Ginkgo Biloba Benefits, Uses and Side Effects 2016 Guide

Jessica Lewis
August 5, 2016

Nature has evolved in some ways and regressed in others, but some things remained unchanged and still manage to surprise us. We can consider some herbs true gifts of nature because they are a source of food and health for people from ancient times. Some of the most impressive nature’s gift is Ginkgo Biloba – a unique tree with a history that dates for centuries. People see this tree as one of the wonders of the world and could be one of the oldest living seed.

Ginkgo Biloba Nature’s Miracle

A Ginkgo Biloba tree can grow more than 130 feet and can live for more than one thousand years. We can find in China some trees that have more than 2,500 years old. People had used it for centuries to protect their health and treat themselves, but also as a food source because we can consume the Ginkgo nuts in certain amounts.

Origins of Ginkgo Biloba

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center reports, Ginkgo Biloba is the oldest species of tree on the globe. Nowadays is a natural treatment preferred by people worldwide for its many therapeutic qualities. Also, called maidenhair tree, Ginkgo is often considered a “living fossil” because of its great history, being the only survivor of an ancient group of trees that are older than dinosaurs.

Ginkgo tree is the only living connection between ferns and conifers, which represents “higher” and “lower” plants. Being native to Southeast Asia, the tree was brought to the United States in the 1700s and today we often see it used as a street tree because it can tolerate pollution. The first trees were planted in 1691 when the German botanist named Engelbert Kaempfer brought the seeds to Holland.

Due to its impressive history, many interesting things have happened over time and had the Ginkgo tree as a protagonist. Therefore, a Ginkgo tree survived the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in the Second World War.

The centuries in which the tree had been used therapeutically in various forms and the good results obtained places it among the most popular natural treatments from around the world and recommends it against some of the most common ailments.

Components in Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba has an impressive composition, as research shows it. It contains flavonoids and terpenoids, which have potent therapeutic properties. Flavonoids from Ginkgo, called Ginkgolide, are powerful antioxidants that boost immunity and reduce the risk of metastasis.

One of the most important flavonoid we find in the composition of Ginkgo is quercetin, which is an antioxidant stronger than vitamin E, but equally important are flavonoids kaempferol and isorhamnetin.

The most important components exist in the Ginkgo leaf. Along with flavonoids, Ginkgo contains polyphenols, benzoic acid derivatives, carotenoids, ginkgolic acid, steroids sitosterol and stigmasterol. In the seed of Ginkgo, we find carbohydrate, proteins, amino acids, fatty acid, tannin, and resin. All these components offer incredible therapeutic effects, which researchers continue to study.

Brain benefits

People who want to boost their memory and to protect their brain should try using Ginkgo Biloba. According to the World Health Organization, Ginkgo helps patients with cerebrovascular insufficiency that leads to poor concentration and memory, as well as headaches.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

Europeans use it to treat dementia and recent research show it can protect nerve cells destroyed in Alzheimer disease. It can improve memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia; it improves blood flow to the brain, but also improves thinking, memory and learning. It is easier for patients with Alzheimer to improve their social behavior and to perform daily activities if they use Ginkgo Biloba.

According to more than 300 studies, Ginkgo improves blood flow in the entire body and is a powerful ally of a healthy brain. Even though it is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, is effective in reducing cognitive decline and improves memory, as well as cognitive performance in older and younger adults. Many studies show that it can reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms in patients that take a standard treatment with cholinesterase inhibitor drugs.

Studies had proved that Ginkgo is more efficient in reducing the symptoms of early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but also in preventing it.

Traumatic brain injuries

People who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries can use Ginkgo Biloba to improve their recovery. The research from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine discovered that Ginkgo Biloba extract could improve cognitive functions in patients with neurological impairment.

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is connected to the lack of dopamine, which causes stiffness, shaking and difficulty with muscle coordination. Because it increases blood flow to the brain, specialists believe that it can reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and improve the use of dopamine, to reach the areas when it is necessary.

Memory and cognitive functions

Even healthy people need a boost in improving their memory and cognitive abilities. Ginkgo increases the levels of oxygen in the brain and improves the assimilation and utilization of glucose, which boosts the brain metabolism and energy. Since 1988, Hindmarch has proven that the extract of ginkgo can improve memory. The study conducted on young volunteers analyzed the effects of standardized Ginkgo Biloba extract on short-term memory.

Hindmarch had discovered that using an oral dose of 600 mg Ginkgo Biloba extract can improve short-term memory. Because it has great brain-boosting effects, we find Ginkgo added in various healthy snacks and dietary supplements.

