Stroke: Ginkgo biloba extract could improve brain function

Ginkgo biloba tree

Stroke: Ginkgo biloba extract could improve brain function


Used by complementary medical practitioners for eons, the herbal extract, ginkgo biloba, might benefit cognitive functioning after stroke, a new study suggests, when used in combination with aspirin.

Ginkgo biloba extract may benefit people who have experienced ischemic stroke.

Scientists have discovered that a daily dose of ginkgo biloba extract and aspirin can improve memory and "command and control" functions in people who experienced ischemic stroke.

The treatment was significantly more effective than aspirin alone.

Study co-author Qi Fang — from the Department of Neurology at The First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University in Suzhou, China — and colleagues have reported their results in the journal Stroke & Vascular Neurology.

More than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year, which is the equivalent to one stroke every 40 seconds.

Around 87 percent of strokes are ischemic, wherein the artery that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked — most commonly due to a blood clot.

This blockage deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients carried by the blood, which can cause damage to brain cells. Side effects, such as memory and thinking problems and loss of motor function, may arise as a result of this.

Tissue plasminogen activator is currently the gold standard treatment for ischemic stroke. It works by dissolving the blood clot that is blocking blood flow to the brain, thereby limiting brain damage.

However, this treatment must be administered within 3 hours of the initial stroke symptoms, and a lot of patients do not get to the hospital in time to receive it.

As such, there is a need for new treatments that can help to reduce the cognitive damage caused by ischemic stroke. Fang and colleagues investigated whether ginkgo biloba extract could be a possible candidate.

Ginkgo biloba extract and stroke

Ginkgo biloba extract is an herbal supplement that derives from the ginkgo tree, or the maidenhair tree, which is native to China.

It has been used in medicine for thousands of years, from healing wounds to alleviating anxiety and depression. That said, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) claim that there is "no conclusive evidence that ginkgo is helpful for any health condition."

The new study, however, suggests that it might be helpful for individuals who have experienced ischemic stroke.

To reach their findings, Fang and team enrolled 348 adults from five hospitals in China Jiangsu Province. The adults were aged 64, on average, and they had all experienced ischemic stroke within the past 7 days.

The subjects were divided into two groups. One group received 450 milligrams of ginkgo biloba extract and 100 milligrams of aspirin every day for 6 months, while the other group received 100 milligrams of aspirin only. Aspirin is often used in stroke treatment and prevention, as it can stop blood from clotting.


The researchers note that the ginkgo biloba extract used in their study consisted of fewer harmful chemicals and more protective chemicals than EGb761, which is a form ginkgo biloba extract that has been used in previous research.

At study baseline and at 12, 30, 90, and 180 days later, all participants completed a test called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment score (MoCA), which was used to assess their cognitive functioning.

Combined therapy better than aspirin alone

The final analysis included a total of 330 participants, as 18 subjects dropped out during the 6-month study period.

Compared with participants who received aspirin only, those who received ginkgo biloba extract plus aspirin had higher MoCA scores at all assessment points, particularly for memory and executive function.

Also, at 12 and 30 days after treatment, participants treated with both ginkgo biloba extract and aspirin demonstrated better functional capacity than those who received aspirin only, indicating fewer neurological impairments such as speech problems and muscle weakness.

The scientists found no differences in vascular events between subjects treated with ginkgo biloba extract plus aspirin and those treated with aspirin only, and the combination treatment led to few side effects.

Commenting on their study results, the researchers write:

‘The study demonstrated that patients with stroke who received GBE [ginkgo biloba extract] and aspirin manifested better memory function, executive functions, neurological function, and daily life. Additionally, the safety data analysis demonstrated that GBE did not increase the incidence of adverse events."

Fang and colleagues admit that there are some limitations to their study. For example, it was not double-blind, meaning that the researchers and participants knew which treatments they were receiving. This could have affected the results.

Additionally, they note that the follow-up period was short, and that further studies are needed to assess the long-term effects of ginkgo biloba extract among people who have had a stroke.



Li S, Zhang X, Fang Q, et al

Ginkgo biloba extract improved cognitive and neurological functions of acute ischaemic stroke: a randomised controlled trial

Stroke and Vascular Neurology 2017;svn-2017-000104. doi: 10.1136/svn-2017-000104



Medical News Today

Vitamin D deficiency could be linked to depression in adults

Vitamin D deficiency could be linked to depression in adults

A new study has found an association between vitamin D
deficiency and insufficiency and an increased risk of ...

COVID-19 - Becoming part of the solution (Part 10)

COVID-19 - How to be happy in challenging times (Part 9)

Green tea and coffee lower risk of death in people with type 2 diabetes

Green tea and coffee lower risk of death in people with type 2 diabetes

New research suggests that drinking lots of coffee and green
tea correlates with a lower risk of death from any cause ...

Can the common cold help protect you from COVID-19?

Meditation for mind-control


In a retrospective case study, Mayo Clinic researchers have found that antibiotics administered to children younger than 2 are associated with several ongoing illnesses or conditions, ranging from allergies to obesity.

New research from the University of South Australia shows that excess egg consumption can increase your risk of diabetes.

A team of researchers for the first time has found a correlation between the levels of bacteria and fungi in the gastrointestinal tract of children and the amount of common chemicals found in their home environment.

A new study has shown significant increases in sedentary behaviour, a reduction in physical activity levels, and an increase in anxiety and weight gain throughout the COVID-19 lockdown measures implemented earlier this year. The results were particularly significant in people with obesity.

The COMPLEMENTARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (The CMA) © 2012. No part of this site may be reproduced without the express permission of The Complementary Medical Association. If used without prior consent a charge of US $1,000 per article, or mini section is paid (US $50 per word (minimum) will be charged. This is not meant to reflect a commercial rate for the content, but as a punitive cost and to reimburse The CMA for legal fees and time costs). Use of the contents, without permission will be taken as consent to bill the illegal user in full.