Ginseng improves memory in stroke-related dementia patients

A recent study showed that a ginseng compound improved memory scores of people suffering from stroke-induced dementia, Chinese researchers reported. Memory loss, or dementia, may occur after stroke and is a growing problem in China, says lead researcher Jinzhou Tian, MD. In an early animal study, a ginseng compound increased the activities of the brain chemicals acetylcholine and choline acetyltransferase, (ChAT), in aged mice, he says. “However, the effects of Chinese ginseng compound on mild and moderate dementia after stroke in humans have not been reported until now.”

Researchers identified 40 patients (average age 67) with mild to moderate vascular dementia, which results from multiple small strokes. They randomly selected 25 patients to receive a tablet of ginseng extracted from Chinese ginseng roots, leaves and a herb known as panax notoginseng three times daily. The other 15 received a drug which increases oxygen use in brain tissue and has been used to improve memory in elderly dementia patients. Participants took memory tests focusing on a variety of learning and recall exercises at the outset and after 12 weeks.

Overall, researchers found that patients who took the ginseng compound significantly improved their average memory function after 12 weeks. The researchers encourage further, larger human studies to look into the potential uses of ginseng in stroke-related memory problems.

American Stroke Foundation, Feb 14, 2003