Ginkgo biloba is a large tree that's native to the Asian nations of Japan, China and Korea; though, it has also been found in certain places throughout Europe. By the 1700s, the tree was brought over to the U.S. and has been available here ever since. The Ginkgo biloba tree features large fan-shaped leaves from which its extract is derived. In fact, ginkgo biloba supplements in the form of liquids, tablets and capsules have become popular in the health and wellness spheres and are available to purchase in health food stores across the nation, offering a variety of applications.
Traditional Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba
Traditional health benefits of Ginkgo biloba are Brain & Cognitive Support and Pain Support. Ginkgo biloba leaf has been shown to have positive effects on brain function and memory, both in human and animal studies.
What is Ginkgo Biloba Used For?
Ginkgo Biloba may have numerous benefits to the mind and body, including the following: Remedies Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, Reduces Anxiety, Improves Symptoms of Glaucoma, Lowers Leg Pain and Improves Symptoms of Vertigo
Products Containing Ginkgo Biloba
Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is not found in any food source other than the ginkgo tree itself. The majority of ginkgo biloba supplements come from the leaves of the tree. Ginkgo biloba has been used for thousands of years for its health benefits, and modern studies have continued to suggest that taking ginkgo biloba may have specific positive effects on health, including the following. Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease Ginkgo biloba may be beneficial in alleviating the effects of dementia, though more research is required. Some studies have linked the use of ginkgo biloba with improved cognitive function in dementia patients as a result of improved blood flow to the brain and protection of nerve cells from damage as a result of the disease. More specifically, it is the EGb 761 extract of ginkgo biloba that has been clinically shown to be effective at improving cognitive function dementia and Alzheimer's when taken in appropriate doses. Anxiety Some studies suggest that ginkgo biloba may be effective in treating anxiety1. One particular study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research discovered that patients suffering from general anxiety experienced some level of relief from anxiety when ginkgo biloba was taken compared to study participants who took a placebo. Glaucoma There may be some evidence to support the notion that ginkgo biloba may help to improve glaucoma. One study noticed improvements in the vision of glaucoma patients who took the supplement over a certain time period2. Other studies have found that ginkgo biloba may be effective in helping to extend eyesight in patients with macular degeneration3, though further studies are warranted to solidify such findings. Leg Pain Some evidence suggests that ginkgo leaf extract may help to decrease pain felt in the legs as a result of poor blood circulation in the extremities4. Vertigo Ginkgo leaf extract may help to improve symptoms of vertigo5, including dizziness and imbalance, thanks to the extract's ability to improve cerebral and vestibular blood flow.
How to Use and Supplement with Ginkgo Biloba
As mentioned earlier, ginkgo biloba comes in various forms, including liquid extracts, capsules, tablets and dried tea leaves. While the leaves may be safely taken, it's suggested that the seeds of the tree may be poisonous and should therefore be avoided. It should also be noted that the effects of the supplement may take from 2-6 weeks to be noticed. There is evidence to support ginkgo biloba’s ability to treat specific ailments, including dementia, Alzheimer's disease, glaucoma, and pain associated with the extremities due to poor circulation. That said, more studies need to be conducted to solidify the effectiveness of this supplement. Furthermore, ginkgo biloba may not be appropriate for everyone, and may have certain adverse interactions with specific medications. Consultation with a physician before taking ginkgo biloba is highly recommended.
Recommended Daily Allowance of Ginkgo Biloba
In terms of appropriate dosing, studies suggest that anywhere between 120-240 mg per day of ginkgo biloba may be safely taken by healthy adults. However, ginkgo biloba may not be suitable for certain individuals, including children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and patients with epilepsy or who are on blood thinners. Those who are allergic to poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac or mango rind may also not be suitable for taking ginkgo biloba as severe allergic reactions to the skin may be more likely. As with any other supplement, it's imperative to seek the advice and guidance of a physician before adding ginkgo biloba to any health regimen.
Special Considerations and Side Effects of Using Ginkgo Biloba
It's important to take special care if other medications are being taken, as ginkgo biloba may have an adverse reaction when combined with other medications. More specifically, interactions with certain medications may not only reduce their effectiveness, but may also cause internal bleeding. As such, it's important to check with a physician before introducing ginkgo biloba while taking other medications, including the following: Anticoagulants (such as aspirin) Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) (such as Zoloft or Prozac) Anticonvulsants and seizure-lowering drugs Certain statins (such as Zocor) Diabetes drugs Ibuprofen There may also be a risk of an allergic reaction associated with taking ginkgo biloba6. More specifically, it's the long-chain alkylphenols that are allergenic and may cause an allergic reaction in some people. Certain potential side effects may be associated with the use of ginkgo biloba, including the following: Gastrointestinal discomfort Nausea Vomiting Diarrhea Dizziness Internal bleeding Skin reactions Headaches
Sources & Citations
1. Woelk H, Arnoldt K, Kieser M, Hoerr R. Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761 in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2007;41(6):472-480. [PubMed] 2. Shim S, Kim J, Choi C, Kim C, Park K. Ginkgo biloba Extract and Bilberry Anthocyanins Improve Visual Function in Patients with Normal Tension Glaucoma. J Med Food. 2012;15(9):818-823. [PMC] 3. Evans J. Ginkgo biloba extract for age-related macular degeneration. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(1):CD001775. [PubMed] 4. Nicolaï S, Gerardu V, Kruidenier L, Prins M, Teijink J. From the Cochrane library: Ginkgo biloba for intermittent claudication. Vasa. 2010;39(2):153-158. [PubMed] 5. Sokolova L, Hoerr R, Mishchenko T. Treatment of Vertigo: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial Comparing Efficacy and Safety of Ginkgo biloba Extract EGb 761 and Betahistine. Int J Otolaryngol. 2014;2014:682439. [PMC] 6. Schötz K. Quantification of allergenic urushiols in extracts of Ginkgo biloba leaves, in simple one-step extracts and refined manufactured material (EGb 761). Phytochem Anal. 2004;15(1):1-8. [PubMed]
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