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Ginkgo Biloba

Saturday, March 27, 2021 • 7 minute read

What is Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo biloba, also known as maidenhair, is a tree grown for thousands of years for a variety of uses. The plant is native to temperate Asia, but is now cultivated in Europe and the United States. The tree itself is the only surviving member of an ancient order of plants, it’s sometimes referred to as a living fossil. In traditional Chinese medicine, Ginkgo’s leaves and seeds are predominantly used. However modern research primarily focuses on ginkgo extract, which is made from the leaves, which has been associated with several health claims and uses, most notably in improving brain function and blood circulation.

What are the benefits?

There are many studies supporting Ginkgo Biloba’s beneficial use in fighting inflammation-specific conditions such as Arthritis and Heart disease [1], [2], where it also improves both cardiac circulation and health [3]. Ginkgo has been tested for its adaptogenic ability, with several studies suggesting it is effective in reducing anxiety, stress and other symptoms that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline associated with aging [4], [5].

The Ginkgo extract may also enhance brain function in healthy individuals, several studies have demonstrated Ginkgo extract’s Nootrophic effects by enhancing focus and memory attention [6], [7].

How does Ginkgo Biloba work?

The benefits of Ginkgo extract are due to the compounds contained within the supplement. The enhancement of blood flow and anti-inflammatory effects observed are all due to the extracts ability to inhibit inflammatory proteins and dilate vital blood vessels, improving circulation. [2], [3].

Its adaptogenic properties stem from the strong antioxidants it contains (similar to other adaptogenic supplements), which can act to reduce the oxidative stresses on cells within the body and work against their ageing by reducing the number of free radicles in their environment [8], [9].

The Nootropic behaviour associated with Ginkgo Biloba stems from its ability to inhibit nervous cell toxicity and cell death alongside regulating cortisol (messenger responsible for feeling of stress) [10], which might also play a role in Ginkgo's proposed anti-stress and neuroprotective effects.

How do you take Ginkgo Biloba as a supplement?

Ginkgo biloba is commercially available in many different forms from capsules to dried leaves for tea. Most of the current research reflects results used with purified Ginkgo extract, however, avoid raw Ginkgo seeds as they are poisonous to humans.

With the numerous studies conducted on the extract, taking 120–240 mg divided into several doses throughout the day seems to be the best way to experience the benefits of the supplement. Most research have not evaluated doses greater than 600 mg per day, so we suggest not breaching this dosage.

Are there any side effects?

For most adults, the risk associated with taking ginkgo is relatively low. The possible side effects of the supplement include mild diarrhoea, dizziness, stomach pain and allergic reactions. However, there are cases in which ginkgo could cause harm. If you are allergic to plants that contain alkylphenols or taking certain medications, we recommend not taking ginkgo.

Ginkgo has the potential to interact unfavorably with certain medications. As it improves blood flow and circulation interactions with blood thinners (Warfarin, aspirin), SSRIs/MAOIs/antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft), NSAIDS (Ibuprofen) could increase the risk of bleeding adversely. Please consult your doctor before considering to take ginkgo with any medication.

References

​[1]        W. Zuo, F. Yan, B. Zhang, J. Li, and D. Mei, “Advances in the studies of Ginkgo biloba leaves extract on aging-related diseases,” Aging and Disease, vol. 8, no. 6. International Society on Aging and Disease, pp. 812–826, 2017, doi: 10.14336/AD.2017.0615.

[2]        V. S. Kotakadi et al., “Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 has anti-inflammatory properties and ameliorates colitis in mice by driving effector T cell apoptosis,” Carcinogenesis, vol. 29, no. 9, pp. 1799–1806, 2008, doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgn143.

[3]        Y. Z. Wu, S. Q. Li, X. G. Zu, J. Du, and F. F. Wang, “Ginkgo biloba extract improves coronary artery circulation in patients with coronary artery disease: Contribution of plasma nitric oxide and endothelin-1,” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 734–739, Jun. 2008, doi: 10.1002/ptr.2335.

[4]        E. Savaskan, H. Mueller, R. Hoerr, A. von Gunten, and S. Gauthier, “Treatment effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761® on the spectrum of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials,” International Psychogeriatrics, vol. 30, no. 3. Cambridge University Press, pp. 285–293, Mar. 01, 2018, doi: 10.1017/S1041610217001892.

[5]        G. Yang, Y. Wang, J. Sun, K. Zhang, and J. Liu, “Ginkgo Biloba for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials,” Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 520–528, Oct. 2015, doi: 10.2174/1568026615666150813143520.

[6]        A. Cieza, P. Maier, and E. Pöppel, “Effects of Ginkgo biloba on mental functioning in healthy volunteers,” Archives of Medical Research, vol. 34, no. 5, pp. 373–381, Sep. 2003, doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2003.05.001.

[7]        J. A. Mix and W. D. Crews, “A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761® in a sample of cognitively intact older adults: Neuropsychological findings,” Human Psychopharmacology, vol. 17, no. 6, pp. 267–277, Aug. 2002, doi: 10.1002/hup.412.

[8]        D. K. Vaughan, N. S. Peachey, M. J. Richards, B. Buchan, and S. J. Fliesler, “Light-induced exacerbation of retinal degeneration in a rat model of Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome,” Experimental Eye Research, vol. 82, no. 3, pp. 496–504, Mar. 2006, doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2005.08.008.

[9]        S. Logani, M. C. Chen, T. Tran, T. Le, and R. B. Raffa, “Actions of Ginkgo Biloba related to potential utility for the treatment of conditions involving cerebral hypoxia,” Life Sciences, vol. 67, no. 12. Life Sci, pp. 1389–1396, Aug. 11, 2000, doi: 10.1016/S0024-3205(00)00741-4.

[10]       H. Woelk, K. H. Arnoldt, M. Kieser, and R. Hoerr, “Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761® in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial,” Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 41, no. 6, pp. 472–480, 2007, doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2006.05.004.