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Product Review:
Gingko Biloba

Background:  Ginkgo biloba has become a widely used dietary supplement for increasing cognitive functions in elderly people, delaying the progression of Alzheimer's disease, increasing blood flow to the legs, treating tinnitus (ringing in the ear) of a circulatory origin, as well as treating depression and asthma. It is an extract of the leaf of the Ginkgo biloba tree that is used in dietary supplements.
The Ginkgo biloba extract, or GBE, used in most clinical trials contains specific types of naturally occurring chemicals: Flavonol glycosides, of which there are three, are believed to confer anti-oxidant activity; Terpene lactones, of which there are two categories, may be responsible for the dilatory effect on blood vessels. Each of these chemicals is expected to exist in a specific amount in clinical quality GBE, representing a standard for assessing ginkgo products. Many GBE products now claim to be "standardized" or manufactured to contain specific total amounts of flavonol glycosides and/or total terpene lactones.
Currently, there is no government monitoring of the manufacture of Ginkgo biloba or other dietary supplements in the U.S. There have been numerous independent reports of dietary supplements not containing their stated ingredients. In order to identify products containing GBE of quality most similar to that used in clinical trials, ConsumerLab.com purchased and tested leading Ginkgo biloba products in the U.S.
Testing & Results:  ConsumerLab.com purchased thirty leading brands of Ginkgo biloba during August 1999. These products were then tested to determine whether or not they possessed proper amounts of appropriate plant chemicals.
Nearly one quarter of the thirty brands tested did not have
the expected levels of chemical marker compounds for GBE.
Among these, all had less than adequate levels of one of one or more terpene lactones, and three also lacked adequate levels of one or more flavone glycosides. Even though they did not pass the testing, all bore labels claiming standardization for total flavone glycosides and most also indicated being standardized for total terpene lactones. Some of these labels were actually correct for total amounts of compounds but the products did not meet the standards for one or more specific compounds.
Examples of some of the products that passed review are:

(Listed in order of Product Name, Labeled Concentration of Ginkgo Biloba Extract Per Pill, and  Manufacturer and/or Distributor)
Ginkgo Biloba and DHA, 53.3 mg/softgel*  Nutrilite (Access Business Group International LLC (formerly Amway)
Ginkgolidin, Ginkgo Biloba Standardized Extract, 40 mg/ capsule*  PhytoPharmica
Enzymatic Therapy, Ginkgo Biloba 24%, 40 mg/capsule*  Enzymatic Therapy
NOW Ginkgo Biloba 24% Standard Extract, 60 mg/capsule*  NOW Foods
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