Extracts of ginkgo biloba are a popular natural supplement believed to enhance memory, but according to a new study it may also be beneficial against a common type of pain that is difficult to treat.
The research from the Catholic University of Seoul in South Korea focused on feeding the compound to rats to see how effective it may be against neuropathic pain often associated with herpes infections, limb injury or diabetes.
The results suggested that responses to cold and pressure pain stimuli were significantly reduced in ginkgo-treated animals, compared to those which received a placebo. The scientists also found a positive correlation between the dose of ginkgo extract and the pain-relieving effect.
In addition, the team was able to establish that pain was reduced for at least two hours after ginkgo supplementation.
Dr. Steven L. Shafer of Columbia University, editor-in-chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia where the study was published, said it was a good sign that scientists are researching the properties of the herb, which is part of the ancient oriental medical tradition, "in an effort to determine what chemical constituents account for the many beneficial effects traditionally ascribed to it."
Ginkgo biloba is a tree that currently occurs in the wild only in the northwest of Zhejiang province in eastern China, but its extracts are widely available in natural health stores in the West.