Many of us are keen to make choices which have a positive impact on health, and there is always interest in alternative treatments. In glaucoma the most widely known alternative treatment is ginkgo biloba.
Glaucoma treatment largely focuses on lowering eye pressure. But it is accepted that other risk factors besides eye pressure are involved - even an ideal eye pressure does not stop glaucoma progressing for all people. If you are looking at the clinical studies, lowering eye pressure is the only treatment which has high levels of scientific evidence to support its efficacy. However there are many studies which have tried to identify other treatments for glaucoma.
Used in Chinese traditional medicine for centuries, extracts of ginkgo biloba leaves have been suggested to treat various conditions, including dementia, tinnitus, and circulatory problems.
For glaucoma different studies have shown that gingko biloba extracts (GBE) may have the following potential benefits:
1. Improved blood flow: Studies in humans have demonstrated improved blood flow near the optic nerve.
2. Neuroprotective effects: Studies have shown that mitochondrial function improves with ginkgo biloba.
3. Antioxidant effect: Ginkgo contains several different flavonoids, which have shown antioxidative properties by delivering electrons to free radicals. Compounds, such as vitamins E and C, also have antioxidative properties. The difference is ginkgo biloba extract flavonoids are able to act at the mitochondrial level.
4. Anti-inflammatory: Gingko has been shown to decrease reactive oxygen species.
Read more about the science in Glaucoma New Zealand’s fact sheet Glaucoma and Ginkgo Biloba.