Ginkgo remedies fail WHO standards

November 28, 2000 in Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Ginkgo remedies fail WHO standards

Some products containing the herbal remedy ginkgo biloba may fall short or exceed the World Health Organization's (WHO) specifications for ingredients, raising concerns that the products are ineffective or may possibly increase the risk of allergic reactions, according to a study conducted by the Hong Kong Consumer Council. Ginkgo biloba is marketed as a way to treat dizziness, headache, or memory and concentration problems.

A test of 14 samples from over-the-counter products showed that in 11 cases, the products did not contain all the active ingredients associated with Ginkgo biloba leaf extract as specified in standards set by the WHO.

The active ingredients of the Gingko biloba leaf are flavone glycosides and terpene lactones, including ginkgolides and bilobalide. These active ingredients are found in low levels in raw ginkgo leaf and the efficacy of the final product depends on all the active ingredients present in the specified, standardized proportions. Testing showed that one product did deliver the recommended level of active ingredients, but 13 other samples either had levels of ingredients that were too low or too high.

Levels of a possible allergen, ginkgolic acid, was also tested. In 13 of the products, the levels of the compound ranged from 16 to 733 times more than the WHO's recommendation.

The names of the 14 Hong Kong- and China-made products are: Sitailong Yinxingyepian, Nature's Own, Herbal Actives, Watson's Health and Fitness, Nature's Naturals, 21st Century, Ginkgo Plus, Bio-Organics, White Knight, Your Life, Kenbisha, Promod, Natural Nutrition and Tanakan.

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