Ginkgo biloba, one of the top selling herbs in the United States, has long been used as a natural brain booster.
Now, new research published in the journal Stroke, suggests a daily dose of Gingko may help to protect the brain from damage after a stroke.
While studies have only been done on mice thus far, researchers believe the findings support earlier theories that gingko may be a promising treatment for stroke patients.
"The difference between rodent brains and human brains is rather significant, but findings strongly suggest additional research into the protective effects of gingko is warranted," said Dr. Sylvain Doré, PhD, lead researcher and associate professor in the Johns Hopkins department of anesthesiology and critical care medicine.
If further research confirms previous findings, theoretically, researchers can suggest a daily dose of gingko as a preventive measure against brain damage to people at risk of stroke.
For the study, researchers gave mice various daily doses of gingko and then induced a stroke. They found that the mice treated with gingko had 51 percent less neurological dysfunction than the mice who didn’t receive gingko. Areas of brain damage decreased by 48 percent in the gingko group.
Researchers also gave the extract to mice after they had a stroke, and the sooner they got it, the less damage they suffered.
The results are suggestive that an element or element(s) in gingko have protective properties that can protect brain cells during a stroke, said Dr. Doré.
Approximately 600,000 people suffer a stroke in the U.S. each year. About nine out of ten stroke patients experience ischemic stroke, when an artery to the brain is blocked. A stroke can cause severe brain damage by depriving the brain cells of blood. Toxic oxygen molecules (free radicals) can cause even more damage to the brain.
Gingko biloba, a tree native to China with fan-like leaves, may help prevent brain damage because it increases enzyme levels that work to remove free radicals around the stroke site.
Before taking gingko supplements, patients should seek medical advice from their doctor. Gingko can thin blood, therefore those patients at risk for stroke and seizures are advised against taking it.
Gingko should not be taken 36 hours prior to surgical procedures due to an increased risk of bleeding.
Patients that have a bleeding or clotting disorder, or those patients taking insulin, warfarin, and various other types of drugs, are also advised against taking gingko. For more information, please seek medical advice from your doctor. #