GinkgoRaynaud's Disease

Using ginkgo biloba to treat Raynaud’s disease

People with Raynaud’s disease experience cold and pain in their fingers, toes, nose, and ears when exposed to temperature changes or stress.

The World Health Organization recommends using ginkgo to treat Raynaud’s disease.

Actually, the scientific support for this recommendation is minimal –- just one positive study published in 2003.

First, the details.

  • Patients were randomly assigned to standardized ginkgo biloba extract (Seredrin) or placebo treatment for 10 weeks.
  • They recorded frequency, severity, and duration of attacks 2 weeks before and during treatment.
  • The abstract does not mention the number of patients studied or the dose of Seredrin.

And, the results.

  • The average number of attacks per day was significant less with ginkgo treatment (13) vs placebo (6) — a reduction of 56% with treatment vs 27% with placebo.
  • There were no differences in severity or duration of attacks.
  • There were no differences in blood flow between the two groups.

The bottom line?
In addition to ginkgo biloba, there are lots of complementary recommendations for treating Raynaud’s disease. Prescription drugs and surgery have been used also. In one study, ginkgo was less effective than nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia).

But first, remember that some drugs can worsen Raynaud’s by causing blood vessel spasms.

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine (Actifed, Chlor-Trimeton, Sudafed)
  • Beta blockers — used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease –- such as metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol), nadolol (Corgard) and propranolol (Inderal)
  • Birth control pills

2/18/08 18:13 J

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.