Ginkgo extract and colitis inflammation


ginkgoA well-crafted study from China examined the role that Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE, the good-ol’-24% flavoglycosides stuff) can play in the guts of rats poisoned with a substance that induces severe inflammation and remodeling of the GI-tract lining. Pretty weird conditions for a plant to work under, and a fairly concentrated, drug-like preparation of the plant itself: nevertheless, the study shows that inflammation is substantially reduced and tissue is healed. There are some interesting microscopic images of the epithelium of the rats’ large bowels, and the changes induced by the GBE are clearly visible. There are also detailed analyses of the various types of inflammatory markers (NF-κB, TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6) presented both histologically and as Western Blot data.

My opinion: this animal study isn’t enough to draw any conclusion about how a Ginkgo extract might affect humans with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. What it does show me is that a flavo-glycoside (the joining of a flavonoid and a sugar) has anti-inflammatory activity even after passing through a digestive process (granted, a rat’s belly works very differently from mine). This continues the trend that flavonoid research has been showing: cellular processes can be altered towards healthier expression, longer life, and a reduction of both extra- and intra- cellular markers of inflammation (the interleukins, and NF-κB, TNF-α, for example). But you don’t necessarily need GBE to accomplish this: there are plenty of flavonoids and flavo-glycosides in almost all colorful fruits and vegetables.

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