Studies on molecular mechanisms of Ginkgo biloba extract

Author(s): Smith JV, Luo Y

Abstract

In the past decade, interest by the general public in the use of herbal dietary supplements has risen exponentially. As throughout history, individuals are now turning to the use of "natural" therapies for the prevention, treatment and cure of almost every ailment and aging malady imaginable. often without substantial proof of safety or efficacy. One of the most popular herbal supplements is Ginkgo biloba extract, taken for its perceived "memory enhancing" properties. Given the inordinate popularity, growing use, and substantial number of pharmaceutical products containing G. biloba, coupled with demands for product safety and "hard evidence," science has followed this trend closely with an ever-expanding body of pharmacological and clinical data on such preparations. Claims that standardized G. biloba extract (EGb 761) can modulate the cellular environment of an organism under both physiological and stress conditions may be attributed to its multivalent or totipotent properties, and can now be substantiated by the availability of modern molecular techniques. As opposed to pharmacologically manufactured or synthetic drugs, which provide a single target for a single receptor as the mechanism of action, EGb 761 is able to up- or down-regulate signaling pathways, gene transcription, cellular metabolism, etc., and thus assist in the regulation of the general physiological status of the cell and/or organism in response to stressors posed by both intracellular and extracellular conditions. Presumably, this is one of the biggest advantages of using natural products for the prevention and treatment of infirmity, as well as the maintenance of health in an organism.

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