition evincing some improvement in the speed of performing memory tasks and in the accuracy of attentional tasks. Following ginkgo and the ginkgo/ginseng combination performance of both the Serial Threes and Serial Sevens, subtraction tasks was also improved at the later testing sessions. No modulation of the speed of performing attention tasks was evident. Improvements in self-rated mood was also found following ginkgo and to a lesser extent the combination product.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-751
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute effects
  • Attention
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Ginseng
  • Memory
  • Mood

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