Ginkgo Biloba Review – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects

Ginkgo biloba, one of the plant extracts is being used as a therapeutic medicine singe years. This plant-based extract which is native to China is improves blood circulation, offers nootropic properties and treats some of the disorders related to eye. Read more to find out this magical supplement!

The brain is one of the largest and most complex organs in the human body. And whether you are an aging adult who is worried about dementia or a student looking out there to ace exams, the concept of consuming nootropics to improve your brain power may sound enticing. 

So it’s not surprising that cognitive enhancers are becoming more popular day by day. But the real question is do they really work and are they safe?

One such smart drug that we will discuss today is Ginkgo Biloba which is a top-selling supplement containing an extract that comes from a tree named maidenhair tree. The tree species dates back to when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

Ginkgo Biloba has over forty components, but two in specific—flavonoids and terpenoids—have been found to be beneficial to multiple parts of the body and help with cognitive function.

Keep reading this Ginkgo Biloba review can benefit your body.

What is Ginkgo Biloba? 

Ginkgo Biloba is a large tree with fan-shaped leaves native to china (1). Because it dates back 200 million years, it is also called a “living fossil”.

Ginkgo Biloba Review
Figure 1: The fan-shaped leaves of the Ginkgo Biloba

On top of this, it has been used in Chinese medicine for over a thousand years but has only over the recent decades made its way into modern medicine.

The extract is most often taken orally to deal with Alzheimer’s, dementia, anxiety, and a number of other health issues.

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How Does it Work? 

Ginkgo has components like flavonoids and terpenoids that have strong antioxidant properties and are capable of dilating blood vessels and reducing the “stickiness” of platelets (2). 

Moreover, antioxidants in ginkgo counteract free radicals, chemicals that can harm cells. They occur as a result of exercise and your body’s usage of food for energy. Free radicals are also produced by cigarette smoke, pollution, and sunlight.

A study discovered that people who consumed the extract showed fewer indicators of dementia than those who did not.

Benefits 

Boosts Circulation

Ginkgo has been partly known for increasing vascular dilation. This dilation allows for better blood flow through the vessels, increasing the amount of blood and oxygen circulating in the body. Ginkgo Biloba also makes blood less sticky, which further increases blood flow.

In studies, Ginkgo has been found to be most helpful to those who have diseases that lead to intermittent claudication (3). 

In one such study, researchers found that people with intermittent claudication who took Ginkgo Biloba for 24 weeks could walk pain-free five times further than those with intermittent claudication who took a placebo. Quite fascinating, right?

Improves Cognition and Memory

The more blood and oxygen you have flowing to your brain, the better it will perform. In fact, its role in improving cognitive functions is probably what researchers have studied Ginkgo Biloba for the most, and it is also why most people use it.

The extracts from the Ginkgo leaves boosts your ability to learn and recall facts faster, as well as improve the brain’s ability to form and store memories (4). 

Studies have even shown that Ginkgo can also help slow the progression of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The findings of these studies suggest that the extract might help Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients with the following:

  • Thinking, learning, and cognitive function
  • Performing daily activities
  • Socialization
  • Fewer depressive feelings

Ginkgo is not only a healthy and natural way to improve cognitive function and memory; it is also a safe way to do so.

Relieves Stress

Ginkgo is an adaptogen, meaning it increases the body’s coping abilities, especially when it comes to stress which is caused by elevated levels of cortisol in the brain (5). 

Ginkgo positively affects the body’s ability to handle stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the brain.

Anxiolytic Properties 

Ginkgo is gaining traction as an option to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. It has shown a degree of effectiveness when administered to elderly patients suffering from both anxiety and adjustment disorders. 

One more study showed Ginkgo to also be effective in treating anxiety symptoms in those who have mental decline.

Depression

Ginkgo has also been shown to help with depression because of the mood-boosting qualities of its components that help increase levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain bringing about a positive impact on overall mood.

Boosts Energy

Fatigue is another area of expertise for this herb. When fatigued, you put your adrenal glands under a lot of stress. This can lead to an increase in free radicals, which is known as oxidative stress. This can damage or kill cells within the body when they react with the radicals.

Researchers have found that Ginkgo Biloba can help protect the adrenal glands, the brain, and the liver from free radicals. And decrease in oxidative stress, combating fatigue.

