Everything You Need to Know About Ginkgo Biloba
Scientific Name: Ginkgo Biloba (from the Ginkgoaceae family)
Any Other Names: Maidenhair Tree, Bai Guo (Chinese)
Primary Constituents: Bilobalides, Ginkgolides, Flavonoids
Country or Region of Origin: Native to China, Also Cultivated in France, South Carolina (United States)
Known Uses: Memory, Concentration, Circulatory and Blood Flow Issues, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-allergenic, Asthma, Dementia, Depression, and More
General History & Introduction
Ginkgo is one of the oldest trees on the planet, if not the oldest, with the first growing dating beyond 190 million years old (Chevallier, 2016). It has found its place in ancient, traditional Chinese medicine. Ginkgo’s medical and therapeutic uses have been well-researched in modern times as well. In fact, it is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in the Western world (Roland & Nergård, 2012). The leaves are typically turned into an extract which can be used to treat a variety of ailments and conditions. Some of these maladies include but are not limited to circulation and blood flow issues, asthma, allergies, weak bladder, incontinence, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, multiple sclerosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and even glaucoma (2016).
Nootropic Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba
Memory, Concentration, Brain Booster
Ginkgo Biloba has been used for thousands of years for its studied ability to improve memory, concentration, and overall brain function. A lot of the plant’s contributions in this realm can be traced to its benefits to cerebral blood flow and circulation (Chevallier, 2016). Improving cerebral circulation gives memory and concentration a giant boost (2016). Many studies have greatly outlined the plant’s ability to improve both short-term and long-term memory, and the cerebral circulation boost has a lot to do with the efficacy of such benefits (Balch, 2010). Some studies indicate an improvement to the peripheral circulation system, also promoting brain function and memory (2010). These same studies have backed up claims that Ginkgo can enhance concentration (2016). One holistic encyclopedia even suggests the herb can protect the brain (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998)
Ginkgo is known for its potent antioxidant effects, especially within the brain, cardiovascular system, and retina (Balch, 2010). The impressive flavonoid content within the plant boasts powerful longevity effects (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998). Due to these outstanding benefits to the body, the plant has been considered throughout Chinese holistic healing history as an anti-aging herb. They also respected the plant for its ability to improve the body’s resistance to the environment (1998). The antioxidant properties of Ginkgo Biloba are one of the reasons the herb is so popularly prescribed around the globe in the medicinal world (Beshara & Haynes, 2019). The potent antioxidant effects are also one of the reasons Ginkgo offers such positive effects in terms of improve cognitive function (Kaur et al., 2018).
Ginkgo possesses amazing anti-inflammatory properties, even being able to reduce inflammation where there is nerve tissue damage (Chevallier, 2016). This has especially proven helpful for multiple sclerosis patients. And that makes sense, since the plant provides enhanced blood flow to the central nervous system. It has even been suggested to strengthen and support nerve tissue (2016). Chinese medicine has long turned to Ginkgo for the anti-inflammatory effects its fruit and seed possess, often referring to it as a tonic for the body (Orr, 2014). Many recent studies are showing Ginkgo to have the ability to significantly decrease oxidative stress and reduce neuroinflammation (Kaur et al., 2018).
Ginkgo is well known for its ability to enhance circulation with numerous published empirical studies, even in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Balch, 2010). The leaves of the Ginkgo plant produce some of the plant’s most potent medicinal properties for improving circulation and blood flow (Chevallier, 2016). The Ginkgo leaves are usually extracted to make a strong tincture, liquid extract, or pill/tablet. And as previously mentioned, these extracts have especially been useful in improving cerebral circulation. The plant’s ability to inhibit the platelet activating factor (PAF), reduces the likelihood of a blood clot and stroke (2016).
Ginkgo Biloba is also a purported, natural treatment for erectile dysfunction. One study revealed that participants were experiencing more erections (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998). In fact, the erections were not just more frequent, but also improved in quality and duration. This is probably due to the herb’s ability to improve circulation and blood flow. Other studies revealed the plant’s ability to offset sexual dysfunction caused as a side effect of antidepressant drugs (1998). It is also worth noting that the plant is great at improving blood flow to the lower region of the body (Conkling & Wong, 2006).
Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Many Neurological Conditions
Truly, the jury is still out on how effective Ginkgo Biloba may be as a treatment for Alzheimer’s and Dementia, however, there are many clinical studies which have found a variety of positive benefits (Chevallier, 2016). Even this smaller collection of empirical data promoting the benefits of the natural herb for those suffering from neurological or brain-related conditions is encouraging. As previously mentioned, the herb’s ability to improve memory (2016) is most certainly useful for those suffering from memory loss due to age or a neurodegenerative condition. One recent study proved its substantial benefit to dementia patients (Balch, 2016). And the plant is even shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease altogether (2016).
As previously mentioned, Ginkgo Biloba can provide significant benefits to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998). The herb has been empirically proven to improve cognitive impairment and overall mental function in MS patients. It is able to improve attention, executive function, and memory performance (1998). There are even studies which purport that the herb has a positive effect on anxiety (Beshara & Haynes, 2019).
