New research has shown that patients could protect the brain against the effects of a stroke by taking Ginkgo supplements.
A study at the Johns Hopkins Institutions in Baltimore, Maryland, found that the plant extract reduced stroke damage in mice by 50%.
Study leader Dr Sylvain Dore said: "Our results suggest that some element or elements in Ginkgo actually protect brain cells during stroke.
"If further work confirms what we've seen, we could theoretically recommend a daily regimen of Ginkgo to people at high risk of stroke as a preventive measure against brain damage."
Supplements containing extracts from the Ginkgo biloba, a tree native to China, are widely available from health food shops and chemists and are used to enhance memory and concentration.
Dr Dore's team treated mice with seven daily doses of laboratory formulated Ginkgo before inducing strokes in the animals. They were then tested for brain function and damage, with the results showing that treated mice had half as much neurological dysfunction than untreated mice.
Dr Dore said: "It's still a large leap from rodent brains to human brains but these result strongly suggest that further research into the protective effects of Ginkgo is warranted."