Ginkgo biloba extract is an alternative medicine available as a standardized formulation, EGb 761(®), which consists of ginkgolides, bilobalide, and flavonoids. The individual constituents have varying therapeutic mechanisms that contribute to the pharmacological activity of the extract as a whole. Recent studies show anxiolytic properties of ginkgolide A, migraine with aura treatment by ginkgolide B, a reduction in ischemia-induced glutamate excitotoxicity by bilobalide, and an alternative antihypertensive property of quercetin, among others. These findings have been observed in EGb 761 as well and have led to clinical investigation into its use as a therapeutic for conditions such as cognition, dementia, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular diseases. This review explores the therapeutic mechanisms of the individual EGb 761 constituents to explain the pharmacology as a whole and its clinical application to cardiovascular and neurological disorders, in particular ischemic stroke.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Ginkgo biloba; antioxidants; flavonoids; ischemic stroke.