Alternative Medicine

Ginkgo Biloba Blamed For Patient’s “Mood Dysregulation”

A case report published Monday in BMC Complementary And Alternative Medicine tentatively blames a patient’s sudden mood issues on doctor-prescribed Ginkgo biloba.

Ginkgo biloba is blamed for a middle-aged woman's mood dysfunction.

Did Ginkgo cause a woman’s mood problems? Her doctors think so.

The patient, who is identified in the case report only as “Ms. J”, has been under a doctor’s care for schizophrenia for more than 20 years. Now 50, Ms. J complained of what her doctors describe as “chronic cognitive discomfort” about a year ago. Her doctors initially tried an L-carnitine supplement and then switched her to choline alfoscerate. Neither product alleviated her concentration problems or her short-term memory issues.

The doctors then put Ms. J on a twice-daily regimen of 80 milligrams of Ginkgo biloba. Days later Ms. J began experiencing irritability, agitation and trouble controlling her anger. These were, she told doctors, issues she had never struggled with before. A couple of days after discontinuing the Ginkgo, she found her symptoms had disappeared. When she resumed taking it, her mood troubles returned. After quitting the product for the second time, she reported that the situation had once again resolved.

This case is especially interesting because it is believed to be the first documented case of Ginkgo causing mood issues. (A previous case involving Ginkgo and St. John’s wort is now blamed on the St. John’s wort.) It also conflicts with previous studies on Ginkgo, which seem to support its use as a mood stabilizer.

The medical team treating Ms. J speculate that the supplement interfered, somehow, with her hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, causing the symptoms. They are encouraging more study on the issue.

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Photos by Johnny McClung & Buzo Jesús on Unsplash