Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Extract Among Adults with Peripheral Artery Disease

Extracts of the leaves of Ginkgo biloba trees have been used therapeutically for centuries in Chinese traditional medicine. EGb761 is a highly standardized purified extract of Ginkgo biloba leaves used commonly by physicians in Europe for treatment of PAD. It has been estimated that 2,000 tons of EGb761 are consumed yearly in Germany and France, and this amount is increasing. Consumption of a variety of commercially available Ginkgo products (often of uncertain standardization) is increasing in the United States.Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is due largely to atherosclerosis, causing narrowing of the arteries in the legs.  This results in impaired blood flow through the arteries causing pain or discomfort with walking. It afflicts at least 3 million Americans and is often undiagnosed and untreated. The available medications are few and not without side effects thus limiting their use. An extract from the Ginkgo biloba tree may provide a "cheaper and safer" alternative.This study is a three-year research project funded by the National Institutes of Health. The primary purpose is to examine the effect of Ginkgo biloba supplementation on peripheral artery diesease (PAD). It will provide data on:

  • Improvement in pain-free walking distance among adults with PAD
  • Potential mechanism(s) of action.

Eligible Participants

62 older adults (mean age 70 ┬▒ 8 years) with claudication symptoms of PAD were enrolled in this study.

Conclusions

After 4 months, Ginkgo biloba produced a small but insignificant increase in treadmill walking time and flow-mediated vasodilation. These data do not support the use of Ginkgo biloba as an effective therapy for PAD, although a longer duration of use should be considered in any future trials.

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