Elderly patients with a decrease of their cognitive functions can use Ginkgo to reduce memory loss, increase alertness and reduce mood swings, only by taking 160 mg of extract daily for a year, according to a study. 58 percent of the patients who received the extract experience an improvement in their cognitive functions, compared to 43 percent of patients taken the placebo.

Improves mood

Having a low mood happens to all of us at a certain point in our lives. When a simple, sad feeling leads to unhappiness, hopelessness, guilt, irritation, anxiety and anger, it means that our situation is worse, and it is better to seek help because we might face an unpleasant depression.

Sometimes, the help we need can be complete with an effective herb extract, such as an extract of Ginkgo Biloba.

Ginkgo Biloba and Depression

According to a study published in “Phototherapy Research” in November 2007, the lipophilic extracts of Ginkgo Biloba leaves have antidepressant and anti-stress effects. Another study published in 2005 in the “Chinese Medical Journal” proved that by combining Ginkgo Biloba and the antidepressant drug venlafaxine, it reduces the brain damage produced by stress, which can be a risk factor for the appearance of depression.

We need a clear mind if we want to fight depression, but Ginkgo helps us clear our mind and balances the level of serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter responsible for controlling emotions, thought and behavior. By balancing the levels of serotonin, we are closer to fighting depression and improve mood.


Anxiety is very common today and people everywhere try to fight it, but it is not always easy. When anxiety wins may lead to panic attacks, which severely affect one’s life. In order to get rid of stress, we can use different medication, therapy, but also herbs, such as natural extracts of Ginkgo Biloba.

This is effective in fighting anxiety because it improves brain circulation, elevates mood. In addition, a study in which researchers used a unique Ginkgo Biloba extracts called EGB 761 showed that in can help people to treat anxiety.

Ginkgo Biloba has the ability to help us deal better with stress and counteract the effects of high levels of stress hormone, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Because it is an excellent adaptogen, help us face the adverse effects or worries and stress. This increases our chance to stay away from anxiety and improves the quality of our life.

PMS syndrome

PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder affects women a week or two before their menstrual period. Unfortunately, the symptoms of PMS syndrome are not easy to take and they include anxiety, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and the unpleasant mood swings.

Recent research shows that women can use Ginkgo to reduce these symptoms and to improve mood and cognition in postmenopausal women. These women may experience symptoms similar to PMS syndrome and Ginkgo extract helps them reduce symptoms and feel better.

A study published in 2008 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine analyzed the effects of Ginkgo on women with PMS syndrome for a period of six months. The group that used Ginkgo Biloba for half of year and took 40 mg of the extract experienced an improving of their symptoms compared to women who took a placebo. Ginkgo can help women prevent and reduce the symptoms of PMS, allowing them to feel better in a delicate period that affects their lives every month.

Improves eyes health

Ginkgo Biloba proven to be effective in protecting eyes health, due to its potent antioxidant properties that protects the ocular system from oxidative stress. It is enough to take Ginkgo daily to notice an improvement in eyesight and prevent the appearance of different eye problems. People can use it to relieve glaucoma, which is a group of eye problems characterized by an increased pressure in the eyeball.

Sometimes, it is related to damaging the optic nerve and retina.
Ginkgo Biloba is effective in reducing pressure within the eyeball increases chances of preventing blindness related to glaucoma in older patients. Ginkgo extract also helps in offering a relief for patients with macular degeneration and cataracts. Macular degeneration leads to the deterioration of the macula, which causes a loss of the ability to focus and central vision.

Cardioprotective effects

An unhealthy lifestyle characterized by sedentary, smoking and the use of saturated fat and processed foods increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Our heart is sensitive and we need to accurately control the blood pressure, as well as the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, if we want to prevent one of the most common heart diseases, including atherosclerosis and heart attack.

Heart attack and stroke

Among the incredible therapeutic qualities of Ginkgo Biloba, we find its ability to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. When heart attack occurs, it means that a coronary artery is completely blocked and supplying blood to the heart is impossible. Ginkgo inhibits the unhealthy formation of blood clots and improves blood flow and oxygenation.

When an artery in the brain becomes blocked or when the blood vessels break, people suffer a stroke, in which there is no blood flow to an area of the brain. With no blood flow to certain areas of the brain, it destroys brain cells in the vicinity and affects the function controlled by the affected cells. Ginkgo can prevent both heart attacks and strokes. It is an excellent blood thinner, it reduces blood pressure and prevents the restriction of the blood vessels.

Vascular diseases

Vascular diseases are affecting the blood vessels outside the brain and the heart. It typically manifests through narrowing the vessels that carry blood to the arms, stomach, kidney and legs. Patients with a vascular disease experience unpleasant pain, but Ginkgo can help them improve their condition.