The seeds of the Ginkgo plant are commonly prescribed by Chinese medical professionals for issues with the urinary tract or the bladder (Chevallier, 2016). They are also brilliant for reducing wheezing and treating a general cough, although it is important to remember to remove the husk of the seed first, which only contains toxins and none of the plant’s useful constituents. The seeds also help reduce excess phlegm, treat vaginal discharge, and improve incontinence (as well as other bladder issues) (2016). In Ayurvedic practice, the herb was traditionally used to manage cholesterol (Orr, 2014).
There is a lot of research which indicates Ginkgo Biloba can be used to treat depression and with great efficacy (Chevallier, 2016). It has especially good antidepression effects on individuals over the age of 50, or patients who suffer from cerebrovascular insufficiency (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998). Recent studies have outlined the plant’s great ability to aide recovering stroke patients (Balch, 2010). It has also been used to treat hearing problems, macular degeneration, and impotence (2010). It is reasonable to argue that the Ginkgo plant is one of the most diverse holistic herbs on the planet.
Dosing and Usage Information
Although there are many ways to prepare the Ginkgo plant, a tincture or tablet is one of the most common methods for consumption. There are many high quality Ginkgo biloba extracts sold as dietary supplements, which usually suggest a dose of around 120 to 300 mg per daily pill. This is also the dosage noted as safe in most holistic resources (Beshara & Haynes, 2019).
It is worth noting that there are differences between preparation methods in terms of effects. The traditional preparation method of a tincture extract (using the leaves only), is the best administration method when using Ginkgo for poor circulation, blood-related issues, or asthma (Chevallier, 2016). Liquid decoctions of the seeds are the best way to use Ginkgo for wheezing, or treating a cough (2016). The capsule/tablet method (usually consumed as a dietary supplement) is best for memory loss and most of the other benefits the Ginkgo plant offers (2016).
A standardized extract of Ginkgo Biloba is normally 24 percent flavoglycosides and 6 percent terpene lactones (Conkling & Wong, 2006).
Although the plant does have the potential to create some unpleasant side effects, they are minimal and rare. Some of the side effects which have been reported in some studies include headaches, dizziness, upset stomach, constipation, tachycardia (fast heartbeat), and allergic skin reactions (Conkling & Wong, 2006).
Other Important Information
It is important to note that Ginkgo Biloba can create issues for persons taking anticoagulants (blood-thinning medication) or those who regularly take over-the-counter pain medication (Conkling & Wong, 2006). Although anyone who is considering adding a dietary supplement to their daily regimen should consult a physician beforehand, it is especially important for individuals on anticoagulants or OTC pain medicine to discuss Ginkgo with their doctors. It should also not be used by anyone who is about to undergo surgery or a dental procedure.
The Ginkgo plant is an extremely versatile herb, possessing the ability to improve seemingly endless conditions and ailments. The studies, empirical data, clinical trials, and other research have shown the plant to offer incredible benefits with almost no side effects. The side effects which do exist are minimal, trivial to say the least. In terms of treating neurological, neurodegenerative, or circulation issues, the plant is unbelievable and well-revered across the globe. Ginkgo is one of the most popular nootropic herbs for improving mental response times and memory, and maximizing learning potential (Orr, 2014). To summarize, Ginkgo Biloba is a powerful and capable nootropic worthy of a place in nearly any nootropic stack.
A Note from NooFiles
This article is intended to be used for information only. We want to remind you that consulting your physician is recommended before adding any dietary supplement of any kind to your daily regimen.
Balch, P. (2010). Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Fifth Edition. Avery Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-58333-400-3
Beshara, J., Engle, D., and Haynes, K. (2019). Beyond Coffee. Monocle Publishing. ISBN 9781544505459
Chevallier, A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. DK Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-4654-4981-8
Conkling, W. and Wong, D. (2006). The Complete Guide to Vitamins and Supplements: The Holistic Path to Good Health. Avon Health Publishing. New York, NY. ISBN: 978-0-06-076066-3.
Kaur, S., Sharma, N., Nehru, B. (2018). Anti-inflammatory effects of Ginkgo biloba extract against trimethyltin-induced hippocampal neuronal injury. Inflammopharmacology. Vol. 26(1). Pp. 87-104. DOI: 10.1007/s10787-017-0396-2
Murray, M., and Pizzorno, J., (1998). The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Third Edition. Atria Paperback. ISBN 978-1-4516-6300-6
Orr, S. (2014). The New American Herbal. Clarkson Potter Publishers. New York, New York. ISBN 978-0-449-81993-7
Roland, P. and Nergård, C. (2012). Ginkgo biloba–effekt, bivirkninger og interaksjoner [Ginkgo biloba–effect, adverse events and drug interaction]. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. Vol. 132(8). Pp. 956-9. Norwegian. DOI: 10.4045/tidsskr.11.0780