Ginkgo biloba. Family: Ginkgoaceae
Ginkgo biloba is an herb. It’s extracted from the dried leaves and seeds of the tree.
It’s been sold in the U.S. with claims of enhancing memory and mental sharpness.
Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) contains flavonoids. It also contains terpenes, specifically
ginkgolides A, B, and C. GBE is used to treat cerebral insufficiency. This causes
trouble with memory, dizziness, tinnitus, anxiety, and headaches. GBE is also used
to treat dementia, circulatory issues, and bronchoconstriction. GBE may reduce clotting
time and the risk for stroke.
Medically valid uses
At this time, there are no valid medical uses for ginkgo biloba.
Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated
Ginkgo biloba has been studied for a lot of uses. A large study, called the Ginkgo
Evaluation of Memory study, found that the ginkgo biloba product studied didn’t lower
the risk of dementia. They also didn’t reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease or
cognitive decline. Nor did they lower the risk for high blood pressure.
Another large study was done by the National Institute on Aging. It showed no improvements
in memory in 200 adults over the age of 60 years who took ginkgo biloba for six weeks.
Some small studies have shown that ginkgo biloba was linked with moderate improvements
in leg pain due to arterial disease in the legs. But other studies haven’t this benefit.
Ginkgo comes as tea, supplements, or extract. Follow the instructions on the label
Side effects, toxicity, and interactions
In rare cases, ginkgo biloba may cause side effects. These include upset stomach,
headaches, and allergic skin reactions. Ginkgo biloba seeds can cause neurologic issues
and allergic reactions. These can be fatal (cause death). For this reason, the seeds
aren’t used for medical reasons.
Talk to your healthcare provider before taking ginkgo if you take any other medicines.
It may interact with other medicines, especially blood thinners (anticoagulants).
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their healthcare providers
before taking any herbal medicines.