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Gingko extract: a new and revalued hope for stroke?

Chronic cerebrovasculopathy is a disabling condition that is increasingly spreading among adults and the elderly. It is the general consequence of cardiovascular disease, often exacerbated by neglected hypertension or aggravated by diseases such as diabetes. It involves attention deficit, not congruous changes in mood and memory. It is also a fertile biological soil for ischemic cerebral strokes. To a patient with a clinical diagnosis of cerebrovascular disease, apart from antihypertensive and cardio-regulating therapy, the doctor may prescribe some supplements aimed at slowing down cognitive impairment. These may include nutrients for brain cells (acetyl-carnitine, lipoic acid, citicoline) and supplements in which plant extracts are present that can help the cerebral micro-circle (eg Vinca minor, Gingko biloba, etc.).

To recover the loss of thought or memory capacity lost as a result of a stroke, the extract of Ginkgo biloba could find a favor favor. This was discovered by Chinese researchers led by the Affiliated Drum Tower Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, published in Stroke and Vascular Neurology. The research involved 348 patients, divided into two groups: the first with results of cerebral stroke and one of control. The first took a daily dose of Gingko biloba extract along with 100mg of aspirin for six months after a stroke, the second only aspirin for the same length of time. The participants were followed for 12, 30, 90 and 180 days after the start of treatment, progressively evaluating in each of these time steps their functions of memory and thought. The results showed that those who took Ginkgo biloba extract had slightly better results in a number of tests starting 30 days after the stroke.

David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer of the Alzheimer’s Research Center in England, comments: “Numerous studies have already been published in the literature, which examined the effects of this herbal extract in people with post-stroke dementia, but no convincing evidence emerged of a benefit. It is not clear whether this depends on discrepancies typical of the studies, if the doses used were insufficient or otherwise. It is possible that the supplements based on this extract are actually underdosed, because it is known that they can come into conflict with simultaneous pharmacological treatments. More research on the subject can help to have a clearer idea of ​​possible Ginkgo benefits after a stroke. ” In fact, other anti-coagulants used in the cardiology field, interfere with platelet function (from cardioaspirin to Sintrom to Plavix, to mention the most common).

It is known that Gingko is a complex extract that has not only positive effects on cerebral circulation. It also has a good antioxidant action, because almost exclusively composed of polyphenols. In the case of ischemic neuronal damage, oxidative stress is a fundamental component of biological lesions, and therefore of clinical implications and of the patient’s psychic consequences. Therefore, apart from improving circulation and fluidizing the blood (Gingko polyphenols act on the platelets), the removal of free oxidant radicals is essential for the best recovery of the affected brain tissue. “However, until further studies are carried out, it must be borne in mind that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain,” adds research leader Reynolds. “So, no to excess calories at the table, yes to a balanced diet and a healthy weight, to keep physically and mentally active, no to smoking and to alcohol but in moderation”.

  • edited by Dr. Gianfrancesco Cormaci, PhD, specialist in Clinical Biochemistry.

Scientific references

Liu XG et al. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2018 Feb 5; 149:151-159. 

Demarin V et al. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017 Feb;13:483-90. 

Zhang X, et al. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Mar; 95(12):e2986.

Nabavi SM et al. Curr Top Med Chem. 2015;15(21):2222-32. 

Tan MS et al. J Alzheimers Dis. 2015; 43(2):589-603.

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Dott. Gianfrancesco Cormaci
Dott. Gianfrancesco Cormaci
Laurea in Medicina e Chirurgia nel 1998, specialista in Biochimica Clinica dal 2002, ha conseguito dottorato in Neurobiologia nel 2006. Ex-ricercatore, ha trascorso 5 anni negli USA alle dipendenze dell' NIH/NIDA e poi della Johns Hopkins University. Guardia medica presso la casa di Cura Sant'Agata a Catania. In libera professione, si occupa di Medicina Preventiva personalizzata e intolleranze alimentari. Detentore di un brevetto per la fabbricazione di sfarinati gluten-free a partire da regolare farina di grano. Responsabile della sezione R&D della CoFood s.r.l. per la ricerca e sviluppo di nuovi prodotti alimentari, inclusi quelli a fini medici speciali.

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