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Ginkgo biloba and stroke.

Q Is it true that the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba is helpful after a stroke? I'm wondering if I should get some for my husband, who is recovering from a stroke he had six weeks ago.

A A recent small study does suggest that ginkgo biloba may help stroke survivors. Among 384 seniors who suffered an ischemic stroke--the type caused by a blood clot--those who took ginkgo biloba extract alongside aspirin for six months had slightly better scores on a standard cognitive assessment than people who took aspirin alone. But the difference was so minimal (a 2.71 point decline in cognition compared with 4-point decline) it may not make any significant difference to cognitive function.

There are other weaknesses in the study, too. Ideally, studies that test drugs should be blinded, which means the researchers don't know who is taking the drug--but in this study the researchers were aware, and it's possible this may have biased the results. Plus, the follow-up was fairly short, which is a problem given that ginkgo biloba has several potential side effects and interacts with numerous medications (including the blood thinners many stroke survivors have to take). All-in-all, I would hold off giving the supplement to your husband--instead, discuss with his doctors how best you can both aid his recovery through lifestyle modifications and stroke-specific rehabilitation programs.

Judith Beizer, PharmD

Geriatric Pharmacology

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Title Annotation:ASK THE EXPERTS
Author:Beizer, Judith
Publication:Focus on Healthy Aging
Date:Feb 20, 2019
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