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Ginkgo biloba linked to seizures

23 Jan 2002

Elderly people with epilepsy who, in addition to their epilepsy medication, take the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba, may be at risk of increased seizures.

Ginkgo Biloba is promoted as treating a wide range of symptoms, including dizziness, memory impairment, inflammation, and reduced blood flow to the brain and other areas of impaired circulation.

Writing in the journal Age and Ageing, Dr Andrew Granger of the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, reported on two cases studies.

Both studies, a 74 year old man and an 84 year old woman, had their seizures controlled by anti-epileptic medication.

The 78 year old man had been seizure-free for 18 months, but then had 3 seizures in 12 hours. Once admitted to hospital, it was discovered that he started taking ginkgo biloba 2 weeks previously.

In the other case, the 84 year old woman had severe dementia and had been seizure free for 2 years. Her psychiatrist prescribed gingko biloba and after 12 days she had been taken to hospital during a seizure.

Dr Granger commented:

"There needs to be more research into many of these 'health foods', and the public needs to be aware that many of them can have side effects or interact with drugs they are on. 

"Most importantly, people need to be encouraged to discuss all such products with their doctors before they start taking them.''