Can Ginkgo Biloba Cure Tinnitus?

What is Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo Biloba is a plant extract. It comes from a Ginkgo tree. Ginkgo tree is among one of the first living tree species. This tree existed for an estimated of 200 million years already.  Chinese have been using Ginkgo to treat different diseases for hundreds of centuries. They use Ginkgo Biloba to treat lung congestion and asthma. They also used it to regulate blood flow, to increase the sexual energy, to promote overall health and general longevity.

In the 18th century, Ginkgo Biloba was introduced to the European countries. Now, it is widely used around the world. Ginkgo Biloba ranks as one of the most studied herbs around the globe.

How it Works

Promotes good blood circulation, that’s a succinct way of putting what Ginkgo Biloba does. It does this by increasing the blood flowing into the brain and as well as in all the webs of blood vessels. Since these blood vessels are responsible for supplying oxygen and nutrients in every cells of the body, Ginkgo therefore ensures good health and promotes longevity in general. The 2 groups of components that actively work in Gingko Biloba are terpene lactones and flavonoids. Terpene lactones constitute the following: Ginkgolides A, Ginkgolides B, and Ginkgolides C, quercetin, bilobalide, and kaempferol.

The Ginkgolides are responsible in controlling attacks of allergic asthma and inflammation. Ginkgo Biloba is also a powerful antioxidant. It helps counteracts the effects of free radicals, which contributes to premature aging. The most distinguishing characteristic of Ginkgo is how it affects the functioning of the brain; it enhances memory, promotes mental alertness, and reduces mental fatigue and lethargy.

Since Ginkgo functions as an enhancer of the brain, those individuals who suffer Alzheimer’s disease greatly benefit from it. Healthy individuals can also benefit from Ginkgo because of its ability to promote increase brain function. Improper circulation of blood going to the brain which results to vascular deficiencies can also benefit from the Ginkgo Biloba extracts.

Ginkgo Biloba and Tinnitus

Since Ginkgo is used to treat cognitive deficits like poor memory function, reduced alertness, and decreased concentration, ginkgo was tested on patients suffering tinnitus. Tinnitus is a medical condition wherein a person hears a sound inside their head in absence of a real sound from their environment. Modern medicine would claim that tinnitus in itself is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying illness. Medical practitioners agree that most cases of tinnitus are a result of a deficiency of the blood going to the inner ear.

N. Holstein conducted a research in 2000 to prove that Ginkgo Biloba can indeed alleviate or heal tinnitus. His study involved an investigation of 19 scientific studies on the effects of Ginkgo identified as EGb 761. This is a special type of extract specially produced and patented. Holstein’s reason for restricting his research is that he didn’t want to compromise the quality of the extracts used in his study. According to him, most studies often meet problems when using plant extracts from different manufacturers. EGb 761 is a highly specialized extract of Ginkgo biloba dried leaves. The extraction process was patented.

Holtein’s methodology was to document all the scientific literature results of Ginkgo, specifically identified as EGb 761, with regards to its tolerability and efficacy. He requested the manufacturer to let him go through the results which were published by MEDLINE and EMBASE. He further narrowed his search into this category:

  • Those clinical inquiries wherein Ginkgo EGb761 was taken orally not less than two weeks and with a daily dose between 120-240 mg.
  • Those patients of tinnitus who have cerebral performance disturbance which is vascular in origin and those with inner ear malady.
  • It encompasses all study designs, including those reference-controlled and placebo trials and even those open studies.

After thoroughly inspecting the published clinical trials, he found out that 19 trials fell into the criteria which he set above. Eight of those trials were under a controlled condition while eleven was without reference groups. These trials all records that EGb 761 was administered on patients with subjective tinnitus. This means that their tinnitus was in no way measurable by any apparatus other than what the patient is claiming.

However, clinical assessment was done. Perception of noises before the treatment and their changes when under the treatment were rated on a scale basis. Holstein found out that the daily doses that were administered were between 120-240 mg and that their periods ranges from one month and last up to a year.

Holstein also took into account the three studies that didn’t fit his established criteria:

  1. the study that administered EGb 761 intravenously within 8 days,
  2. the study which has a therapeutic phases wherein intravenous treatment was given for 10 days,
  3. the study which has a daily dose way below Holstein search category such as 2×14.6 mg.

These are the results Holstein found out from his research from the archive of clinical studies:

a. Ginkgo EGb 761 vs. Placebo. Ginkgo EGb 761 did better clinically than those treated with placebo. In a study done by Schlag and Eckman, 12 patients were treated with Ginkgo and 20 patients were treated with placebo under the context of inadequacy of their cerebrovascular functions. These patients were further treated with Ginkgo for thirty days.

Patients treated with Ginkgo had their ear noises eliminated except for ten patients who were previously treated with placebo. This is considered as statistically significant by p=0.04. In a study done by Mangabeira Albernaz, Ginkgo was also proven to score better over placebo. In Albernaz study, those patients with an inner ear disorder who didn’t receive prior treatment were given either Ginkgo or placebo. There was an 82.1% improvement in patients treated with Ginkgo while only 42.9% improvement on placebo-treated patients. In a study involving patients with mild to moderate inadequacy of cerebrovascular functions, a decrease of ear noises was statistically noted over placebo by p=0.035.

b. Ginkgo EGb 761 vs. Vasodilators. Holstein compared results of Ginkgo to vasodilator Cinnarin. Eleven of the total 13 patients who were treated with Ginkgo showed mild to significant improvements of their ear noises. Only two of the 13 patients treated with Cinnarin only showed mild improvement. In another comparative, Nicergolin was the vasodilator used to compare to Ginkgo. The data showed that the group treated with Ginkgo showed clear improvement.

Holstein further conclude in his researches that Ginkgo (touted as EGb 761) is very effective and has high tolerability which is applicable for treating ear noises of various origin and varying length of duration that it has been suffered by patients.

More recent studies prove the positive effects of Ginkgo on tinnitus. In one research, a team composed of 10 French Ears, Nose, and Throat Specialist did a study on the efficacy of Ginkgo. They made a trial on two groups with 103 tinnitus cases. One group was given placebo and another ginkgo biloba. In the case of those given ginkgo, they were given 4 mL a day of Ginkgo extract for three months. Those given a dose of Ginkgo reported a decrease of severity of tinnitus symptoms.

Bierman and Morgenstern published together a trial that includes 99 patients suffering chronic tinnitus. These patients initially received a placebo treatment of 3×1 tablets of placebo a day for 2 weeks. Afterwards, these patients were randomly administered either Ginkgo Biloba extracts (3x 40 mg a day) or a placebo, for twelve weeks.

In this study, the Ginkgo products used were either tablets, injectable, or by drops. The types of dosage given to patient were different in every trial. The patients in the trials were classified as having persistent or chronic tinnitus. Their source of cause of tinnitus may also have been different. The treatment they received also differed between trials.

The target of the study is to determine if the loudness heard by the patient in their affected ear is reduced. The clinical results proved that the patients who received Ginkgo extracts responded positively to the treatment. The loudness of their tinnitus was significantly reduced compared to those who were simply given placebo.

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