Improves Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder

A very common disorder among children is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The most prescribed medications for which are Adderall and Ritalin. However, these medicines leave the children in a fog and have a number of side effects as well.

Ginkgo Biloba is a natural substance that helps fill the gaps that medicines and therapies don’t, because it is natural, there are very few side effects (6). Ginkgo helps improve concentration, cognition, and memory, to treat symptoms of ADD, such as inattentiveness and hyperactivity. 

A German study of 20 children showed that Ginkgo effectively treated their ADD symptoms.

Helps Maintain Eye Health

As mentioned earlier, Ginkgo helps improve blood flow. One of the areas of the body that benefits from this increase in blood flow is the eyes (7). A study has revealed that Ginkgo can help enhance the vision of patients with glaucoma. Another research suggests that it may also help lower the risk of macular degeneration.

Ginkgo is high in antioxidants, thus increasing the body’s ability to defend against oxidative stress, which can harm the retina, and other parts of the eye, causing many of the common eye problems we see in older adults.

Improves Mood

Another exciting benefit of Ginkgo is that it has mood-boosting capabilities. Many components found in Ginkgo work like Monoamine Oxidase (MAO) inhibitors increasing the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain.

A study showed that Ginkgo could positively impact both mood and attention aspects in healthy subjects. When compared to the control, subjective intensity mood scores showed significant variance.

A group of older volunteers that were studied showed that Ginkgo Biloba could improve both mood and self-assessed-task performance.

Another point about Ginkgo is that it could potentially benefit postmenopausal women as well. Regarding control of cognition and mood, ginkgo was found to have a positive effect.

Ginkgo Biloba Dosage 

Although there is no fixed or standardized dose for ginkgo, a dose of 120-240mg taken orally and in a divided dose of 2 or 3 times daily, for up six months proves to be effective for most people.

Considering the fact that ginkgo is a nootropic it is always best to start with small doses and build up to the optimal dosage.

Potential side effects 

Just like any other drug, Ginkgo too has a list of side effects that may be observed in the consumers, which are as follows:

  • Allergic reactions to the skin
  • constipation Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Seizures
  • Restlessness 
  • Dizziness
  • weakness

User Reviews and Experiences

Now let’s look at some anecdotal evidence about Ginkgo Biloba and figure out whether this evidence backs up the scientific evidence. 

Darkta, one of the Reddit user says, 

“Ginkgo is a very effective nootropic, but it seems to me that most people don’t dose it right or confuse the 50:1 extract with just the dry powdered ginkgo. I had an acute effect on cognition with doses of 150mg of 50:1 extract.”

The ReviewNinja left a comment saying, 

“I’ve tried Ginkgo Biloba, and I get this interestingly mild head rush from it. I can’t say if it is improving my cognition significantly, but it certainly has an active effect on the body. That’s why I want to ask you all what you think.”

Another anonymous user had a mixed opinion and says, 

“Ginkgo Biloba does not have a strong effect on cognition from all the studies I have seen. The only positive I have seen is that it improves blood flow.”

One of the Reddit users, grlndamoon says, 

“Ginkgo definitely helps me remember things. I tend to have poor short-term memory, aka, don’t forget to bring this item with me today – walks out the door – forgets item.

Definitely been much better with that sort of stuff since taking ginkgo.”

Rocklobster454 also has something to say regarding the benefits Ginkgo Biloba offers. He said, 

“This is one of the more common one’s but the more I read into it the more interested I am. Not sure why I never considered it. Supposed to be good for proper dopamine function, allegedly used for anxiety and depression, good for circulation, good for cognition and memory, etc.”

Therefore, it seems that Ginkgo Biloba is generally advantageous with fewer chances of adverse effects.

Where to Buy? 

Surprisingly, I didn’t find many vendors selling Ginkgo Biloba. This may be due to difficulty in sourcing this plant extract or any legal issues. 

Nonetheless, I found two premium options for you from where you can buy use this nootropic cum plant-based supplement. 

Ginkgo Biloba Capsules by Pure Nootropics

Pure Nootropics offer Ginkgo Biloba capsules at a price of $14.99. 

The bottle contains 200 capsules constituting 180mg which is usually the recommended dosage of Ginkgo Capsules, thus one bottle can last for around a couple of months. 

