15 Ginkgo Biloba Benefits and Side Effects

15 Ginkgo Biloba Benefits and Side Effects

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species. Extracts of this plant can have positive effects on cognition, memory, blood flow, mood, and oxidative stress . Continue to read to know more about the other potential health benefits of ginkgo. What Is Ginkgo Biloba ?

Ginkgo biloba , known as gingko or maidenhair tree, is the only living species of the division Ginkgophyta , all the other members of which have gone extinct. For this reason, it has been referred to as a “living fossil”. Native to China, its seeds have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years and occasionally eaten when cooked [ 1 ].

Ginkgo leaf extract has historically been used to treat a variety of ailments and conditions including asthma, bronchitis, and fatigue. Ginkgo extracts are also used in skin products [ 1 ].

EGb 761 is a standardized extract of Ginkgo biloba leaves with antioxidant properties as a free radical scavenger. It was developed by Dr. Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals and has been available in Europe as a herbal extract since the early 1990s [ 2 ].

In Norway, ginkgo leaf extract products are approved by the Norwegian Medicines Agency to improve blood circulation [ 3 ]. Snapshot



May improve cognitive function and reduce cognitive decline

May improve blood flow and prevent blood clots

May help with anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia

May help with eye and hearing problems

May improve skin appearance

May help with diabetes and its complications


Insufficient evidence for several benefits

May cause bleeding and interact with anticoagulant and anti-platelet medication

Not safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women

Nuts and seeds are toxic

Health Benefits

Possibly Effective for:

1) Brain Function

Healthy People

In 4 trials on over 200 healthy young volunteers, ginkgo extract improved sustained attention (but not speed of attention), pattern recognition, and performance in subtraction tasks . However, only its acute administration was effective , suggesting that the participants developed tolerance [ 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 ].

Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) improved memory and executive function in 5 clinical trials on over 500 healthy, middle-aged volunteers [ 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 ].

In 3 trials on over 300 cognitively intact elderly people , ginkgo extract improved delayed free recall, recognition memory, speed of information processing, and overall cognitive functioning [ 13 , 14 , 15 ].

However, ginkgo extract had no effect on learning, memory, attention, concentration, and verbal fluency in 2 other trials on over 200 elderly people without cognitive impairment [ 16 , 17 ]. People with Cognitive Impairment In 3 clinical trials on over 100 people with mild cognitive impairment , ginkgo extract improved cognitive flexibility, response inhibition, dual-task gait performance, and general cognitive performance [ 18 , 19 , 20 ].In clinical trials on 820 people with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia (e.g., vascular), Ginkgo biloba extract improved cognitive function, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and functional abilities [ 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 ]However, it was ineffective in 2 trials on over 400 elderly people with dementia and age-associated memory impairment [ 25 , 26 ].A meta-analysis of 13 studies and over 2,300 people concluded that a 240-mg daily dose of ginkgo extract was safe and effective in the treatment of dementia [ 27 ].In any case, ginkgo extract seems ineffective at preventing Alzheimer’s or dementia based on the results of 3 studies on over 6,000 people [ 28 , 29 , 30 ].In rats and mice, Ginkgo biloba extract improved cognitive impairment due to aging, reduced oxygen supply to the brain, repeated stimulation of glutamate receptors, and fluoride and aluminum poisoning [ 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 ].Additionally, EGb 761 extract reduced the damage to midbrain dopamine brain cells in animal models of Parkinson’s disease [ 35 ].Taken together, the evidence suggests that ginkgo extract may help enhance cognitive function in healthy people and reduce cognitive impairment symptoms in people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. You may discuss with your doctor if you may use this supplement as a cognitive enhancer or give it to your loved ones with cognitive impairment. 2) Blood Flow In a small trial on 16 healthy volunteers, Gingko biloba extract increased circulation in the forearm without changing overall blood pressure levels. In another trial on 70 healthy volunteers, EGb 761 extract prevented the rise of blood pressure caused by stress [ 36 , 37 ].Ginkgo extract also increased microcirculation in the skin and liver in a clinical trial on 32 elderly people [ 38 ].In a clinical trial on 80 people with coronary artery disease, ginkgo extract improved coronary blood flow . The extract was similarly effective in another trial on 60 healthy elderly people [ 39 , 40 ].Similarly, ginkgo extract improved blood flow to the brain, thus reducing the risk of stroke , in a clinical trial on 60 people with poor blood flow due to surgery [ 41 ].It also increased blood flow in the eyes in 3 clinical trials on 86 people, suggesting its potential to help with conditions such as glaucoma [ 42 , 43 , 44 ]. Ginkgo biloba improved blood flow and walking distance in 2 clinical trials on over 100 people with peripheral arterial insufficiency . However, ginkgo extract was i neffective in another trial on 22 people with this condition [ 45 , 46 , 47 ].In a clinical trial on 24 people with clogged arteries, Ginkgo biloba along with parenteral therapy decreased collagen -induced blood clotting [ 48 ].In another trial on 66 chronic peritoneal dialysis patients, Ginkgo biloba r eversed the blood clotting profile without increasing the risk of bleeding [ 49 ]. Ginkgo biloba extract prevented platelets from clumping together in both platelet-rich and whole blood [ 50 ].However, EGb 761 extract had no effect on blood clotting in 2 clinical trials on 82 healthy people [ 51 , 52 ].All […]

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