11 Benefits Of Ginkgo Biloba

Natural supplements are becoming very popular in the modern-day. We are moving back to a time when people turn to nature when they want to treat certain conditions.

The invention of pharmaceutical drugs did bring along benefits. Some drugs can effectively help in the treatment of several diseases. Unfortunately, there are also risks and side-effects that people need to be aware of. 

Several natural plant extracts are used to treat the common cold, relieve pain, alleviate inflammation, and even help people with depression.

Ginkgo biloba is a herb that has gained recognition as a natural nootropic supplement. The plant is often used to increase blood circulation too, and to provide other potential benefits. 

We look at what Ginkgo biloba is in this post. We also share a list of the most important benefits associated with the plant extract. 

What Is Ginkgo Biloba?

Did you know that Ginkgo Biloba is one of the oldest living tree species? 

Ginkgo biloba is the only living species of the Ginkgophyta family that has been around for more than 270 million years. 

Although Ginkgo biloba is native to China, where it is still cultivated, people across the globe use it in the form of supplements.

Uses and benefits of ginkgo Biloba are numerous, but the most popular reason why people use these supplements is to sharpen their memory. So, it’s impossible not to wonder whether ginkgo can, indeed, boost your memory or not. 

Ginkgo biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, thanks to active compounds that benefit our health. 

A lot of studies have been done on this plant. Results are sometimes mixed, and researchers have explained that more studies are still needed. Still, there are a few benefits that people can experience when they decide to take these supplements. 

But, can ginkgo really improve memory? Evidence on this subject is still inconsistent, and the jury is still out there. For instance, the May 2008 issue of the journal Neurology found that intake of ginkgo Biloba may delay the onset of cognitive impairment in healthy elderly adults.

However, not only did ginkgo use improve cognitive function and memory, but it also exhibited a higher incidence of mini-strokes and strokes1. Scientists emphasized the importance of more studies on this subject to confirm or disprove the potential cognitive-protecting benefits of ginkgo.

In March 2010, the BMC Geriatrics published an interesting review of studies on this particular topic. Scientists wanted to assess the efficacy of ginkgo Biloba supplementation on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. For this purpose, they evaluated nine trials that met specific demands for the most accurate results.

Findings revealed that ginkgo Biloba appeared more effective than a placebo in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. People who took this supplement were less likely to experience worsening of memory than their counterparts. Unlike the above-mentioned study, scientists who worked on this one didn’t find that ginkgo supplementation contributed to stroke in subjects.

A research from 2011 found that supplementation with ginkgo Biloba was associated with modest improvement inaccuracy in an object working memory task2. But just a year later, in 2012, one study found that taking ginkgo Biloba doesn’t really improve your memory[i].

At this point, it would be impossible to say that ginkgo Biloba improves memory dramatically or that it does not. Some studies do confirm that ginkgo is effective, while others observe no influence of supplementation on subjects’ memory and other cognitive skills.

More research on this topic is necessary in order to determine whether ginkgo is really safe. The fact that it is taken a supplement may provide a false sense of security, but you should never buy ginkgo (or any other) supplement before consulting your doctor.

What Are The Benefits?

Several studies have been done on Ginkgo biloba. While research is still limited in some areas, there is evidence that the plant produces a number of positive effects in the body. We look at the proven benefits linked to Ginkgo Biloba below. 

1) Antioxidants

The antioxidant activity of Ginkgo biloba is one of its most promising benefits. Antioxidants are important in the body. This is why the plant has been linked to so many promising health benefits3. 

Antioxidants are important in combatting the effects that free radicals have on the human body. Free radicals cause oxidative damage. This leads to damaged tissue – essentially causing a faster-aging process. Free radicals also contribute to the development of diseases in the body. 

The terpenoids and flavonoids in Ginkgo biloba are what contribute to its antioxidant activity4. The terpene lactones also provide additional benefits. These are known as potent antioxidants that have been heavily researched in the past. 

2) Help Inflammation

Inflammation is one of the most common problems faced by the human population. We can sometimes have inflammation without even realizing it. This is called low-grade inflammation.

It affects the gut, arteries, and other areas of the body. Over time, the inflammation damages a person’s DNA and causes problems with tissue in the body too. This leads to disease. 

Studies have shown that Ginkgo biloba extract may be a potent natural remedy for inhibiting inflammatory responses in the human body5. Herbal medicine may be useful in various inflammatory diseases, including knee osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis. A Ginkgo supplement may also help conditions like intermittent claudication.

