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28-1-2010 | Ginkgo biloba may increase seizures in people with epilepsy

28 January 2010
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German researchers have claimed that people with epilepsy should avoid the herb Ginkgo biloba as it may increase their risk of seizures.

Scientists from the University of Bonn undertook a review of previous studies on the herb and identified ten studies in which people with epilepsy were found to be at an increased risk of seizures while taking the popular herbal medicine. Their study was published in the Journal of Natural Products.

Pills, teas, and other products prepared from leaves of the Ginkgo tree are used to treat a wide array of health problems including Alzheimer's disease and other memory loss, clinical depression, headache, irritable bladder, alcohol abuse, blockages in blood vessels, poor concentration, and dizziness.

Research suggests that a chemical compound in the herb called ginkgotoxin may alter a chemical signalling pathway to trigger seizures and that it may also reduce the effectiveness of anti-seizure drugs. Some scientists have called for its use to be restricted.

The authors write 'It is important that the large number of G. biloba product users and their healthcare providers be made aware of these risks, in order to enable them to make informed decisions about the use of these preparations.'

While this study does not provide definitive proof that the herb had been the cause of the increase in seizures in the reported cases, people with epilepsy should be aware about the possibility.

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