GinkgoRaynaud's Disease

Ginkgo biloba vs nifedipine to treat Raynaud’s disease

Raynaud’s disease causes some areas of the body (fingers, toes, tip of the nose and ears) to feel numb and cool in response to cold temperatures or stress. During a Raynaud’s attack, the arteries become narrow and limit blood flow to affected areas.

During the American Academy of Family Physicians 2007 Annual Scientific Assembly Ginkgo biloba was reportedly less effective than the calcium channel blocker nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia).

First, the details as reported on Medscape.

  • 134 adults with Raynaud’s disease were randomly assigned to treatment with either nifedipine SR (sustained release) or the Ginkgo biloba extract.

And, the results.

  • Only 64 patients completed the study.
  • The percentage change in the attack rate after 8 weeks of treatment was 50% with nifedipine vs 31% with Ginkgo biloba.
  • Improvement rate was more rapid with nifedipine.
  • Thermographic assessment revealed that nifedipine “prevented the reduction of blood flow and contributed to recovery of blood flow after cold challenge in patients with Raynaud’s disease significantly more effectively than ginkgo.”
  • Both agents were well tolerated without serious adverse events.

The bottom line?
It’s not explained why so many people dropped out of this study, or if they were skewed toward one treatment group. The doses were also not revealed in the article. Both points make it difficult to compare these finding to an earlier positive study of Ginkgo biloba.

Published in 2002, researchers from the UK reported a significantly greater reduction (56%) in attacks with Ginkgo biloba extract (Seredrin) vs placebo (27%).

After reviewing the poster, Dr. Beth Boyer Vehre, a family physician from Greenville, Ohio concluded, “If the patient felt strongly about not using the nifedipine, I probably would tell them [ginkgo] is something you could use, but it’s not as effective.”

OK, but there are also side effects, drug interactions, warnings, cautions, and contraindications related to the use of nifedipine to consider. reviews Raynaud’s disease here. For balance, has a review of Ginkgo biloba here.

10/12/07 20:44 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.