Elixirs for you Memory Essay

This essay has a total of 1488 words and 7 pages.

Elixirs for you Memory

“Elixirs For Your Memory:
The blitz is on for ginkgo and other herbal products, but are they panaceas or placebos?”
-Time Magazine September 13,1999

Recently, everywhere you turn, you see or hear about new herbal remedies used for
improving one’s memory and concentration. One more frequently discussed is Ginkgo Biloba.
It is an herbal substance that offers hope for improving memory, concentration and brain
functions. Ginkgo Biloba is a derivative of a leafy ornamental tree that originated in
eastern China. It is said to increase blood flow to the brain, improving alertness and
concentration (Drummond, September 13,1999).

Although many people who are currently taking this medication swear by it, who really
knows if it does improve brain functions or if it is just a placebo? The article “Elixirs
For Your Memory” discusses the latest information regarding Gingko Biloba. At large, most
researchers are still unsure about the medication. Many feel that extensive investigation
and experimentation is still needed before trustworthy results can be established. Yet, on
the other side, traditional healers have no doubts about Gingko Biloba and believe that it
has been used in Chinese medicine for years working wonders for it’s receivers. Obviously,
the manufacturers of these medications also believe that the medicine is a success for
improving brain functions.

If you were to ask a memory expert his or her opinion about Gingko Biloba, the most likely
answer would be that they are skeptical about it and other brain boosters (Drummond,
September 13,1999). “Most of these products have not be investigated to any significant
extent that would warrant the claims that are being made,” says Doctor Ronald Peterson, a
neuroscientist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “Other researchers are even more to
the point. All the media, they say is merely a case of a placebo effect run amuck: people
want their memories to get better, so they do. Give them a sugar pill, and they probably
wouldn’t know the difference” (Drummond, September 13, 1999).

Many individuals are concerned with the recent liking taken toward these medicines. One
concern comes from government researchers. Their concern is that millions of people are
engulfing supplements without any idea what the substance side effects are, whether
positive or negative. “The National Institutes of Health is undertaking a study of the
effects of Gingko Biloba on elderly people with mild memory impairment, but it will be
years before results are in” (Drummond, September 13, 1999). Consumers of such products
have little to go on other than the manufacturer’s claims and inconclusive research.

Even more alarming, Gingko Biloba and other substances are not regulated by the Food and
Drug Administration. The potency and purity of the products vary from brand to brand. At
that, who reads labels anymore before popping foreign substances into their mouths? Many
uses of these substances haven’t the slightest idea what they are consuming and what the
does and don’ts are while taking the medicine. One don’t involved with Gingko Biloba is
that individuals who are taking aspirin or other blood thinners should first consult their
physician before beginning the product. The reason is because Gingko Biloba contains
anticlotting characteristics; when it is taken in combination with blood thinners it can
cause internal bleeding (Drummond, September 13, 1999).

One aspect is generally agreed on, there is not enough known about memory substances to
assess the potential risks. Most research so far has been conducted on humans suffering
from Alzheimer’s disease or on laboratory animals such as mice. Scientists are now only
beginning to conduct research on how the memory reacts to the natural aging process. It is
a lot more complex than people assume and it is going to take a lot of time inorder to
find answers to memory loss and ways to prohibit it. One day it maybe quite possible to
take a medication to prevent memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease. Until then, “Experts
suggest following the phrase Use it or Lose it. By simply reading a book or solving a
crossword puzzle on a regular basis can do wonders, even if it is not clear why”
(Drummond, September 13, 1999).

In summary, the article suggests that taking substances may not be the best thing to do at
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