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Epilepsy warning on herbal remedy

2nd February 2010

People who suffer from epilepsy should be careful when taking ginkgo biloba, according to recent German research.

ginkgo

The research team found that the herbal remedy might increase people's risk of having an epileptic seizure.

For the purposes of the study, the research team collated 10 different studies about the herb's effect on epilepsy.

As for the ginkgo tree itself, it has been considered sacred by the Chinese for at least 1,500 years.

As a biological specimen, ginkgo's history goes back much further than other trees.

Like the so-called dragon's blood tree, also known in ancient times for its health benefits, the ginkgo tree is considered a living fossil, with preserved imprints of its leaves dating back to the Jurassic period.

Ginkgo biloba has been used by millions of people worldwide for problems related to memory loss, dizziness, and even Alzheimer's disease.

However, all ginkgo remedies contain a molecule known as ginkgotoxin, which the researchers believe must be responsible for reports of epilepsy seizures in ginkgo users.

The researchers said that ginkgotoxin probably acts on the same chemical signalling pathway that gets protected by anti-seizure drugs.

While the researchers could not prove that there was a definite link between epileptic seizures and ginkgo use, they said that herbal supplement manufacturers should begin to test their products for high levels of ginkgotoxin.

John Duncan, a member of the National Society for Epilepsy, said that his organisation believed that some herbs were linked to a higher risk of seizures.

He said that, however, there was still not much evidence to suggest that ginkgo caused seizures, and that people with epilepsy should simply be aware of the possibility that the herb might aggravate their suffering.

 

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Article Information

Title: Epilepsy warning on herbal remedy
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 13924
Date Added: 2nd Feb 2010

Sources

BBC News

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