A Case Study Examining the Effectiveness of Ginkgo Biloba in Treating Cognitive Impairment in Schizophrenic Individuals

Stephanie Budhan ‘21

Figure 1. New drugs are being researched to help in the treatment of cognitive impairment in schizophrenic individuals.

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that affects an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and causes the individual to gradually deteriorate over time. Doctors often overlook cognitive impairment within schizophrenic individuals. There is no proven treatment option, but this has led psychiatrists to provide medications with the cognitive aspect in mind; Currently, medications that contain compounds to improve mitochondrial functioning, have anti-oxidant properties, and stabilize neuronal membranes are being researched to impair cognition in schizophrenic individuals. One substance of interest is called Ginkgo biloba which has anti-oxidant properties with no known significant adverse effects. Ginkgo biloba can potentially influence neurotransmitter activity in several regions of the brain and thereby affect mood symptoms.

The current study is a case study that examines a 50 year old female schizophrenia and her experience and treatment when taking Ginkgo biloba. She was given three drugs, one by one, over a one year span to help with cognitive discomfort such as difficultly in concentration and short- term memory loss. The fist two drugs did not work, and third one, Ginkgo biloba, caused the patient to experience irritability, difficulty in controlling anger, and agitation side effects. Thus, her doctors recommended she stop taking the drug. But while the side effects subsided, the patient’s initial cognitive discomfort symptoms had disappeared as well. This situation of both the side effects and cognitive discomfort subsiding occurred each time the patient took Gingko biloba, which implies that perhaps Gingko biloba was effective. However, the literature surrounding Gingko biloba is controversial with some studies contradicting the current case study’s findings on the drug. Furthermore, the main pharmacological component of Ginkgo biloba, extract EGb (Extract Ginkgo biloba) 761 is not well understood. Thus, more research on the effects of Ginkgo biloba as a viable treatment option and related drugs are needed to treat the complex symptoms of schizophrenia.



  1. S. Rho, Y. Woo, & W. Bahk. Ginkgo biloba induced mood dysregulation: a case report. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 18, 1-4 (2018). doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-018-2081-4  
  2. Image retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prozac_pills_cropped.jpg

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