Ginkgo Biloba: Health Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects

Ginkgo Biloba

For thousands of years, humans have cultivated Ginkgo biloba for its myriad of medicinal properties.

The plant helps to improve blood circulation, which can improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, treat ocular conditions and even ease anxiety.

More recently, Ginkgo biloba had gained popularity as a holistic treatment for cognitive deficiencies and mental impairments.

What is Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest known tree species alive today, with each plant capable living for thousands of years.

Humans have been using Ginkgo for its medicinal properties as far back as the 15th century, where it was popular in traditional Chinese medicine.

Nowadays, this living fossil is a top-selling over-the-counter herbal supplement in both the U.S. and Europe that is used to enhance memory and improve cognitive health.

Despite its booming popularity, Gingko Biloba is one of the less potent herbal supplements available on the market. Studies have shown that, at most, it only moderately boosts memory and cognitive speed in healthy adults.

Anyone with preexisting mental issues, such as dementia patients, show much more marked improvements in short-term memory and cognitive functioning when taking Ginkgo biloba [1].

Supplements are frequently used to alleviate symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and related forms of dementia, which can improve the daily quality of life for many aging adults.

The effects of Ginkgo biloba are similar to other herbal memory supplements such as ginseng and green tea, improving your capacity to think, learn and remember new concepts.

Taking Ginkgo supplements on a regular basis can also help to improve your circulatory health, enhance your vision and reduce your stress levels.

Other Names

Fossil Tree, Kew Tree, Silver Apricot, White Fruit, Maidenhair, Tanakan, Tebonin, EGb 761

Editor’s Note

Ginkgo biloba is one natural supplement that has definitely withstood the test of time. We’ve been using it since the dawn of civilization to treat everything from asthma to low libido.

While there’s little definitive evidence suggesting that ginkgo biloba will work wonders for healthy adults, most users will tell you that the supplement helps to keep their mind sharp.

Still, studies have found mixed results when it comes to the efficacy of ginkgo supplements. It can be difficult to tell whether the mild cognitive improvements that healthy adults experience can be attributed to the nootropic or the placebo effect.

Clinical trials indicate that older adults who are already experiencing declines in cognitive functioning benefit most from taking ginkgo biloba supplements on a regular basis, while healthy younger adults don’t appear to experience much of an effect.

It seems to me that ginkgo supplements are ideal for older adults that are suffering from the onset of dementia, but may not be the best option for younger generations. Since the effects of ginkgo are mild at best, I prefer to stack my supplements with other memory enhancers.

Even though Ginkgo biloba may not offer significant improvements to everyone’s cognitive abilities, the nootropic offers other health benefits for both healthy and aging adults.

By stimulating blood flow through the body, ginkgo supplements are able to affect multiple organ systems. Even using it at low doses, I noticed a marked improvement in my energy and mood.

Gingko Biloba can also help to treat ocular deficiencies and improve vision in patients with eye disorders, but the effects take some time to appear.

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Ginkgo Biloba Reviews

While Ginkgo biloba may not be a magic solution for cognitive decline, natural health experts seem to agree that it offers a variety of benefits for both the mind and body.

You don’t need to look far to find positive reviews of ginkgo-based products. Supplements have been featured in the news, on talk shows, and in periodicals as a holistic approach towards physical, mental and sexual health.

Benefits and effects

Gingko biloba offers a number of different health benefits for both your mind and body. The supplement targets several key areas, including:

Cognitive Functioning

The most common reason people decide to take Gingko biloba supplements is to sharpen their mind and improve their memory. The supplement stimulates blood flow around the brain region and contains antioxidants that help to prevent neuronal damage.

Studies have shown Ginkgo biloba extract to be particularly adept at reducing symptoms associated with dementia, helping to improve thinking, memory, and social behaviors [2].

In healthy individuals, however, Gingko does not appear to have any significant effect on attention and memory [3].

