Ginkgo Biloba extract, benefit and side effects, how well does it work as a brain booster? by Ray Sahelian, M.D., author of Mind Boosters: natural supplements that enhance your mind, memory, and mood
Ginkgo biloba tree leaf extract has been used therapeutically in China for millennia. According to fossil records, the ginkgo tree has been around for over 200 million years and is one of the oldest still existing tree species on earth. Individual trees live up to 1,000 years. Like ginseng, it is mentioned in the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia. Ginkgo biloba extracts are among the most widely studied and prescribed drugs in Europe to alleviate symptoms associated with a wide range of conditions. The main indications are in peripheral vascular disease and the therapy of age related cognitive decline. It is also is a mind booster underutilized by the medical profession. The benefit of this herb and its extract to prevent Alzheimer's disease has not been proven.
Ginkgo Biloba extract, 40 mg per
Ginkgo Biloba 50:1 extract is standardized at 24% ginkgoflavonglycosides (or heterosides), and a minimum of 6% terpene lactones. Ginkgolides A and B are the most active fractions.
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Ginkgo Biloba extract 40 mg (50:1 Standardized Extract)
Contains a minimum of 24% ginkgo flavon glycosides and minimum of 6% terpene lactones in the following properties: (Ginkgolide A 1.3%) (Ginkgolide B 1.0%) (Ginkgolide C 1.2%) (Bilobalide 2.7%)
Mind Power Rx natural brain supplement has a dozen herbs and nutrients. It combines a delicate balance of brain circulation agents and neurotransmitter precursors with powerful natural brain chemicals that support healthy:
Memory and Mood
Alertness and Focus
Ashwagandha, Bacopa, Fo-Ti, Ginkgo biloba extract, Ginseng, Mucuna pruriens, Rhodiola, and Reishi. The nutrients and vitamins in Mind Power Rx include Acetyl-l-carnitine, Carnosine, choline nutrient, DMAE, Inositol, Methylcobalamin, Pantothenic acid, Trimethylglycine, Tyrosine, and vinpocetine.
Memory and Mood
Ginkgo biloba extract has been found to partially reverse erectile dysfunction in those who take Prozac and other SSRIs, however other studies have not shown the same benefits.
Increased cerebral circulation has been found.
Erectile dysfunction or impotence
Cataract in eye
Improved haemorrheological properties by Ginkgo biloba extract (Egb 761) in type 2 diabetes mellitus complicated with retinopathy.
Clin Nutr. 2004.
Abnormal haemorrheological property changes in erythrocyte deformability, plasma and blood viscosity, and blood viscoelasticity may play very important roles in the development of microangiopathies in diabetes mellitus. In this preliminary clinical study, 3 months of oral administration of ginkgo biloba significantly reduced malondialdehyde levels of erythrocytes membranes, decreased fibrinogen levels, promoted erythrocytes deformability, and improved blood viscosity and viscoelasticity, which may facilitate blood perfusion. Furthermore, this herb effectively improved retinal capillary blood flow rate in type 2 diabetic patients with retinopathy.
Researchers at six universities across the U.S., led by Dr. Steven DeKosky at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, report that elderly people taking ginkgo supplements showed no notable differences in scores on brain-function tests from people taking placebo pills. Dr. Steven DeKosky tested volunteers on a range of tasks, including memory, attention, language, and visual and spatial constructions, and found that the plant extract did little to slow the decline of these functions. Steven DeKosky admits that the study has its limitations - the subjects were more than 70 years old, and it's not clear whether ginkgo's effect on the brain may be more profound if introduced earlier. Then there is the question of exactly how ginkgo is acting on the body; if the compound works by improving circulation not just in the brain but throughout the body, for example, then this study may not have been refined enough to pick up those subtle, more indirect effects. Journal of the American Medical Association 2009.
This study included 410 patients with mild to moderate dementia who were randomized to receive either 240 mg of a gingko biloba extract (EGb 761) or placebo for 24 weeks. The results revealed that treatment appears to improve neuropsychiatry symptoms in patients with dementia. Significant improvements were seen in the symptoms of apathy / indifference, sleep / night-time behavior, irritability / lability, depression / dysphoria and aberrant motor behavior. Alleviating neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia: the effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761. Findings from a randomized controlled trial. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2011.
Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 in dementia: intent-to-treat analyses of a
24-week, multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial.
Ginkgo biloba improves cognitive function in a clinically relevant manner in patients suffering from dementia.
Peripheral artery disease, claudication
Vision and blood flow to the eyes
Individuals with diabetes mellitus have problems with circulation and increased clotting tendencies, particularly in small blood vessels. This can sometimes lead to poor vision due to small clots that form in the retina of the eye. In a recent study done in Taiwan, ginkgo biloba extract was given to type 2 diabetes mellitus patients with eye problems (retinopathy). After taking it orally for 3 months, the tendency for blood to clot was significantly reduced, red blood cells became more flexible, and blood flow to the retina of the eye was increased. When red blood cells become more flexible, they are able to squeeze through and maneuver easier through tiny blood vessels called capillaries and thus bring more oxygen to tissues and cells.
I have found ginkgo biloba to be a wonderful supplement for the treatment of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) that was do to exposure to loud noise as a teenager. I would notice a significant improvement a day or two after taking the gingko biloba (100mg 2x daily 24% standardization) and the ringing would gradually return after I would stop taking them. After using it on and off for several years the problem has faded into the background and they are now unnecessary.
Some studies do show ginkgo biloba benefit for tinnitus, although my clinical experience with this herb for tinnitus has not shown a consistent beneficial response.