Pure Nootropics provide a certificate of analysis as well, therefore establishing the credibility and originality of the product. 

With multiple payment options, such as Bitcoin, Visa card, and Mastercard, I think Pure Nootropics seem to be a feasible option to make your purchase.

Pros

  • Enough to last for 3 months 
  • Certificate of Analysis provided 
  • Economical

Cons

  • Only capsule form 
  • Few customer reviews 

Comparisons to Other Nootropics

Ginkgo Biloba Vs Gotu Kola

Each of these two well-known herbs is frequently combined for improved effects as a potent brain tonic. Ginkgo Biloba’s benefits include improved circulation and memory, which complement Gotu Kola‘s benefits as a brain stimulant and nervous system relaxant.

Natural healers refer to Gotu Kola as the “Fountain of Life,” and with good cause.

Just like Ginkgo Biloba, Gotu Kola can also be consumed in a variety of ways, but the most convenient is to use a powder supplement that you can mix into your drink to make tea.

Unlike Ginkgo Biloba, capsule forms of Gotu Kola are not available and it is relatively expensive. 

Moreover, both supplements show potential in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

The usual dose of Gotu Kola is 1.5g – 4g/day whereas 20-240mg of Ginkgo Biloba is needed.

Both Ginkgo Biloba extract and Gotu kola are well tolerated when taken orally. They work well together and seem to promote and increase the healing properties of one another.

Is Ginkgo Biloba legit?

Ginkgo Biloba has an extensive history of being used for medicinal purposes to a greater extent. It is a natural substance, and as such, does not have many harmful side effects.

 It can, however, increase circulation, improve cognition, boost energy; help deal with ailments such as glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, and macular degeneration; and treat the symptoms of ADD, asthma, and anxiety.

Ginkgo Biloba can be taken in a number of different ways. It comes in capsules and tablets, soaps and shampoos, or liquid extract. It is also available as powders and drinks.

Ginkgo Biloba is a “go-to” supplement if you want to treat dementia or boost brain power, however before using any form of ginkgo be sure to consult your doctor as it may interact adversely with some drugs you might be using. 

Frequently asked questions 

What is Ginkgo Biloba good for?

Ginkgo has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It boosts circulation and cognitive functions helping manage symptoms of Alzheimer’s. It also helps with anxiety and depression by uplifting the overall mood.

Can Ginkgo make you sleepy?

As ginkgo helps reduce stress and promotes relaxation along with helping with anxiety and depression, it can promote sleep.

What is the dosage for Ginkgo Biloba?

There is no standardized dosage for Ginkgo Biloba, however, 120-240 mg broken into two or three doses per day works best for most people.

Can Ginkgo be harmful?

Large amounts of ginkgo toxin can cause seizures. Do not take ginkgo if you are older, have a blood issue, or are pregnant. The supplement could make you more prone to bleeding.

Does Ginkgo Biloba raise blood pressure?

Ginkgo may lower blood pressure, therefore using it with blood pressure drugs could result in dangerously low blood pressure.

How long does it take for Ginkgo Biloba to start working?

It appears to take 4 to 6 weeks before improvements are noticed.

Do doctors recommend Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo Biloba has been studied extensively for its usefulness in the treatment of cerebrovascular illness and dementia, and systematic reviews suggest that the plant can help with dementia symptoms.

Is Ginkgo Biloba good for energy

It does help in memory boosting properties and in the regulation of cerebral glucose/energy metabolism.

Is Ginkgo Biloba safe for elderly?

Ginkgo is ineffective as a treatment for mild to moderate dementia or age-related memory loss in older people.

Does Ginkgo Biloba dissolve blood clots?

According to one 2019 study in Bioorganic Chemistry, several compounds in Ginkgo Biloba may block thrombin, an enzyme that causes blood clotting.

Is Ginkgo Biloba good for anxiety?

People with a generalized anxiety disorder who took ginkgo saw more anxiety alleviation than those who took a placebo, according to research published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. 

1)https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Ginkgolide-B
2)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23538078/
3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15549661/
4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27414695/
5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16243535/
6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19441138/
7)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7299225/

Kartik Kumar Rathi

Kartik is a Doctor in training currently in his second year of medical school with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful cardiologist, he currently contributes to health blogs, research papers and also founded a social health startup to help educate others.

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