3) Circulation And Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease is considered one of the biggest killers in the world. It causes a large number of people to die each year from heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, and other events. The use of Ginkgo biloba also seems to be helpful for people who may be at risk of heart disease. 

It has been previously found that nitric oxide levels seem to increase with the consumption of Ginkgo biloba. There was a 12% increase in nitric oxide levels in one study6. The clinical trial showed that blood flow could possibly be improved. This is a gaseous compound responsible for ensuring blood vessels are able to dilate properly.

In turn, blood circulation improves. The antioxidant activity is also good for promoting better heart health. Blood pressure may also be reduced in the process. The Ginkgo supplementation might also be useful for men with erectile dysfunction. In women, sexual dysfunction may also improve. 

4) Psychiatric Disorders And Dementia

Dementia is a common condition among the senior population. It is often a sign that a person is developing Alzheimer’s disease. This is a dreaded disease for any person. It can cause serious impairments in memory and cognitive function. 

The use of Ginkgo leaf supplements may be helpful in reducing the risk of cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. People with mild Alzheimer’s disease may also experience a slight improvement in cognitive function if they use the supplement.

Evidence exists that Ginkgo biloba might help to increase the amount of blood that flows to the brain. This could explain its role in reducing the risk of such degenerative diseases that affect the brain.

5) Reduce Anxiety

Anxiety disorders affect millions of American adults. These conditions can wreak havoc on a person’s life. There are different forms of anxiety. In some cases, people may also experience anxiety attacks

Some evidence exists that suggests Ginkgo biloba is useful for people with mild anxiety symptoms. It is suggested that the antioxidants found in the plant may help to ease the symptoms. 

6) Depression

Anxiety is not the only mental health problem that people are worried about. A large number of individuals are also experiencing depression. This condition can cause an overwhelming feeling of sadness and even lead to suicide in some people. 

A few of the actions produced by Ginkgo biloba might help a person experience a reduction in depressive symptoms. The main focus points here are the anti-inflammatory properties, along with the antioxidants found in Ginkgo biloba. 

7) Eye Health

There is still limited research relating to eye health and Ginkgo biloba, but current results do seem to be promising. Ginkgo biloba was previously proven to yield an improvement in blood circulation. This includes blood flow to a person’s brain and head area. 

In addition to these, it also seems like blood flow to the eyes is improved when a person takes Ginkgo biloba supplements. This may be a useful option for individuals who have been diagnosed with glaucoma. It may help to support the individual’s current vision. Thereby, the plant extract could reduce the risk of a further decline in vision.

The flavonoid found in ginkgo may help stop or reduce some problems with the retina, the back part of the eye. Macular degeneration, often called age-related macular degeneration or AMD, is an eye disease that affects the retina.

8) Headaches

Millions of people experience headaches and migraines every day. These can come on suddenly and often without any obvious explanation.

When a headache develops, a person will find that it interferes with their ability to continue the task they are working on. A headache makes concentration difficult and leads to a reduced productivity level. 

Ginkgo biloba might be helpful for some types of headaches. With this particular subject, the reason for the headache needs to be taken into consideration. When stress is causing headaches, then an inflammatory response might be behind the pain. In such a case, using Ginkgo biloba could be a helpful strategy. 

9) Improve Asthma

Asthma is a severe and chronic disease. It is associated with an inflammatory response that restricts airflow in the lungs. When the airways are inflamed, it becomes harder to breathe. 

We have already mentioned that Ginkgo biloba is useful for treating inflammation. The plant extract may help to block inflammatory responses in the body. Studies also show that people with asthma could benefit from these effects. The Ginkgo biloba may reduce inflammation in the airways. This would allow the person to breathe more easily. 

10) PMS Symptoms

PMS is something that women need to go through from a relatively young age – up to the point where they reach menopause. When a woman enters her menstrual cycle for the month, she will usually feel moody and may even experience pain. The symptoms of PMS can often be exceptionally unpleasant. 

There is evidence that Ginkgo biloba could have a beneficial effect. In one study7, a total of 85 female college students were provided a daily dose of this plant extract. Following the study, a 23% reduction in the PMS symptoms reported by the students was noted. 

Ginkgo improves erectile dysfunction. Rat studies in Taiwan consistently show improvement in erectile dysfunction when a ginkgo extract was given to rats.

