Ginkgo Biloba Benefits, Side Effects & Dosage [UK] 2023
One of the oldest living tree species on the planet, ginkgo biloba has a lengthy history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. It has also become popular in recent years as an herbal supplement, studied for its effects on brain function, circulation, mental health, and more.
Available in tablets, capsules, extracts, and teas, ginkgo biloba supplements typically contain extracts made from the leaves or seeds of the plant. These supplements are generally considered safe, though there have been some instances of negative reactions. It’s always wise to consult your physician before taking new medications or supplements.
This plant is full of powerful plant compounds, but what ginkgo biloba benefits can you expect? Here’s what you need to know.
7 Health Benefits Of Ginkgo Biloba
There are 7 primary ginkgo biloba health benefits:
- Antioxidant protection against free-radical damage.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Improved circulation and cardiovascular support.
- Better brain function and memory.
- Relief from anxiety and depression.
- Treatment for sexual dysfunction in men.
- Improved asthma and COPD symptoms.
What Is Ginkgo Biloba?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health or NCCIH, ginkgo is one of the oldest living tree species. In traditional Chinese medicine, royalty would take ginkgo nuts as a remedy for senility. Ginkgo has also been used historically as a treatment for asthma, kidney problems, and bladder disorders, though recent scientific evidence supporting these uses is very limited.
Early medicinal use of ginkgo biloba involved eating ginkgo seeds after the shell and outer skin were removed. The seeds were then boiled and nicknamed ginkgo nuts. Modern supplements are typically made with standardized ginkgo biloba extract or GBE, which is made from dried green ginkgo leaves.
Now that you know a little more about this plant, it’s time to answer the question: is ginkgo biloba good for you? Let’s find out.
What Are The Benefits Of Ginkgo Biloba?
Whether you’re eating roasted ginkgo seeds or taking an herbal supplement made with ginkgo extract, the plant compounds in ginkgo have the potential to provide numerous benefits.
Antioxidant Protection Against Free Radicals
Ginkgo biloba contains high concentrations of antioxidants, including flavonoids and terpenoids. Antioxidant compounds like these neutralize free radicals, which have the potential to damage cells and tissues – they’ve also been linked to accelerated aging and the development of disease. Though research confirms the antioxidant content of ginkgo biloba, studies are limited in terms of its specific application.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injuries, but chronic inflammation can be damaging. Certain diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and heart disease are characterized by chronic inflammation.
Improved Circulation And Cardiovascular Support
In traditional medicine, ginkgo seeds were thought to increase blood flow to essential organs like the liver, kidneys, and lungs. Most of the studies supporting ginkgo’s benefit in dilating blood vessels, however, are more than ten years old.
While some studies point to potential protective benefits for heart health and stroke prevention, improvements in these metrics could also be attributed to ginkgo’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Better Brain Function
Though research for other applications is somewhat limited, several studies suggest ginkgo biloba may be beneficial for age-related disorders – particularly neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Characterized by progressive cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease is a common cause of mortality in elderly patients.
A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials concluded that ginkgo biloba might be beneficial for improvements in cognitive decline, activities of daily living, and clinical assessment in Alzheimer’s patients exhibiting mild cognitive decline.
Though small studies support the potential of ginkgo biloba benefits for brain health, more research is needed to determine its effects in this area.
Relief From Psychiatric Symptoms
In addition to being studied as a potential treatment for neurodegenerative conditions, ginkgo supplements have been tested for their efficacy in relieving psychological symptoms of conditions like anxiety and depression.
In an older study from 2007, test subjects treated with 480 milligrams of ginkgo reported a 45% reduction in anxiety symptoms. More recent studies, however, have been unable to determine whether any potential anxiolytic effect of ginkgo might be attributed to its antioxidant content.
Studies testing the benefits of ginkgo for depression are a little more promising. A 2019 study involving patients suffering from post-stroke depression revealed significant improvement in depressive symptoms in patients taking ginkgo in combination with the antidepressant venlafaxine.
Treatment For Sexual Dysfunction
Marketing for male-focused supplements suggests ginkgo biloba benefits sexually dysfunctional individuals, but little recent evidence supports this. A few older studies of the effects of ginkgo on sexual health involved symptoms like erectile dysfunction and low libido, particularly in relation to the use of antidepressant drugs. A review of these studies, however, concluded that ginkgo was no more effective than placebo.
Improved Asthma And COPD Symptoms
In Chinese medicine, ginkgo has been used to treat asthma and bronchitis. Several recent studies support this benefit, though it’s unclear whether the beneficial effects can be better attributed to ginkgo’s concentration of anti-inflammatory compounds.
One 2013 study involving 100 subjects evaluated the use of a Chinese herb mixture, which included ginkgo, for treating a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. At a three-month follow-up, individuals in the test group reported a greater reduction in cough and bronchitis than those in the control group.
Other Potential Benefits
Regarding potential ginkgo biloba benefits for women, some preliminary research suggests ginkgo might help with the psychological and physical symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
Due to its antioxidant content, there is the potential for ginkgo biloba benefits on the skin, particularly in the area of anti-aging. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginkgo could also help with inflammatory skin conditions, though no significant study has been done in this area.
Regarding the potential benefits of ginkgo biloba for hair health, some hair growth supplements contain ginkgo, but the only study of this effect is twenty years old.
Dosage & Available Forms
There is no standard dosage for taking ginkgo biloba, and different formulations have been studied for various conditions. How much ginkgo biloba per day is safe to take may vary depending on what other supplements or conventional medications you take.
Ginkgo supplements are typically labeled ginkgo biloba since that is the most commonly used name. In traditional Chinese medicine, however, ginkgo is also known as yinhsing and bai guo ye, so you may see these names depending on where you shop for supplements.
Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects & Safety
Though ginkgo appears to be safe, ginkgo biloba has been linked to minor side effects such as headache, dizziness, heart palpitations, and stomach upset. Some case reports indicate a risk of bleeding and seizures in individuals prone to these issues.
Ginkgo may interact with certain medications. When it comes to the highest risk of triggering ginkgo biloba side effects, blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, blood thinners, and diabetes medications top the list. Ginkgo may also decrease the efficacy of anti-anxiety medications like Xanax.
So, is it safe to take ginkgo biloba every day? The answer varies depending on multiple factors, so ask your doctor before starting ginkgo supplementation to ensure you don’t have an increased risk for side effects or drug interactions.
The Bottom Line
The ginkgo tree and its leaves and seeds have been valued in traditional medicine for centuries. Dietary supplements made from ginkgo harness the plant’s high concentrations of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which, some research suggests, may have benefits for treating cognitive impairment and blood circulation issues.
The fact remains, however, that ginkgo biloba supplementation requires more study to determine its effectiveness in treating specific diseases. Talk to your doctor before taking ginkgo biloba supplements.
+ 13 sources
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