Study says experiments on animals have shown that an extract of ginkgo biloba can help reduce one common and hard-to-treat type of pain.
Ginkgo is one of the most popular herbal products, which is widely used as a memory enhancer, among other purposes.
Dr. Yee Suk Kim, a researchers at The Catholic University of Seoul in South Korea, performed experiments in rats to evaluate the effectiveness of ginkgo against neuropathic pain, a common pain problem associated with herpes zoster, limb injury, or diabetes.
Those suffering from this problem may feel severe pain in response to harmless stimuli like heat, cold, or touch.
During the study, the researchers treated rats with neuropathic pain with different doses of a standardized ginkgo biloba extract or with an inactive solution.
The team performed objective tests to see how ginkgo affected neuropathic pain responses to cold and pressure.
The researchers observed that for both cold and pressure stimuli, pain responses were significantly reduced in ginkgo-treated rats.
According to them, this was so on before-and-after treatment comparisons and on comparison of ginkgo-treated versus placebo-treated animals.
Pain was reduced for at least two hours after ginkgo treatment, the researchers reveal.
Even thought the study has not provided any evidence on how ginkgo works to reduce pain, the researchers think that several mechanisms are possible, including antioxidant activity, an anti-inflammatory effect, or protection against nerve injury-perhaps in combination.
The new study provides the first scientific evidence that ginkgo has a real effect in reducing neuropathic pain.
It attains significance considering that new treatments are needed for neuropathic pain, which does not always respond well to available treatments.
The study has been published in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia.