The Ginkgo plant, which originated over 200 million years ago, is one of the oldest tree species that can be found today and has been used for a very long time to manage blood conditions and counter cognitive decline. The usefulness of this plant has not declined with time as the extract obtained from Ginkgo biloba leaves (EGb) is used to formulate the most popular natural products-derived vitamins and medications, the Ginkgo supplement, which is among the top-selling herbal remedies in both Europe and the US.1The supplement has been studied over time to understand its acclaimed health benefits, leading to a myriad of research studies dedicated to revealing some constituents of ginkgo that may be responsible for these effects. This article will explore these constituents, their role in improving mental clarity, reducing inflammation, & boosting overall well-being, as well as the ways to safely use Ginkgo for the best results.
One of the oldest plant types still in existence, the Ginkgo tree is often referred to as "a living fossil" and has a lifespan of more than 200 million years. It is also known as the maidenhair tree because of the way its leaves mimic the maidenhair fern. It thrives all over Asia including Korea, China, Japan, as well as Europe, and the United States.2 G. Baloba is the one surviving member in a lineage of gymnosperms that was once varied and widespread. This plant holds a unique place in plant evolution as the only extant species from the division Ginkgopsida and serves as a crucial reference point for appreciating a wide range of extinct plants.3
Modern study however, focuses on the standardized Ginkgo biloba extract obtained from the dried ginkgo biloba leaves, even though both the ginkgo leaf and seed were used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. This highly concentrated, standardized extract appears to be more effective than the non-standardized leaf alone in treating health issues.4
Health benefits of Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo species have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which contribute to its therapeutic benefits. Additionally, it enhances blood flow and is essential for the proper operation of the brain's chemicals. Some of the effects that have been observed by researchers include;
Ginkgo extract gained popularity for its alleged memory-improving qualities in many nations toward the close of the 20th century, and its chemical components are being researched as a potential Alzheimer's disease and dementia treatment.
Ginkgo biloba extract is frequently utilized to improve cognition in age-related diseases like dementia and mild cognitive impairment. Studies have shown that the standardized ginkgo extract has positive effects on long-term memory of both young and old participants.5
There are 2 major active components that have been isolated from the ginkgo extract and are said to be majorly responsible for all of the supplement's effects. The first active component,
Is believed to be responsible for the free radical scavenging ability. Metabolites known as free radicals are released during tissue damage and other physiological responses and these compounds are thought to be responsible for the deterioration of nerve tissue, the flavonoid glycosides act as antioxidants mopping up the harmful radicals and protecting the brain tissue from damage.
The second active component work to inhibit platelet activation which is beneficial because the platelet-activating factors during stress may also be linked to the release of toxins that cause brain tissue harm.6
Some studies however have also disputed the claims that ginkgo supplement has any effect on the progression of Alzheimer's disease.7
Improvement of heart health and blood circulation: Another benefit of this dietary supplement is that it lowers blood pressure. Its constituent terpenoids and flavonoids are said to improve blood vessel dilation, leading to improved blood flow, and also decrease platelet stickiness. The affected areas receive an improved blood and nutrient flow as a result. Its effect on blood pressure is the reason why people taking blood pressure medication must consult their health professional before using the supplement as it might lead to an excessive drop in the blood pressure. Ginkgo used alongside some antihypertensives has been reported to cause mild adverse effects.8
According to studies, patients with tinnitus (ringing in the ears) reported a reduction in their symptoms after taking Ginkgo biloba, but additional research is required to investigate the effects on various kinds of tinnitus and at various dosages. The usual dose is 120-160mg of the extract taken orally in divided doses.9
Ginkgo extract has been seen to improve sexual health parameters in patients suffering from erectile dysfunction, based on studies carried out on both humans10 and animals.11 One of the major side effects of antidepressants is the suppression of sexual desire. Gingko was discovered to be 84% successful in treating selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)- induced sexual dysfunction, a specific type of erectile dysfunction which is a side effect of antidepressant usage.12 The drug has also been said to reduce anxiety and improve sleep in patients with antidepressant-induced insomnia.13
Ginkgo biloba shows potential in glaucoma treatment and other eye diseases. This has been attributed to its platelet-activating elements which improve blood flow and its anti-oxidizing elements which act as a defense against free radical-induced membrane damage. The antioxidants have been shown to reduce degeneration of the retina and there is also research proving that those with diabetic retinal impairment who take oral ginkgo leaf extract report improved color vision.14 In addition to this ginkgo extract has been said to improve symptoms associated with eye allergy and conjunctivitis, benefits have also been noticed in patients with glaucoma who used Ginkgo over a period of time.
Lowers the symptoms of PMS
It is beneficial for treating menstrual hormonal problems like premenstrual syndrome. (PMS). Ginkgo Biloba was said to decrease the severity of PMS symptoms by 23%, according to a study done on 85 college students.15 Another study compared the effects of a standardized extract of ginkgo biloba in two groups of women who had similar degrees of PMS symptoms, it was found that after a six-month treatment with ginkgo, there was a noticeable reduction in both the physical and psychological symptoms, this was observed in both the group taking the ginkgo extract and the placebo group; the percentage of patients who showed improvements were however higher in the ginkgo group than in the placebo group.13
Management of Raynaud’s disease
Raynaud's disease also called Raynaud's syndrome is a phenomenon that changes the blood flow to specific body parts, typically extremities like the fingers and toes. Blood flow is boosted by Ginkgo biloba, which also lessens the brittleness of capillaries, the tiny blood vessels located throughout the body. Ginkgo biloba thins the blood and opens capillaries to improve blood flow, making it a suitable supplement for managing Raynaud's syndrome. One study found a reduction in severity of the disease symptoms in participants using the standardized extract compared to the placebo.16
Nutrients we can get from ginkgo biloba
Only two of the more than 40 components of Ginkgo that have been classified by scientists—terpenoids and flavonoids—have therapeutic qualities. Plant-based antioxidants called flavonoids have positive effects on the brain health, retina, blood vessels, neurons, and protection from heart disease.