How does it work?
The active ingredients are believed to have their beneficial effects by acting as antioxidants, preventing red blood cells and platelets from aggregating to form clots, allowing more oxygen to reach neurons, and improving circulation in tiny blood vessels by inducing relaxation of the muscles surrounding blood vessels. Even circulation to the eyes improves when subjects are given ginkgo.
What dosages are best?
The majority of the studies done thus far with ginkgo have used daily dosages of 120 mg (50:1 concentration, 24% flavonoids). Patients generally took 40 milligrams three to four times a day. Treatment may be needed for a few weeks before positive results can be fully appreciated. Most manufacturers have pills that contain 40 or 60 mg of ginkgo. You may wish to start with one 40 mg pill a day to see if there is any improvement in memory or thinking. Ginkgo biloba extract is best taken early in the day, and no later than afternoon. Those who take more than one pill may notice adverse reactions.
Ginkgo biloba side effects, safety, caution, danger, risk
The most common ginkgo biloba side effects are stomach or intestinal complaints, headache, and allergic skin reactions. Sometimes it can cause shallow sleep if taken late in the evening. Heart palpitations can occur with dosages higher than 40 mg. A rare adverse reaction is seizures which are more likely to occur in older individuals. Ginkgo may increase the risk of seizures in people with epilepsy and could reduce the effectiveness of anti-seizure drugs. Ginkgo biloba and ginkgotoxin. J Nat Prod. 2010.
An infrequent but potentially serious consequence is internal bleeding when it is combined with other blood thinners such as aspirin or Coumadin (and even ibuprofen). Ginkgo biloba extract has anti-platelet activity and hence may prolong the time it takes to form a blood clot. However, a study published in 2003 indicates that Coenzyme Q10 and Ginkgo biloba do not influence the clinical effect of warfarin. An additional study did not find ginkgo to alter platelet function or coagulation time. Just to be cautious, at this time those who take aspirin or Coumadin should be very careful and discuss with their doctor before they use this herbal extract or any product that contains ginkgo.
Benefit and review
Ginkgo biloba appears to benefit some people with memory loss due to aging or Alzheimer's disease, but is probably of little benefit in the young who have normal brain function and memory. Middle aged and older individuals may find the use of ginkgo to be helpful in sharpening the mind, vision, or sexual enhancement.
Because of its antioxidant properties, it may be useful in individuals with cerebrovascular disease. Due to its blood thinning properties, and potential to cause heart rhythm disturbances, a dose of 40 mg a day should not be exceeded on a daily, long-term basis unless a health care provider monitors you. Keep in mind that other nutrients and drugs have blood-thinning properties including Coumadin, aspirin, fish oils, and vinpocetine.
Research studies - Salisburia adiantifolia
Electrophysiological analysis of the effects of ginkgo biloba on visual processing in older healthy adults.
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2005.
Several studies have tested the efficacy of ginkgo biloba extract using compromised visual systems and have found improvement in vision.
The effect of ginkgo biloba extract on healthy elderly subjects
Fortschr Med Orig. 2003.
The study included 66 healthy subjects of both sexes aged between 50 and 65 with no age-related cognitive impairments. For a period of 4 weeks, 34 subjects received a daily dose of 240 mg ginkgo biloba , and 32 a placebo. The results suggest a positive effect of ginkgo biloba on the subjective emotional well-being of healthy elderly persons.
GINKGO herb 50:1 standardized, extract, containing 24% ginkgoflavonglycosides. Extracts Egb 761 and LI 1370, contain ginkgo flavonol glycosides 16-25 % and terpene trilactones 6%. Ginkgo does not inhibit MAO A or B. Ginkgolides are potent inhibitor of Platelet Activating Factor.
Trademarked Ginkgo products: (
latin name is Salisburia adiantifolia )
BioGinkgo 27/7 by Pharmanex (Utah)
Blackmore's Ginkgo Biloba Forte by Blackmores (Australia)
EGb 761 - Ginkgoba - by Dr. Willmar Schwabe (Germany)
Tanakan by Ipsen Boufour (France)
I am having much difficulty finding a mind boosting product that has ingredients that are safe enough to be used by breast cancer survivors. I finished radiation treatments in 07. I was taking ginkgo biloba which worked so well for me and I also felt better. Then I discovered that it had estrogenic like effects on the body and I stopped taking them because my cancer was 80% ER positive, and 10% progesterone positive. I am so frustrated. Its as if estrogen receptor positive breast cancer survivors are overlooked when it comes to this.
I have not seen any research to indicate ginkgo biloba causes harm to those with breast cancer. One study concludes, "Ginkgo biloba extract can be considered as a potential alternative to HRT with chemopreventive effects on breast cancer. However, further studies on animals and humans will be required." J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Aug;100(4-5):167-76. Another study says, "In humans, Ginkgo extracts inhibit the formation of radiation-induced (chromosome-damaging) clastogenic factors and ultraviolet light-induced oxidative stress - effects that may also be associated with anticancer activity. Flavonoid and terpenoid constituents of Ginkgo extracts may act in a complementary manner to inhibit several carcinogenesis-related processes, and therefore the total extracts may be required for producing optimal effects." Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2003. Since human studies regarding various herbs and breast cancer are in short supply, it is premature to jump to conclusions regarding the role of a particular herb in being beneficial or harmful for breast cancer survivors. There's much yet that is not known. There are many factors that influence cancer cell growth or inhibition and herbs have dozens or hundreds of compounds in them that influence various stages of cancer growth or inhibition. In most cases, herbs have anti-cancer benefits.
often misspelled as gingko or ginkgo baloba