Herbal Remedy Gingko Biloba May Increase Risk of Seizures

Ginkgo biloba may increase an individual's risk for seizures, according to a team of researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany.

Ginkgo biloba may increase an individual’s risk for seizures, according to a team of researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany

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The research team has found 10 written reports that link gingko biloba to seizures, according to the news release. In particular, they found that ginkgotoxin, a chemical compound that is found in the herb, could alter a chemical-signaling pathway in the body that is linked to epileptic seizures. The toxin could also interfere with the efficacy of anti-seizure medications.

“We are now convinced, however, that ginkgo biloba medications and other products can have a detrimental effect on a person's health condition,” said the University of Bonn researchers.

Professor John Duncan, from the National Society for Epilepsy, commented on the findings, saying that they do not necessarily mean that restrictions must be placed on the use of the herbal remedy.

“We believe that some herbs, for example St John's wort, are linked to a higher risk of seizures, but there is still not a great deal of evidence about problems related to ginkgo,” Duncan said. “We would say that if someone who has epilepsy wants to take this remedy, they should simply be aware of the possibility."

A charity in the UK that is described by the BBC release as a “leading” epilepsy charity claims that the new findings about gingko biloba does not present “compelling” evidence, but that “care is needed” in regard to the herb.

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Findings from the University of Bonn were published in the Journal of Natural Products