What Are the Benefits of Taking Ginkgo Biloba?
What exactly is ginkgo biloba? What are the benefits of taking ginkgo biloba? What is in ginkgo biloba, and is it safe? Are there side effects taking ginkgo biloba? Maybe you have heard some rumors that led you here, and you want to know if they are true, or not. Is ginkgo biloba good for memory? Does it help tinnitus? What else is ginkgo good for? We’re going to answer all of these questions.
What Is the Ginkgo Biloba Tree?
This hard to pronounce type of tree is also known as maidenhair tree (much easier to say). The trees are native to China and are as old as the world, itself. They are also the toughest dang tree ever. How tough are they? They survived the ice age. They carried on after the dinosaurs gave up. They survive through brush fires.
Proof of their strength and tenacity is sited on Wikipedia, which states: “Extreme examples of the ginkgo’s tenacity may be seen in Hiroshima, Japan, where six trees growing between half to one and a quarter miles from the 1945 atom bomb explosion were among the few living things in the area to survive. These six trees are still alive.”
These hardy trees have been cultivated in China for over 1500 years. Europeans first encountered them in 1690 in Japanese temple gardens. The trees were initially brought to the US in 1784 but were used for health benefits beginning in the 1950’s.
Ginkgo trees are huge, reaching a height of around 115 feet, some even reach 165 feet. Their leaves are made into an extract which is used as a dietary supplement.
Ginkgo Biloba Medicinal Uses:
The jury is still out on the effectiveness of some of the ginkgo biloba medicinal uses of this plant, so I will present both sides of the story, as they say.
- Ginkgo has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. The seeds, leaves, and nuts are used to treat dementia, asthma, bronchitis, and kidney/bladder disorders. Of course, modern medicine says the jury is still out. Not enough evidence as yet.
- Schizophrenia. Taking the extract by mouth daily in addition to conventional antipsychotic medications for 8-16 weeks can reduce some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Stroke. Ginkgo taken by mouth or IV, also combined with standard therapy, improves thinking, memory, and the ability to complete tasks. Alzheimer’s patients can also benefit.
- Vertigo. Taken by mouth, the leaf extract improves dizziness and balance.
- COPD. Ginkgo, included with a mixture of other Chinese herbs, is often used for this malady. Users have reported a considerable reduction in cough and bronchitis. It also relieves asthma symptoms.
- PMS symptoms are relieved, both physically and psychologically, by the consumption of ginkgo.
Is Ginkgo an Antioxidant?
- Headaches and Migraines can be relieved by ginkgo biloba. This is due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects as well as its ability to dilate blood vessels.
- Vision and Eye Health. People with glaucoma who supplemented with ginkgo experienced increased blood flow to the eyes. It is unclear if this would slow the progression of degenerative eye disease.
- Inflammation. Ginkgo extract has shown to reduce inflammation in arthritis, irritable bowel disease, cancer and heart disease.
- Anxiety and Depression.
Studies have shown that anxiety symptoms are reduced as the result of the antioxidant content of ginkgo.
- Brain Function. It has long been claimed that ginkgo improves brain function, including memory and mental clarity.
Ginkgo Biloba and Fibromyalgia
Does ginkgo help fibromyalgia sufferers?
When combined with Co-Q10, there is evidence of ginkgo biloba supplementation improving symptoms of fibromyalgia and the subsequent quality of life of fibro sufferers.
Possible Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects / Dangers:
There could be some side effects taking ginkgo biloba. If you are allergic to plants that contain alkylphenols or certain medications, ginkgo is a no-no. As well, it has the potential to interact with some medications such as blood thinners, antidepressants, and NSAIDS.
- Ginkgo is sometimes unsafe when taken by mouth during pregnancy, causing early labor or extra bleeding.
- Do not eat raw ginkgo seeds as they are poisonous.
What Is In Ginkgo Biloba?
There are really only two main medicinal compounds in ginkgo biloba. Flavonoids are what is in ginkgo biloba that is mostly responsible for its antioxidant properties. The other medicinal compound is terpenoids.
Studies have shown that flavonoids help protect the heart, blood vessels, nerves and the retina of the eye. Terpenoids also help to dilate the blood vessels and make the platelets less sticky, improving blood circulation.
How to Take Ginkgo Biloba | Best Ginkgo Biloba Supplements
Ginkgo biloba is sold as capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, or dried leaves for tea. Evidence supports the safety of taking 60-240 mg per day, divided into several doses for no longer than six months.
Caution: Quality issues are common with ginkgo products. Since the leaves are expensive and an extract requires a large quantity of them, cost-cutting is common. Low quality manufacturers often use cheaper ingredients like rutin and quercetin rather than ginkgo. These chemicals both occur naturally in ginkgo so when the sneaky devils add them to their product they look like ginkgo but do not have the same effect.
Side note – Watch for my future article on quercetin.
The Best Ginkgo Biloba Supplement
Pure Encapsulations Ginkgo 50 160 mg – 120 Capsules
Here are just a couple of the 5-star reviews at PureFormulas:
“This product really works. I wake up and have mental clearity through out the day!” -Devin L from Los Angeles on 4/29/2020
“…Recommended by Dr. for brain health. Ginkgo 50 by Pure Encapsulations noticeably keeps me sharp everyday. I highly recommend it. …Good value for the price, free shipping. Nice small capsule and the product really works. I feel sharp!” -Nancy from Tucson on 3/18/2011
I would say that there are far more benefits than drawbacks to ginkgo biloba, but in the end the decision is yours. In most instances it is perfectly safe and it would be up to you to find out whether or not it is effective. In my opinion, all those Chinese people who have been using them for centuries are on to a good thing.