Interestingly, the rats had a nerve crush injury to the penis, but when given the herbal extract, the nerve started to regenerate.

The scientists were excited about these effects and made the statement that the benefits of ginkgo could be used in the repair of the cavernous nerve and recovery of erectile function after radical prostatectomy.

11) Break the bondage of hearing loss

Ginkgo is effective against hearing loss and tinnitus.

One of the worst things that can happen as you get older is hearing loss and ringing in the ears.

Many people think that tinnitus is not so bad. Just try to imagine how your thinking would be affected if you had a constant hum or tiny sound in your ears that wouldn’t ever shut itself off.

Hearing loss is a very isolating type of disorder; when you can’t hear what your granddaughter is saying, it’s challenging to have a great relationship with her.

Ginkgo may help. German scientists found that an extract of ginkgo worked quite well on the cellular and systemic levels of the nervous system.

Specifically, the extract reduced noise-induced hearing loss and the development of ringing in the ears. It did this by affecting the whole system of auditory processing in the brain.

Dosage And Form

Taking too much of the supplement can lead to adverse effects. A person who takes a high dose may be at an increased risk of bleeding disorders. The general side-effects associated with the supplement are also more likely to occur in a person who does not adhere to the dosage instructions. 

At the same time, a person also does not want to take a dosage that is too low. This would yield little or no results at all. 

The specific dosage depends on why a person wants to use the supplement. A leaf extract is generally preferred. This can be either as a capsule or a powdered form. A standardized Ginkgo Biloba extract is usually recommended. The specific dose for various uses:

  • Up to 600mg can be taken two times each day to improve cognitive function.

  • About 80mg can be taken twice in a single day to prevent altitude sickness.

  • Up to 240mg can be take in 24 hours to help with dementia – the 240mg should be split into three servings.

  • Women can take 80mg two times each day to help with PMS symptoms.

Side Effects

There are a few side effects that people could experience if they use a Ginkgo biloba supplement. Knowing this ensures the person understands what to expect. Most side effects tend to be mild. There have been cases where more severe side effects were reported too. 

Allergic reactions are the most serious concern. Some people may experience allergic skin reactions. This is an extremely rare occurrence, however. 

Other side effects that have been reported among people who use Ginkgo extract include:

  • Restlessness

  • Constipation

  • Increased risk of bleeding

  • Heart palpitations

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Diarrhea

  • Weakness

  • An upset stomach

  • Subdural hematoma

There have been cases of seizures in the past too. In rare scenarios, vertigo may develop as a side-effect. In both men and women, it should be noted that impaired fertility has been reported as a rare incident associated with Ginkgo biloba. 

Drug interaction can happen in some cases. Whether a person is using Gingko Biloba tea or a Ginkgo seed extract, they should also consider possible interactions. This ensures a supplement used for mild cognitive impairment does not end up doing more damage than good. 

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Conclusion

Ginkgo leaf extract is a popular dietary supplement, but it may not be as effective as we are led to believe. Researchers suggest more studies are needed to confirm if the herb is as effective at promoting improved cognitive function.

There is evidence that the plant extract may yield additional benefits too. When taking the supplement, people should understand the current evidence. They should also realize what the side-effects could be, as well as know how much to take. 

Sources

  1. Jiang L, Su L, Cui H, Ren J, Li C. Ginkgo biloba extract for dementia: a systematic review. Shanghai Arch Psychiatry. 2013;25(1):10–21. doi:10.3969/j.issn.1002-0829.2013.01.005
  2. Tziridis K, Korn S, Ahlf S, Schulze H. Protective effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 against noise trauma-induced hearing loss and tinnitus development. Neural Plast. 2014;2014:427298. doi:10.1155/2014/427298
  3. Michael Sohn & Richard Sikora (1991) Ginkgo biloba Extract in the Therapy of Erectile Dysfunction, Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 17:1, 53-61, DOI: 10.1080/01614576.1991.11074006
  4. Peng,C, Liu, J, Chang, H, et al. (2013). Action Mechanism of Ginkgo biloba Leaf Extract Intervened by Exercise Therapy in Treatment of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 1 (1), p1-12.
  5. Szczurko O, Shear N, Taddio A, Boon H. Ginkgo biloba for the treatment of vitilgo vulgaris: an open label pilot clinical trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:21. Published 2011 Mar 15. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-21

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