A health problem similar to a vascular disease is intermittent claudication, produced by an abnormal blood flow to the leg muscles. It often happens when exercise or walking and causes pain the legs, but also muscle cramping and lameness.

Because it has excellent antioxidant properties, Ginkgo prevent vascular disease and increases blood flow, allowing the oxygen to be actually carried to the blood vessel and muscle tissue. Also, it inhibits lipid peroxidation, which prevents the formation of free radicals. Due to all these effects of Ginkgo, people can use it to relieve varicose veins, hemorrhoids or insufficient circulation.

Cancer prevention

Cancer is a frightening disease that affects people of all ages and can evolve surprisingly, being curable in some cases and incurable in others. Because of various types of cancer aggressiveness, it is important to prevent them and Ginkgo Biloba can help us. It is useful in cancer prevention because it is rich in antioxidants, such as terpenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenolic compounds.

Using Ginkgo Biloba against cancer, it eliminates free radicals from the body and protects it from dangerous products from attacking the healthy cells. The antioxidants from the composition of Ginkgo are incredibly powerful to protect our body from the formation of cancer cells and the installation of chronic diseases.

Terpenoids and flavonoids from Ginkgo Biloba prevent the damage of cell DNA and the steroid-like substances beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol has potent anti-inflammatory properties.

A study published in 2003 in Fundamental and Clinical Pharmacology showed that the terpenoid ginkgolide B could inhibit the multiplication of breast cancer cells. Another study showed that using Ginkgo Biloba for a month in patients with gastric cancer reduced the area of the tumors by 73 percent. Other studies demonstrate the ability of Ginkgo to fight different types of cancer, such as ovarian cancer. Specialists need more research to prove Ginkgo ability to fight cancer, but the results obtained so far show that it could be a reliable support against this merciless disease.

Ginkgo Biloba Anti-Aging Benefits

It could be a miracle if you were able to remain young for the rest of our lives. Even though it is impossible to prevent aging, we can slow it down and prevent premature aging, which is very common today. The antioxidants in Ginkgo help us remain younger for a longer period because they can maintain skin’s firmness and elasticity.

As we age, we become more sensitive to free radicals and mitochondria is less efficient in producing energy. This leads to memory loss and other signs associated with aging, but recent studies show that Ginkgo Biloba extract is effective in protecting mitochondria from aging. So, if you want to be healthy and feel younger even when you are older, using Ginkgo could be a good idea.

Asthma and allergies

Ginkgolides from Ginkgo Biloba can inhibit the inflammation that affects the respiratory system, offering as relief in both asthma and allergies. According to recent research in Turkey, Ginkgo can improve asthma. Even though another research is needed, the results obtained so far are encouraging. Chinese used Ginkgo to treat asthma for a long time; it is effective in relieving the airway spasms and wheezing associated with these medical conditions.

Although Ginkgo is recommended for patients with asthma, it isn’t advised to use it when an acute attack occurs.


It is true that tinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom of nerve damage of as specific blood vessel disorder. It manifests through hissing, ringing and any other type of sound in the years or head, when there isn’t any external noise present. In 1986, Christopher Hobbs proved the effectiveness of Ginkgo in treating. Using Ginkgo had an impressive success rate of improved hearing and relieving tinnitus of 82 percent. Due to its effectiveness, the fact that is less expensive and with a few mild side effects, people with tinnitus prefer it, in detriment of expensive medications.

Relieve impotence

The inappropriate oxygen flow and atherosclerosis are two of the factors that may lead to impotence. Due to some studies that had been conducted until the present day, researchers think that Ginkgo Biloba can be useful for patients with infertility. Patients that participated in a study published in the Journal of Sex Education and Therapy in 1991 regained erections following the six months of the treatment, without experiencing any side effect.

Another study used ultrasound examination of sixty impotent men who took Ginkgo Biloba and noticed how the treatment had improved penile blood circulation after six weeks. After six months of the treatment, 50 percent of the patient to received Ginkgo Biloba had regained potency.

Possible side effects of Ginkgo Biloba

Using Ginkgo Biloba is completely safe for most people if taken in the appropriate doses. Some people may experience mild side effects, such as a headache, constipation, dizziness, stomach upset and allergic skin reactions. Patients with a bleeding disorder shouldn’t use it because it can increase bleeding.

If you have diabetes, Ginkgo could interfere with the control of glucose, so it is better to monitor your blood sugar carefully. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says the Ginkgo used as a supplement produce nausea while you use it for the first time. Nausea will be a mild symptom and will disappear soon.

Ginkgo Biloba is safe to use, with no severe side effects. When side effects occur, they aren’t life threatening, so that many people can safely use Ginkgo Biloba to improve their health.