First look at ginkgo to prevent migraine

Researchers from Italy focused on women suffering from migraine with aura.

First, the details.

  • 50 women with migraine with typical aura, or migraine aura without headache were studied for 6 months.
    • 2 months of no treatment.
    • 2, 2-month periods of treatment
  • They received a combination product of 60 mg ginkgo biloba terpenes phytosome, 11 mg coenzyme Q 10, and 8.7 mg vitamin B2 (Migrasoll) taken twice daily.
  • Patients recorded neurological symptoms, duration, and frequency of migraine attacks during the study.
  • Migraine was diagnosed according to International Headache Society criteria.
  • There was no attempt to conceal treatment from the patients or researchers — open study.

And, the results.

  • The average number of migraine attacks significantly decreased during treatment.
    • 4 during the 2 months of no treatment
    • 2 during the first 2 months of treatment
    • 1 during the second 2 months of treatment
  • There was also a significant decrease in the average migraine duration.
    • 40 minutes during the 2 months of no treatment
    • 28 minutes during the first 2 months of treatment
    • 18 minutes during the second 2 months of treatment
  • Total disappearance of migraine was observed in 11% and 42% of patients during the first and second 2 months of treatment, respectively.
  • No serious side effects were reported.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded that “ginkgolide B, contained in the terpenic fraction of ginkgo biloba, is effective in reducing both aura frequency and duration.”

The authors also believe “It is very unlikely that this positive effect is the primary result of the other components contained in Migrasoll.”

A preliminary case is made in support of a mechanism of action for gingko that involves glutamate, anti-platelet activating factor (an anti-inflammatory effect), and free radicals.

It’s not clear why the researchers studied migraine with aura, since migraine without aura is more common and characterized by a higher frequency and greater likelihood of disability.

A PubMed search revealed no other studies of ginkgo to treat migraine or headache.

5/11/09 18:42 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.