SCMP Wednesday, November 15, 2000

Tests raise doubts about Ginkgo benefits


The Consumer Council said on Wednesday that recent tests have cast doubt on the clinical benefits of some Ginkgo leaf products.
The council and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) tested 14 samples of these products. The samples failed to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) requiements.
''All possess active ingredients either below or in excess of the standardised extract,'' said Paul But Pui-hay of the Institute of Chinese Medicine of CUHK.
He said the preparations of Ginkgo leaf extracts should be within the percentage range set by WHO. ''Otherwise, they may not be able to deliver the intended clinical benefits.''
Ginkgo biloba leaf was originated in the mainland. It is widely used to moderate symptoms such as memory deficit, depression, disturbance in concentration, dizziness and headache.
The herbal drugs, popular in Hong Kong, are also marketed to improve mental alertness.
Dr But said there was insufficient evidence to show whether excess active ingredients in the products were hazardous or delivered additional benefits.