Daily Doses of Ancient Chinese Herb Protects the Brain if You Have a Stroke

This Article is taken from the British Paper the Daily Mail
By Daily Mail Reporter
10th October 2008

Scientists have found that ginkgo reduces risk of brain damage after a stroke

Daily doses of an ancient Chinese remedy could help minimise the damage caused by strokes, say researchers. The scientists said ginkgo could eventually be routinely prescribed as a ‘preventive measure’.

The U.S. study by the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, published in Stroke Journal, showed that mice fed the extract for a week before an induced stroke had 50 per cent less brain damage.

Lead researcher Sylvain Doré said: ‘It’s still a large leap from rodent brains to human brains but these results strongly suggest that further research into the protective effects of ginkgo is warranted.

‘We could theoretically recommend a daily regimen of ginkgo to people at high risk of stroke as a preventive measure against brain damage.’

Previous research has found that ginkgo – used in Chinese medicine for more than 5,000 years – improves the circulation of blood, particularly to the brain.

In the study, researchers gave a laboratory-quality form of the extract ginkgo biloba to a group of normal mice and to a group of genetically engineered mice.
The second group lacked the gene to produce the enzyme HO-1. This would normally make cells respond to the beneficial effects of ginkgo.

Dr Doré and his team gave all the mice oral doses of ginkgo once a day for a week. They then induced a stroke in the mice by briefly blocking an artery to one side of the brain.

The Chinese have used ginkgo for 5,000 years to improve the circulation of blood to the brain

Results showed that the normal mice had 50 per cent less neurological dysfunction and 48 per cent smaller areas of brain damage than the genetically engineered mice which could not metabolise the ginkgo extract.

Dr Doré said: ‘Our results suggest that some elements or elements in ginkgo actually protect brain cells during stroke.’

The research team has speculated that ginkgo’s protective effects work by increasing levels of HO-1, stepping up antioxidant production and eliminating harmful free radicals at the site of the stroke.

However, previous research has suggested that ginkgo might slightly raise the stroke risk of some patients, probably due to its blood-thinning effects.

Joe Korner from The Stroke Association said: ‘This research is potentially interesting. However it was undertaken in a very artificial situation.’

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