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, official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS).
Dr. Yee Suk Kim and colleagues of The Catholic University of Seoul, South Korea, performed experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of ginkgo against neuropathic pain, a common pain problem associated with herpes zoster, limb injury, or diabetes. Affected patients may feel severe pain in response to harmless stimuli like heat, cold, or touch.
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.
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