Circulatory Health

Gingko biloba doesn’t just increase blood flow to the brain, but around the entire body. By enhancing circulation, the plant can help to ease pain and muscle cramping in the legs, also known as intermittent claudication.

Taking the supplement can also reduce or eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms associated with Raynaud’s Phenomenon by increasing blood flow to the outer extremities of the body [4].

Energy and Attention

By stimulating blood circulation, Ginkgo biloba ensures that the body is able to absorb plenty of oxygen and nutrients.

Increased blood flow to the brain and muscles improves both endurance and performance, allowing you to stay awake and focus. Studies have also shown ginkgo extracts to improve sleep quality [5], helping increase focus during the day.

Ocular Health

Clinical trials have shown that Gingko biloba can help to improve vision and overall eye health. Gingko extract fights the progression of glaucoma, alleviating symptoms and improving eyesight in adult patients [6].

The supplement has also been proven to help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration [7] and diabetic eye disease [8].

Anxiety and Depression

Gingko biloba has long been considered a natural treatment for mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. Studies have shown the supplement to be more effective at easing the symptoms of anxiety in adults than a placebo [9].

If you suffer from anxiety or depression, treatment with Gingko biloba can help to reduce your stress and boost your mood.

How It Works

The wide variety of health benefits that Ginkgo biloba offers can mainly be attributed to the plant’s effect on the circulatory system.

More blood flowing through your veins increases the amount of easily accessible oxygen and nutrients available to your muscles, improving efficiency and reducing the risk of cramping.

Increased circulation in the brain enhances cognitive function, including thinking, learning, and memory, while improved circulation through the eyes helps to promote ocular health.

Ginkgo biloba increases blood flow in part by thinning the blood and preventing clotting from taking effect. The plant inhibits the platelet activating factor (PAF) receptor, which dilates blood vessels and decreases the activity of clotting factors. This allows blood to flow freely, improving circulation throughout all areas of the body.

In addition to its stimulatory properties, ginkgo biloba also offers neuroprotective properties that help to prevent brain cells from age-related damage.

Gingko extracts contain flavonoids, which protect the nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels, and retina from DNA damage. Terpene lactones help to improve blood flow and have antibacterial properties.

Together, these antioxidants can protect nerve cells from damage that may lead to Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia.

Gingko biloba can have immediate effects on cognition, providing a temporary boost when you need to think or focus for a short period of time. Ginkgo extract briefly enhances blood flow to the brain and body, but the results don’t last longer than a few hours.

Taking a small dose of the supplement each day offers longer lasting improvements to cognitive health, but it can take from four to six weeks for effects to appear.

Dosage

When it comes to Ginkgo supplements, there is no standard dosage. Adults are recommended to take between 120 and 240 mg each day for maximum efficacy.

It’s a good idea to start out with a low dosage and gradually increase your intake over the course of a few weeks.

Ginkgo biloba supplements come in many forms for ease of use, including capsules, tablets, infusions, and liquid extracts.

Extracts can contain anywhere between 24 to 32% flavonoids and 6 to 12% terpenoids, depending on the manufacturer [10].

Ginkgo biloba supplements should be taken with meals to prevent gastrointestinal distress and should not be given to children, pregnant women, or women who are currently breastfeeding.

Side Effects

For the most part, Gingko biloba is perfectly safe, and common side effects are mild. The supplement can cause minor gastrointestinal distress, including stomach cramping, nausea, gas, and diarrhea.

Users have also reported headaches, dizziness and heart palpitations.

Allergies to Gingko can trigger more serious side effects. The plant is highly allergenic, and it can cause skin reactions in sensitive individuals.

If you are allergic to plants containing alkylphenols, such as poison ivy or cashew nuts, you should avoid taking Gingko biloba extracts or supplements.

Gingko biloba may have severe unintended or undesirable side effects for people with circulatory disorders, or for those who are taking anticoagulants such as aspirin.