It is well known that terpenoids improve blood flow through the vessels. Riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates are among the trace vitamins found in ginkgo. The dietary supplement is a repository for numerous elements, including copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, and iron.
Ginkgo leaf contains a wide range of phenolic compounds, flavonoids, terpenoids, and other organic molecules that contribute to its extensive array of health advantages. Ginkgo nuts are rich sources of vitamins A, C, niacin, sodium, phosphate, copper, and potassium.17
Ways to use ginkgo biloba for our health
Ginkgo biloba is a plant supplement sold as unlicensed homeopathic or over-the-counter medications for several medical conditions, including problems with the brain, the nervous system, the heart, and the reproductive system. There are many different forms in which ginkgo biloba is sold and some of them include, pills, capsules, liquid extracts, and dried leaves for tea.
Although there isn't a set dosage for ginkgo supplements, the majority of scientific studies have shown that 120 mg to 240 mg of ginkgo per day, taken in divided amounts, is safe to consume. However, it is recommended that you speak with your Doctor or Pharmacist who might recommend higher doses.
Avoid combining Ginkgo Biloba products (extracts, roasted seeds, pills, tincture, teas, etc.) without consulting a doctor. Combining various formulations raises the likelihood of an overdose.18
Blood clotting may be affected by ginkgo biloba, which could lead to a rise in bleeding risk. discontinue the use of Ginkgo Biloba at least two weeks before any type of surgery, dental treatment, or medical procedure.
How much is enough?
Ginkgo leaf extract seems to be safe when consumed orally in moderate doses for the majority of individuals.19
Headache, upset stomach, heart palpitations, constipation, and hypersensitivity responses are possible ginkgo side effects. You should exercise caution when taking ginkgo because it may make bleeding more likely if you already have a known bleeding risk or if you are on medication that could increase your bleeding risk, such as anticoagulants. People who are diabetic must consult their physician before using the ginkgo supplement.
Never mix ginkgo or ginkgo-containing supplements with aspirin, ibuprofen, coumadin, or medicines for arthritis.
Oral Ginkgo must not be consumed while pregnant, usage at this point might trigger early labour or extra bleeding during birth.18 The safety of ginkgo consumption while nursing is not well known. Children should not consume ginkgo biloba because its safety has not been established.
Unprocessed ginkgo leaves and seeds may contain toxic quantities of a substance. Ginkgo nuts are poisonous and can have harmful adverse effects if consumed raw or roasted.
When Ginkgo biloba fruit pulp is touched or handled, it can result in a severe skin response that lasts up to 10 days and includes signs of inflammation such as redness, itching, and swelling,
Store away from dampness, heat, and light and maintain storage temperature at room temperature.
Note that Ginkgo does not work right away according to studies, depending on the condition you're trying to address, it can take ginkgo anywhere from four to six weeks to start working. So do not start this supplement expecting instant results.
The Ginkgo tree is the oldest plant type still in existence, the ginkgo tree is often referred to as "a living fossil" and has a lifespan of more than 200 million years. The ginkgo leaf and seed were used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years due to its health benefits but modern medicine focuses on the standardized extract which is sold in the form of pills, capsules, liquid extracts, and dried leaves for tea.
Out of its numerous constituents, two important ones terpenoids and flavonoids have been deemed responsible for a majority of its therapeutic effects. The supplement is most popular for its use in brain health especially in cases of Cognitive decline which include cases of dementia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have shown it is also beneficial in heart health and overall well-being. The drug has few known side effects but should not be used without talking to a health professional.
- Li M, Li B, Hou Y, Tian Y, Chen L, Liu S, et al. Anti‐inflammatory effects of chemical components from Ginkgo biloba L. male flowers on lipopolysaccharide‐stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages. Phytotherapy Research [Internet]. 2019 Apr [cited 2023 Mar 10];33(4):989–97. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.6292
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- Vellas B, Coley N, Ousset PJ, Berrut G, Dartigues JF, Dubois B, et al. Long-term use of standardised ginkgo biloba extract for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (Guidage): a randomised placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet Neurology [Internet]. 2012 Oct 1 [cited 2023 Mar 17];11(10):851–9. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1474442212702065
- Choi WS, Choi CJ, Kim KS, Lee JH, Song CH, Chung JH, et al. To compare the efficacy and safety of nifedipine sustained release with Ginkgo biloba extract to treat patients with primary Raynaud’s phenomenon in South Korea; Korean Raynaud study (KOARA study). Clin Rheumatol. 2009 May;28(5):553–9.
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- Wu YN, Liao CH, Chen KC, Liu SP, Chiang HS. Effect of ginkgo biloba extract (EGb-761) on recovery of erectile dysfunction in bilateral cavernous nerve injury rat model. Urology [Internet]. 2015 May 1 [cited 2023 Mar 15];85(5):1214.e7-1214.e15. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0090429515001016
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