Cochrane Summaries

Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.

Ginkgo biloba for people with leg pain while walking (intermittent claudication)

Nicolaï SPA, Kruidenier LM, Bendermacher BLW, Prins MH, Stokmans RA, Broos PPHL, Teijink JAW
Published Online: 
7 June 2013

The main symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is leg pain in one or both calves while walking. Typically, this pain occurs during walking and is relieved by a short period of rest. This clinical phenomenon is called intermittent claudication (IC). Peripheral arterial disease is caused by progressive narrowing of the arteries in one or both legs and is a manifestation of systematic atherosclerosis, possibly leading to cardiovascular events. Conservative treatment consists of treatment for cardiovascular risk factors and symptomatic relief by exercise therapy and pharmacological treatments. One of the pharmacotherapeutical options is Ginkgo biloba extract, which is derived from the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It is a vasoactive agent which is believed to have a positive effect on walking ability in patients with PAD. This review shows that people using Ginkgo biloba could walk 64.5 metres further, which was a non-significant difference compared with the placebo group. Overall, there is no evidence that Ginkgo biloba has a clinically significant benefit for patients with PAD.