Gingko supplements thin the blood and reduce its ability to clot, which increases the risk of excessive bruising and bleeding. People taking antidepressants should also avoid ginkgo biloba, as extracts increase the risk for Serotonin Syndrome.

Stacking

While Gingko biloba has been proven to enhance cognitive functioning, its effects are mild at most for healthy adults. Taking the supplement in combination with other memory enhancers can improve memory, cognition, and mood.

1. Gingko Biloba and Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine is a powerful memory booster that is derived from the periwinkle plant and, like ginkgo extracts, it works by stimulating blood flow and protecting neurons from DNA damage.

Taking vinpocetine with ginkgo biloba enhances all of the extract’s beneficial effects, but will also thin your blood and reduce its ability to clot. The recommended dosage is 100mg of ginkgo biloba with 10mg of vinpocetine, taken twice daily.

2 .Gingko Biloba, Ashwagandha and Gotu Kola

Ashwagandha root, or Indian ginseng, is a natural nootropic that helps to enhance cognition, while Gotu Kola boosts energy, reduces anxiety and offers cardiovascular benefits.

Taking these supplements in combination with ginkgo biloba can help to enhance your memory, improve your mood and stimulate blood circulation.

The recommended daily dosage is 100mg Ginkgo biloba, 300mg Ashwagandha and 600mg Gotu Kola (5% Saponin) taken in the morning and the evening.

Alternatives

There are several natural supplements that offer the same health benefits as Ginkgo biloba:

1. Ginseng

Ginseng is a popular alternative to Ginkgo extracts when it comes to cognitive functioning and stress management.

Instead of stimulating blood flow to the brain, however, ginseng acts by activating the production of Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH), an important stress hormone.

Ginseng is known to have fewer side effects than ginkgo, making it a popular alternative for people who are sensitive or allergic to ginkgo extracts. If you are unable to take ginkgo biloba for any reason, be sure to look into natural ginseng supplements.

  •  Cheaper
  •  Fewer side effects
  •  Fewer health benefits
  •  Fast-acting

2. Green Tea

Green tea has been a popular stimulant for centuries, dating all the way back to ancient Chinese culture. Today, green tea is thought to enhance mental clarity and improve physical health.

Like ginkgo biloba, green tea is used to alleviate symptoms associated with cognitive decline and dementia. The tea’s active component is known as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which helps to promote the creation of new brain cells and reduce brain plaques caused by Alzheimer’s Disease [11].

Green tea also contains l-theanine and caffeine, which offer additional mental and physical health benefits. If you are interested in the medicinal properties of green tea, you can pick some up at your local supermarket and see the benefits yourself.

  •  Cheaper
  •  More potent
  •  Widely available
  •  Additional health benefits

3. Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is another herb with a long history of medicinal cultivation. For thousands of years, the plant has been used to enhance cognition. Like Gingko biloba, Bacopa monnieri is used to treat age-related cognitive decline and the onset of dementia.

Studies show that the plant also improves cognitive functioning in young, healthy adults. Bacopa monnieri is also used to treat anxiety, pulmonary problems, cardiovascular concerns and digestive issues.

Tablets and extracts are usually cheaper than similar products containing ginkgo biloba. If you’re looking for natural alternatives to ginkgo extracts, be sure to check out Bacopa monnieri supplements.

  •  Cheaper
  •  Effective in healthy adults
  •  Slow acting
  •  Additional health benefits

Closing Thoughts

Ginkgo biloba is an ancient and popular health supplement that is prized for its nootropic properties. The plant offers a holistic approach to the treatment of mental decline, helping to improve memory, cognitive functioning, and overall mood.

Ginkgo extracts have been proven to help alleviate the symptoms associated with dementia, improving short-term memory and reducing aberrant social behaviors.

Even though Ginkgo Biloba has not been shown to be as effective for young and healthy minds, the plant offers a variety of other health benefits for users.

By improving circulation, Ginkgo Biloba helps to keep your brain and body feeling fit, while the plant’s antioxidant properties protect cells from irreparable damage.

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