The truth about ginkgo: Health risks of the brain-boosting herb

Many thousands of Britons rely on vitamins and herbal supplements for protection against the ravages of ageing.

Opinion has long been divided on whether such supplements can actually improve well-being - but now there is evidence that some could actually be damaging it. As the Mail reported last week, a new study has shown that ginkgo biloba, the popular Chinese herbal extract thought by many to ward off dementia, could increase the risk of stroke. Scientists investigating the ancient herb's brain-boosting properties discovered a higher rate of strokes in those taking it daily than among those who were on a placebo, or dummy pill. The findings have naturally raised alarm among the many Britons who take the herb.

In fact, last week's research is just one of several recent studies that have raised questions about supplements used to ward off age-related problems.

A study at Homerton University Hospital in London three years ago found cancer patients taking supplements such as cod liver oil and St John's Wort (dubbed "Nature's Prozac" due to its anti-depressant properties) risked dangerous side-effects from their interaction with anti-cancer drugs.

In fact, although this study highlighted cancer treatment, there is general concern over the risk of interaction between herbal supplements and medication. Patients are advised to seek their doctor's advice before using them.

But in some cases, there may be a direct health risk from the supplement involved.

Source - Daily Mail

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