Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences


Alzheimer's disease is a progressive dementia associated with increasing loss of memory, intellectual function, and disturbances in speech. It is the most common form of dementia. It is an incurable disease and has four stages which culminate in coma and death. The average survival rate for Alzheimer's is seven years. Presently, the only treatments approved in the United States for Alzheimer's are the drugs tacrine and donepezil. These drugs improve cognitive function in early Alzheimer's. However, Ginkgo biloba has recently been looked at as another treatment option and has been approved for use in Germany. Ginkgo Biloba was originally used in China and has recently become popular in the western world. It claims to improve cerebral insufficiency, hearing impairment, circulation to the extremities, and memory in early Alzheimer's disease. The side effects of Ginkgo include reduced blood clotting; restlessness, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dizziness, and heart palpitations in less than four percent of people; and it isn't recommended for pregnant or lactating women. Several studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of ginkgo biloba. These studies found a protective effect against free radical damage, a beneficial effect on neural cells, and similar effects of ginkgo when compared to tacrine. Despite the positive findings for ginkgo biloba in these studies, it is limited by only having benefit in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The findings for ginkgo biloba support its use in early Alzheimer's, but more research needs to be done before it can be recommended for treatment in the United States.



Faculty Mentor

Marie K. Walsh

Departmental Honors Advisor

Noreen B. Schvaneveldt