Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
 Open access journal indexed with Index Medicus & ISI's SCI  
Users online: 15957  
Home | Subscribe | Feedback | Login 
About Latest Articles Back-Issues Articlesmenu-bullet Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe Etcetera Contact
 ::  Similar in PUBMED
 ::  Search Pubmed for
 ::  Search in Google Scholar for
 ::  Article in PDF (209 KB)
 ::  Citation Manager
 ::  Access Statistics
 ::  Reader Comments
 ::  Email Alert *
 ::  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free) 

  IN THIS Article
 ::  References

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded27    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 5    

Recommend this journal


  Table of Contents     
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 221

Ginkgo biloba: An ancient tree with new arrhythmic side effects

Department of Cardiothoracic and Respiratory Sciences, Chair of Cardiology, Second University of Naples

Date of Web Publication22-Sep-2011

Correspondence Address:
V Russo
Department of Cardiothoracic and Respiratory Sciences, Chair of Cardiology, Second University of Naples

Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0022-3859.85214

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Russo V, Rago A, Russo G M, Calabṛ R, Nigro G. Ginkgo biloba: An ancient tree with new arrhythmic side effects. J Postgrad Med 2011;57:221

How to cite this URL:
Russo V, Rago A, Russo G M, Calabṛ R, Nigro G. Ginkgo biloba: An ancient tree with new arrhythmic side effects. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2011 [cited 2023 Sep 24];57:221. Available from:

A 35-year-old woman presented to our observation complaining of frequent nocturnal palpitations which subside after few minutes. Her body weight was 75 kg and her height was 170 cm. Physical examination revealed a blood pressure of 130/80 mmHg, clear lungs and normal heart sounds. Electrocardiographic (ECG) examination showed sinus rhythm of 80 beats/minute without conduction abnormalities or ST-T changes. Neither chest X-ray nor Doppler echocardiography revealed any cardiac structural or functional abnormalities. Hematological examination, urinary analysis and thyroid function were all normal. She had no past medical history and denied taking any medications. She reported a recently increased coffee intake (five cups daily). We suggested to suspend coffee assumption and to undergo 24 h-Holter ECG monitoring which showed four nocturnal episodes of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. At the following visit, her husband mentioned that she was taking Ginkgo biloba leaf extract (240 mg/day), as general tonic, for the previous 2 months. We suspected a pro-arrhythmic effect of Ginkgo biloba and the drug was discontinued. After stopping Ginkgo biloba, the patient's condition markedly improved and the following repeated 24 h ECG Holter did not show any arrhythmias over the next 12 months. A pro-arrhythmic effect of Ginkgo biloba in our patient is been strongly suggested by the temporal coincidence of atrial instability and Ginkgo biloba intake, and by the absence of any atrial fibrillation trigger. The complete symptoms resolution and the disappearance of atrial fibrillation episodes within days after Ginkgo discontinuation is in line with its pharmacokinetic.

To date, little is known about the association between Ginkgo and arrhythmias. Cianfrocca et al.[1] described a possible association between Ginkgo biloba and frequent ventricular arrhythmias in a healthy 49-year-old man. Pfister et al.[2] reported a case of Ginkgo biloba induced electrical storm in old patient with ischemic cardiomyopathy. As per our knowledge, this is the first report to hypotize the association between the use of Ginkgo biloba and paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Previous experimental studies [3],[4] support our clinical hypothesis by showing distinct effects of Ginkgo biloba and its constituents on action potential duration and cationic currents in rodent ventricular myocytes. Alteration of action potential duration facilitates the generation of reentry circuits that constitute the electrophysiological substrate for atrial fibrillation. [5] The possibility that Ginkgo biloba might favor atrial arrhythmias has been raised by Kubota et al. investigation [4] which showed positive chronotropic and inotropic actions in rat-isolated atria. We are aware that the relation between Gingko biloba and atrial fibrillation is anecdotal, but we trust that herbal medications use should be specifically asked in the pharmacological anamnesis of arrhythmological evaluation. Since the herbal preparation Ginkgo biloba leaf extract is promoted as a remedy for a wide range of conditions, further studies are necessary to assess the relationship between Gingko biloba use and arrhythmias.

 :: References Top

1.Cianfrocca C, Pelliccia F, Auriti A, Santini M. Ginkgo biloba-induced frequent ventricular arrhythmia. Ital Heart J 2002;3:689-91.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Pfister O, Sticherling C, Schaer B, Osswald S. Electrical storm caused by complementary medication with Ginkgo biloba extract. Am J Med 2008;121:e3-4.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Satoh H. Comparative electropharmacological actions of some constituents from Ginkgo biloba extract in guinea-pig ventricular cardiomyocytes. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2004;1:277-84.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Kubota Y, Umegaki K, Tanaka N, Mizuno H, Nakamura K, Kunitomo M, et al. Safety of dietary supplements: Chronotropic and inotropic effects on isolated rat atria. Biol Pharm Bull 2002;25:197-200.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Misier AR, Opthof T, van Hemel NM, Defauw JJ, de Bakker JM, Janse MJ, et al. Increased dispersion of "refractoriness" in patients with idiopathic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. J Am Coll Cardiol 1992;19:1531-5.  Back to cited text no. 5

This article has been cited by
1 Ginkgo biloba: A Treasure of Functional Phytochemicals with Multimedicinal Applications
Noor-E-Tabassum, Rajib Das, Mashia Subha Lami, Arka Jyoti Chakraborty, Saikat Mitra, Trina Ekawati Tallei, Rinaldi Idroes, Amany Abdel-Rahman Mohamed, Md. Jamal Hossain, Kuldeep Dhama, Gomaa Mostafa-Hedeab, Talha Bin Emran, Harquin Simplice Foyet
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2022; 2022: 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Dietary Supplement Ingredients for Optimizing Cognitive Performance Among Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review
Cindy Crawford, Courtney Boyd, Patricia A. Deuster
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2021; 27(11): 940
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Ginkgo Biloba
Sami J. Natour, Sarah J. Goldberg, Evangelos A. Diamantakos, Janet K. Han
JACC: Case Reports. 2020; 2(6): 968
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Herbal Medicine for Cardiovascular Diseases: Efficacy, Mechanisms, and Safety
Abdullah Shaito, Duong Thi Bich Thuan, Hoa Thi Phu, Thi Hieu Dung Nguyen, Hiba Hasan, Sarah Halabi, Samar Abdelhady, Gheyath K. Nasrallah, Ali H. Eid, Gianfranco Pintus
Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2020; 11
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Ginko biloba may cause asymptomatic ventricular premature contractions!
SuryaKumar Dube, Charu Mahajan, Hemanshu Prabhakar, GyaninderPal Singh
Indian Journal of Anaesthesia. 2013; 57(6): 633
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Print this article  Email this article
Online since 12th February '04
© 2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow