Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE), a traditional natural herbal product, is often used in the treatment of essential hypertension (EH) as complementary therapy in China and European countries.
AIM: To critically assess the current clinical evidence of efficacy and safety of GBE for EH.
METHODS: 7 electronic databases (Cochrane Library, PubMed, EMBASE, VIP, CBM, Wanfang data, and CNKI) were searched to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of GBE for EH. Methodological quality was assessed independently using the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.
RESULTS: A total of 9 RCTs with 1012 hypertensive patients were identified and reviewed. Most RCTs were of high risk of bias with flawed study design and poor methodological quality. 6 trials demonstrated potential positive effect of GBE as complementary therapy on BP reduction when compared with antihypertensive drug therapy; however, it was not associated with a statistically significant effect on both SBP and DBP reduction in 3 other trials. Despite the positive findings, there were so many methodological limitations and significant clinical heterogeneity. Most of the trials did not report adverse effects, and the safety of GBE is still uncertain.