Ginkgo biloba is a popular natural supplement used by many elderly people with epilepsy to help them improve their memory. But recent research shows that it could also put them at risk of seizures.
Dr. Andrew S. Granger of Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, writing in the journal Age and Ageing, said that there was a possible link between Ginkgo biloba and seizures, and that a warning should be given on the packaging of the drug.
Granger cited studies which showed the potential risk. In the first case, a 78-year-old man who had been seizure-free for 18 months experienced three seizures within 12 hours. He had started taking Ginkgo biloba on a daily basis two weeks before he was admitted to the hospital, having bought the drug over the counter to help treat his mild brain impairment.
A second case involved an 84-year-old woman with severe dementia who had not experienced a seizure in two years. She was prescribed Ginkgo biloba by her psychiatrist 12 days before having a seizure. The patient stopped taking the herb after she was admitted to the hospital, but she suffered three more seizures within the next two days.
In both cases, there was no evidence of an infection, stroke or any other possible cause for the seizures, other than the Ginkgo biloba, the report indicates. In addition, both patients remained seizure-free for eight and four months respectively after they stopped using the supplement.