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August 2014

Ginkgo Might Interact with HIV Drug

A recent report suggests that Ginkgo biloba might interact with efavirenz (Sustive), a drug that is used in the treatment of HIV.

Ginkgo biloba has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Today, it is one of the top-selling herbs in the United States. Ginkgo is used for the treatment of numerous conditions, many of which are under scientific investigation. While ginkgo is generally well-tolerated, there are concerns that it might increase the risk of bleeding in people who are taking blood thinners.

In a recent report received by Health Canada, a 41 year-old HIV infected man successfully undergoing antiretroviral therapy for 10 years experienced an increase in the amount of HIV present in his blood. It was determined that while he did not skip any medications, he was also taking omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, a multivitamin, flax oil, rutin, and a Ginkgo biloba product daily for the past 2 months. He was also reportedly taking horse chestnut as needed.

Once the Ginkgo biloba and horse chestnut products were discontinued and antiretroviral therapy were continued for one month, the patient’s HIV levels dropped again. The authors noted that due to a previously reported interaction between Ginkgo biloba and the drug efavirenz, it was believed that this was the cause for the rise in HIV levels.

The authors concluded that people with HIV/AIDS frequently take natural medicines in addition to their prescribed treatments. Therefore, it is important for healthcare professionals to remind their patients that there are potential interactions between natural products and HIV treatments. Anyone with HIV/AIDS should always report if they are taking any natural products to their healthcare provider.

For information about Ginkgo biloba, please visit Natural Standard’s Food, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  2. Health Canada information - Canadian Adverse Reaction Newsletter, Volume 24 - Issue 3 – July  2014.

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