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Introduction

Native to China, this widely cultivated tree dates back over 270 million years and is traditionally used in Chinese medicine, as well as being a food source for some.

Ginkgo biloba is a popular supplement and one of the top-selling herbal medicines. Ginkgo biloba extract is collected from the dried green leaves of the plant and is available as liquid extracts, capsules, and tablets. People use it for a variety of reasons.

The Bottom Line – A supplement extracted from the Ginkgo tree native to China and used for a variety of medicinal purposes.

Ginkgo Biloba Health Benefits

There are three main health benefits that can be attributed to supplementing Ginkgo Biloba Extract including improved blood flow (specifically to the brain), reducing the impact or progression of the neurodegenerative disease Alzheimer’s, and a boost in female sex drive.

While research into these areas was predominantly carried out on a small cross section to gather results, the findings are still noteworthy.

Researchers have studied ginkgo for many other conditions, including ADHD, depression and other psychological conditions, multiple sclerosis, and tinnitus from a vascular origin. Some people are also using ginkgo to prevent high altitude sickness, though studies have not yet established that it’s effective for that.

Below is a list of the possible benefits we’ve found:

Ginkgo Biloba Can Help With Blood Circulation

A study carried out in 2011 by the Department of Radiology, Division of Neuroradiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine involving nine healthy men designed to examine the effect of Ginkgo Biloba Extract on cerebral blood flow found that by supplementing 60mg a day over a period of 4 weeks can in fact help to increase cerebral blood flow (CBF).

This could have a wide range of increased health benefits including improved cognitive function, memory, and contribute to overall brain health. [1]

Ginkgo Biloba Can Inhibit Progression of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62 percent of those diagnosed. Other types of dementia include; vascular dementia affecting 17 percent of those diagnosed, mixed dementia affecting 10 percent of those diagnosed.

There are currently many treatments in development to try and tackle this neurodegenerative disease and taking Ginkgo Biloba Extract could prove to be quite a formidable treatment.

A well-known study conducted by Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Frankfurt showed that taking 240 mg per day improved the cognitive abilities of a small group of patients with suffering from dementia.

The group were treated with the extract on a daily basis for 3 months and then subjected to a Short Cognitive Performance Test (SKT), to which they showed a significant improvement whereas the results for the placebo group actually declined. [2]

Ginkgo Biloba Can Boost Sex Drive

Ginkgo Biloba Extract has also been taken for hundreds of years with the promise of boosting an individual’s sex drive. Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) facilitates blood flow, influences nitric oxide systems, and has a relaxant effect on smooth muscle tissue.

A study involving a group of women suffering from what is known as ‘sexual dysfunction’ or ‘low sex drive’ were given a single dose (daily) of 300 mg Ginkgo Biloba Extract over the course of an 8 week period and showed a small but significant facilitatory effect on physiological, but not subjective, sexual arousal compared to placebo in 99 sexually dysfunctional women.

The study also involved a combination of the 300 mg dosage combined with sexual therapy which seemed to provide the most effective increase in sex drive among the participants of the study. [3]

The Bottom Line – While the majority of studies only show initial results from a small group of people, the results are significant in showing that supplementing Ginkgo Biloba Extract can help to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s, increase blood circulation to the brain, and trigger an improved sexual response for those suffering from a low sex drive.

How To Use Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba Extract is sold in pill form and recommended to consume one or twice daily with a meal.

The most common methods of taking Ginkgo Biloba are:

  1. Capsule

The typical dosage amount for Ginkgo Biloba ranges between 60-120mg daily. It is recommended that you do not exceed 120-200mg.

Are There Any Foods That Contain Ginkgo Biloba?

This specific extract is only found in pill/capsule form as it is directly extracted from the leaf of the Ginkgo tree, and as such, is not commonly added to other foods, nor does it occur naturally in the food chain or other food sources.

Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects List

Side effects are generally mild and rarely experienced by the user, however, the list below outlines possible side effects.

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Stomach ache
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting

Note: these side effects are possible but may not be the typical user experience.

Is Ginkgo Biloba Safe?

Taken in the recommended dose and not mixed with other medication, this is safe to consume.

Remember, prior to using Ginkgo Biloba, you should consult with your doctor if you have any kind of medical condition.

When Should I Not Take Ginkgo Biloba?

  • If you are pregnant and/or breast-feeding: Not recommended for use by pregnant or lactating women.
  • If you’re a child under the age of 18: Not intended for use by persons under the age of 18.

Has Ginkgo Biloba Been Linked To Any Deaths?

Ginkgo Biloba has not been linked to any deaths.

The Bottom Line – Considered to be safe to use within recommended dosage with potentially mild side effects but not to be consumed if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or by persons under the age of 18. Must consult a medical professional before taking if you suffer from a pre-existing medical condition or take other medications.

Where Can I Buy Ginkgo Biloba & Do I Need A Prescription?

Ginkgo Biloba Extract is readily available to buy without a prescription from all good health stores, online retailers and some supermarkets.

Conclusion

This supplement is classed as derivative of traditional Chinese medicine and is a natural extract taken from the Ginkgo Biloba Tree native to China.

Studies have shown that it does indeed help with blood circulation to specific parts of the brain, which in turn, can potentially help to improve a variety of cognitive functions for the individual taking the supplement.

Ginkgo Biloba Extract can also be used to help slow down the progression of the aggressive neurodegenerative disease known as Alzheimer’s. Whilst studies to date have only included a small group of people, the results are still very significant in showing cognitive improvement in said individuals.

On a short-term basis, this leafy extract does seem to be of some benefit to women that may be suffering from a low sex drive, however, long-term studies show that Ginkgo Biloba Extract alone cannot be solely relied upon to increase sex drive, rather, a combination of Ginkgo Biloba Extract supplementation and sexual therapy delivered the most promising results when attempting to boost libido.

Ginkgo Biloba Extract is known to be safe to use in the recommended dosage with only mild side effects being reported which will not be experienced by every user. It appears to have some genuinely positive health benefits and is relatively cheap to purchase without a prescription.

Beth Coats, RD LN
Beth Coats, RD LN
Staff Writer & Fact Checker at DietProbe
Beth is a registered dietician with over 20 years experience in general nutrition.
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Fact Checked


This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.