Ginkgo likely to aggravate seizures in epileptics

April 15th, 2010 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 15 (IANS) The use of Ginkgo biloba, a top-selling herbal remedy, should be restricted as growing scientific evidence shows it may increase the risk of seizures in people with epilepsy, according to a new study.
It could also reduce the effectiveness of anti-seizure drugs, it added.

Eating raw or roasted Ginkgo seed or drinking tea prepared from Ginkgo leaves may have harmful effects in other people too, the study said.

Eckhard Leistner and Christel Drewke note that consumers use pills, tea, and other products prepared from leaves of the Ginkgo tree to treat a wide array of health problems like Alzheimer’s disease and other memory loss, clinical depression, headache, irritable bladder, alcohol abuse, blockages in blood vessels, poor concentration, and dizziness.

Scientific concern focuses mainly on a chemical compound in the herb - a potentially toxic material known as ginkgotoxin.

Scientists reviewed scientific research on Ginkgo, and found 10 reports indicating that patients with epilepsy who take Ginkgo products face an increased risk of seizures.

They note that ginkgotoxin seems to alter a chemical signalling pathway in ways that may trigger epileptic seizures.

Further evidence showed that Ginkgo can interact with anti-seizure medications and reduce their effectiveness, a release of the American Chemical Society (ACS) said.

“Contrary to our own previous assumption, we are now convinced, however, that G. biloba medications and other products can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health condition,” the report said.

“It is, therefore, important that the large number of G. biloba product users and their health care providers be made aware of these risks, in order to enable them to make informed decisions about the use of these preparations,” it added.

The article appears in ACS’ monthly Journal of Natural Products.

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