Pharmaceutical quality of different Ginkgo biloba brands


Biocenter Niederursel, Department of Pharmacology, University of Frankfurt, Marie-Curie-Str. 9, Geb. N 260, 60439 Frankfurt/M., Germany. E-mail:


Ginkgo biloba-containing brands are one of the top sellers within the growing market for herbal remedies in many European countries as well as in the USA. In the consumers' interest, these brands should feature a certain quality and should be transparent in quality claims. In this investigation, a variety of products on the USA market was studied with respect to pharmaceutical quality, such as quantity of constituents and in-vitro dissolution. In terms of the content of active substances, flavone glycosides ranged from 24% to 36% and terpene lactones from 4% to 11%. With ginkgolic acids, there was a very large range, from < 500 ppm to about 90 000 ppm. Comparing the dissolution rates of terpene lactones and flavone glycosides within the single products, most were approximately the same. Thus, terpene lactones and flavone glycosides were released from these products and dissolved at the same rate in most cases. Furthermore, most of the products investigated released more than the required 75% of the content of both components within 30 min. However, several products showed clear and relevant differences in dissolution rates to the rest (e.g. < 75% within 30 min or even less than 25% after 60 min in one case, indicating much poorer pharmaceutical quality). Beside the comparability respectively standardisation of the extracts used, the in-vitro dissolution of the relevant constituents should be similar to other drugs to guarantee comparable in-vivo performance of herbal products. An important step in standardising pharmaceutical quality is the pharmacopoeial monograph for Ginkgo biloba extract in Germany, standardising the content of pharmacologically relevant substances (flavone glycosides 22–27% and terpen-lactones 5–7%, 2.8-3.4% ginkgolides A, B, C and 2.6-3.2% bilobalide thereof). Many of the investigated products, which refer to the German Commission E (of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medicinal Devices) monograph, are not in accordance with this specification. Thus, they can not be considered to be pharmaceutically equivalent.