Ginkgo biloba Linn and colchicine

Ginkgo biloba Linn. (Ginkgoaceae), has been used as peripheral vasodilator in traditional medicine. It is used in the treatment of tinnitus, dementia and intermittent claudication. Researchers identified a compound similar to colchicine in pooled placental blood. While tracing the origin of the compound, they examined blood samples of 24 women . Only five women showed the presence of colchicine and were consuming some herbal product (these were identified as Ginkgo and Echinacea products from local retail outlets). The ginkgo-based herbal products were found to contain significant amounts of colchicine. The authors of the study warned that consumption of ginkgo supplements by pregnant women may pose dangers to developing fetuses.

The findings about ginkgo were strongly criticized by several herbal experts and scientists. Some experts were of the view that the investigators misidentified a non-toxic ginkgo compound as colchicine. The ginkgo compound reportedly has a structure similar to that of colchicine and the researchers were not able to differentiate between the two. Further, a comprehensive review of the scientific data available on ginkgo never revealed the presence of colchicine in Ginkgo biloba.

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