Ginkgo Biloba: Benefits, Side Effects & How to Take It

January 2022

Ginkgo biloba, or ginkgo, is a plant commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is rich in flavonoids and terpenoids, and it also contains strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

Extracts of this plant can have many health benefits, specifically increased arterial, cerebral and peripheral circulation. Gingko is also known as an elixir for mental health as it can stimulate cerebral mechanisms. 

This plant can be very therapeutic, not only for circulation, but for heart health and eye health. Find out about other common health benefits below. 

1. Improvement in mental performance and concentration

Ginkgo improves circulation within capillaries, which results in better oxygen perfusion throughout the body, including the brain. Ginkgo acts on the brain by increasing circulation and blood flow, which improves decision-making and increases concentration.

Because it also contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, this plant may also help to prevent mental fatigue, especially in very active people.

2. Preventing memory loss

Due to increased brain circulation and improved cognitive capacity, ginkgo can also prevent neuron damage. This can help fend off memory loss, which can be beneficial to older adults, especially to ward off Alzheimer's.

Many studies show that ginkgo, used as a complement to treatment, can result in better mental performance and socialization, even in those who already have Alzheimer's.

3. Combating anxiety and depression

Using ginkgo can help the body to cope with elevated levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which are produced when the body is under increased stress. Therefore, people who suffer from anxiety may benefit from taking ginkgo biloba, as it can help them to manage stress that they may be feeling.

In addition, due to its influence on hormonal balances, Ginkgo can decrease sudden changes to mood, especially in women who are PMS'ing, which may decrease the risk for developing depression.

4. Improving eye health

Due to its ability to improve blood circulation and eliminate free radicals, Ginkgo can also help to prevent damage to fragile areas in the eye (like the cornea, macula and retina). This plant can be used to preserve deteriorating vision, especially in people with a history of glaucoma or macular degeneration. .

5. Regulating blood pressure

Ginkgo can cause a mild vasodilation to blood vessels, which can decrease arterial pressure in the vessels and the heart. Therefore, people who take glinkgo may notice a slight reduction in blood pressure, especially people with a history of hypertension.

6. Improving heart health

In addition to decreasing blood pressure, Ginkgo may also prevent the formation of thombi, or clots. This helps to decrease pressure within the heart, which helps the heart to work more efficiently. Given there is a decreased risk of clot formation, there is also a decreased risk of heart attacks.

7. Increasing libido

Gingko biloba appears to increase libido by influencing hormonal balance, which helps to increase blood blow to the genital area. This can help men with erectile dysfunction.

How to take ginkgo biloba

The mode of preparation can vary based on the benefit you wish to achieve and based on the laboratory that produces the supplement. Therefore, it is always best to read the directions on the label, or to consult the opinion of a naturopath.

The standard dose of ginkgo biloba extract to improve mental concentration is 120 to 240mg, 1 to 4 hours before performance (e.g. before a a test). As a nutritional supplement, or to achieve other therapeutic goals, the standard dose is 40 to 120mg, 3 times per day.

Ideally, ginkgo supplements should be taken with meals, to allow for optimal absorption.

How to make ginkgo tea

Ginkgo tea can be easily prepared at home, however it is not possible to know the dose of active properties when taking ginkgo as tea. Therefore, whenever possible, you should use ginkgo in supplement form to obtain the correct therapeutic dose. 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of dried ginkgo biloba leaves
  • 1 cup of hot water

How to prepare

Add the dried leaves to the hot water, and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Then strain the infusion through a mesh sieve, allow it to cool, and drink.

Possible side effects

Side effects associated with ginkgo biloba are rare, especially when you use the correct dose. Nonetheless, some people may develop a headache, a skin reaction, nausea, palpitations or deceased blood pressure.

Who should not take it

Although it is a very safe plant, ginkgo should not be used by children under the age of 12, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, or people with high risk of hemorrhage (or people who are actively bleeding)

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in January 2022. Clinical review completed by Manuel Reis - Registered Nurse in January 2022.

References

  • TIAN, Jinfan; LIU, Yue; CHENA, Keji. Ginkgo biloba Extract in Vascular Protection: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications. Current Vascular Pharmacology. Vol.15(6). 532 - 548, 2017
  • GORBY, Heather E.; BROWNAWELL, Amy M.; FALK, Michael C. Do specific dietary constituents and supplements affect mental energy? Review of the evidence. Nutrition Reviews. Vol.68(12). 697-718, 2010
Show more references
  • BUDSON, Andrew E.; SOLOMON, Paul R. Perda da memória, doença de Alzheimer e demência. 2.ed. Rio de Janeiro: Elsevier, 2018. 172-176.
  • HEALTHLINE. 12 Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba (Plus Side Effects & Dosage). Available on: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ginkgo-biloba-benefits>. Access in 27 Feb 2019
  • EXAMINE. Ginkgo biloba. Available on: <https://examine.com/supplements/ginkgo-biloba/>. Access in 27 Feb 2019
Clinical review:
Manuel Reis
Registered Nurse
Manuel graduated in 2013 and is licensed to practice under the Ordem dos Enfermeiros de Portugal, with license #79026. He specializes in Advanced Clinical Phytotherapy.