Purpose: The optimal treatment of intermittent claudication has not yet been identified. Ginkgo biloba extract has been reported to have beneficial effects. We performed a meta-analysis of the efficacy of Ginkgo biloba extract for intermittent claudication based on the results of randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials.
Methods: Literature searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIOSIS, AMED, CISCOM, and the Cochrane Library were performed to identify studies on the topic. Manufacturers of commercial Ginkgo biloba products and authors of original publications and reviews were contacted to provide additional information. No language restrictions were imposed.
Results: Eight randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials were included. Meta-analysis found a significant difference in the increase in pain-free walking distance in favor of Ginkgo biloba (weighted mean difference: 34 meters, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 26 to 43 meters). In studies using similar methodological features (ergometer speed: 3 km/h, inclination: 12%) this difference was 33 meters in favor of Ginkgo biloba (95% CI: 22 to 43 meters). Adverse effects were rare, mild, and transient.
Conclusions: These results suggest that Ginkgo biloba extract is superior to placebo in the symptomatic treatment of intermittent claudication. However, the size of the overall treatment effect is modest and of uncertain clinical relevance.