Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)


Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is one of the world’s oldest surviving tree species. Chinese herbal medicine has used both the ginkgo leaf and seed for thousands of years, modern research has focused on the standardized Ginkgo biloba extract made from the dried green leaves.

Laboratory studies have shown that ginkgo improves blood circulation by opening up blood vessels and making blood less sticky. It is also an antioxidant. Ginkgo is used for the treatment of numerous conditions, many of which are under scientific investigation.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, based on studies conducted in laboratories, animals, and people, ginkgo is used for the following:

  • Dementia and Alzheimer disease
  • Intermittent claudication
  • Anxiety
  • Glaucoma
  • Memory and thinking
  • Macular degeneration
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon

According to Mayo Clinic, Grade B evidence (Good scientific evidence) are available to support ginkgo for managing the following:

  • Cerebral insufficiency (insufficient blood flow to the brain)
  • Dementia
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Grade C evidence (Conflicting scientific evidence) are available to support ginkgo for managing the following:

  • Altitude (mountain) sickness
  • Asthma
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cancer prevention
  • Chemotherapy side effects reduction
  • Chronic cochleovestibular disorders (ear disorder)
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (damaged vein valves)
  • Claudication (painful legs from clogged arteries)
  • Cocaine dependence
  • Cognitive performance
  • Decreased libido and erectile dysfunction
  • Depression and seasonal affective disorder
  • Diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease)
  • Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Dyslexia
  • Exercise performance
  • Fibromyalgia (nervous system disorder)
  • Glaucoma (increased eye pressure)
  • Graves’ disease (thyroid disorder)
  • Hearing loss
  • Heart disease
  • Hemorrhoids
  • High blood sugar/glucose intolerance
  • Macular degeneration (eye disease)
  • Memory enhancement (in healthy people)
  • Mental performance (after eating)
  • Migraine
  • Mood and cognition in post-menopausal women
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Ocular allergy (eye allergy)
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Pulmonary interstitial fibrosis (scarred lung tissue)
  • Quality of life
  • Retinopathy (eye damage from type 2 diabetes)
  • Skin aging
  • Smell disorders
  • Stomach cancer
  • Stroke recovery
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Vertigo (dizziness)
  • Vitiligo (lack of skin pigmentation)

(Natural Standard evidence-based validated grading rationale)

Although ginkgo is generally well tolerated, it should be used cautiously in people with clotting disorders or taking blood thinners, or prior to some surgical or dental procedures, due to reports of bleeding. For detailed precautions and possible interactions, please refer to University of Maryland Medical Center and Mayo Clinic.

The safety and effectiveness of ginkgo have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious,  and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.