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Scientific evidence that ginkgo biloba extract may support easing of hard-to-treat neuropathic pain

  [ 11 votes ]   [ 1 Comment ] • June 6, 2009

“As to how ginkgo works to reduce pain. Several mechanisms are possible, including antioxidant activity, an anti-inflammatory effect, or protection against nerve injury - perhaps in combination.”

An extract of ginkgo biloba shows scientific evidence of effectiveness against one common and hard-to-treat type of pain, according to animal data reported in the June issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia(1), official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society.

Dr. Yee Suk Kim and colleagues of The Catholic University of Seoul, South Korea, performed experiments in rats to evaluate the effectiveness of ginkgo against neuropathic pain, a common pain problem associated with herpes zoster [shingles], limb injury, or diabetes. Affected patients may feel severe pain in response to harmless stimuli like heat, cold, or touch.

Objective Evidence of Pain Reduction with Ginkgo

In the experiments, rats with neuropathic pain were treated with different doses of a standardized ginkgo biloba extract or with an inactive solution. Objective tests were performed to see how ginkgo affected neuropathic pain responses to cold and pressure.

• For both cold and pressure stimuli, pain responses were significantly reduced in ginkgo-treated rats

• This was so on before-and-after treatment comparisons and on comparison of ginkgo-treated versus placebo-treated animals.

• The higher the dose of ginkgo extract, the greater the pain-relieving effect.

• Pain was reduced for at least two hours after ginkgo treatment.

The study provides no evidence as to how ginkgo works to reduce pain. Several mechanisms are possible, including antioxidant activity, an anti-inflammatory effect, or protection against nerve injury - perhaps in combination.

Many herbs and "alternative" drugs are commonly used without prescriptions for a wide range of purposes, despite a lack of scientific evidence for health claims. Ginkgo, one of the most popular herbal products, is widely used as a memory enhancer, among other purposes.

The new study provides the first scientific evidence that ginkgo has a real effect in reducing neuropathic pain. New treatments are needed for neuropathic pain, which does not always respond well to available treatments.

"It's still too early to stock up on ginkgo biloba if you have chronic pain," comments Dr. Steven L. Shafer of Columbia University, Editor-in-Chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia. Many treatments that are effective in animals do not prove to be effective in humans, or prove to have unacceptable toxic effects when given to patients, Dr. Shafer reminds.

"However," he adds, "it is at least reassuring to know that scientists are investigating the properties of this ancient oriental herbal medication in an effort to determine what chemical constituents account for the many beneficial effects traditionally ascribed to it."
1. Citation: “The effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 on mechanical and cold allodynia in a rat model of neuropathic pain,” Anesthesia & Analgesia, Jun 2009, by Kim YS, et al.

Source: International Anesthesia Resarch Society news release, Jun 5, 2009

Note: This information has not been reviewed by the FDA. It is generic and is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any condition, illness, or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it with your professional healthcare team.

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Article Comments Post a Comment

Ginko Biloba and neuropathic pain
Posted by: lakotasu
Jun 19, 2009
Interesting article, but it would have been even more interesting if the amounts of ginko given the animals had been included as well as how that would correlate to humans. Basically, this article is useless. It's only subjecture at this point and gives those without clinical backgrounds false hope. It could even cause some persons to go out and buy, and then *take* large quantities of this herbal supplement in the hopes of healing their neuropathic pain, which, anyone who suffers from this problem knows is extremely difficult to treat and very miserable to live with. It is these types of articles I would like to see less of from ProHealth. Thank you. An RN who works in Pain Management and who also has FM, neuropathic pain, osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease.
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