Don't ignore interactions if using ginkgo

People's Pharmacy

February 27, 1996|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I have just seen an ad for ginkgo biloba on television. This herb is used to increase peripheral circulation and minimize Alzheimer's disease.

But what effect will it have when combined with other treatments? My main concern is Coumadin, the blood-thinner I take.

Ginkgo has several documented effects on the body. Among them is an ability to reduce the likelihood of blood to clot. Although we do not know of any documented interactions with Coumadin (warfarin), we worry about the possibility of hemorrhage.

Although research indicates that ginkgo can improve peripheral circulation, the studies of its effects on memory are inconclusive. Interactions with prescribed medicine are rarely listed on herbal labels.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert.

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