Ginkgo Biloba is an ancient tree of Asian origin. It is a resistant plant due to its constant adaptation to the environment. This fact has caused many scientists to study its possible curative effects. Is it a beneficial plant or not?

At present, it is used to alleviate symptoms of certain diseases, such as dementia, vertigo or glaucoma. The substances obtained from its extracts are flavonoids or terpenes with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, this plant has been used for hundreds of years in traditional Chinese medicine. In this article we will tell you all about Ginkgo Biloba.

The most important things

  • Ginkgo Biloba is an ancient tree of Asian origin. Its leaves and seeds have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many years. Its leaves have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and blood circulation properties.
  • Although it has been used for years to cure certain diseases, there are currently no studies that prove its effectiveness and benefits.
  • If you are going to use Ginkgo Biloba, you should know both its benefits and its possible contraindications and interactions with other medications for a safe use.

What you should know about Ginkgo Biloba

This deciduous tree of Asian origin evolved when the earth’s atmosphere was more oxygenated than it is today. Therefore, it is able to withstand high amounts of cellular oxidation. That is why it was able to survive the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, which is why it is called ”bearer of hope” (1).

This ancient tree is used in traditional Chinese medicine. (Source: Wang: LlRSWVXy1nY/ unsplash)

What is Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo Biloba is a tree from Asia that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for about 2000 years. However, this species belongs to the Ginkgoaceae family (2). In other words, it is a living fossil that has existed for about 250 million years.

It is most commonly cultivated for its medicinal properties in the United States (South Carolina), Europe (southwest France) and Korea.

The fruits are known to treat lung disorders (such as asthma or cough), alcohol abuse and bladder inflammation. However, current studies claim that the seeds of Ginkgo Biloba may be toxic and caution is advised. The leaves are mainly used to treat heart or lung dysfunction and skin infections.

Modern research is now focusing on the Ginkgo extract from the leaves. The extract EGb 761 originated in Germany and is the most widely used in the treatment of heart or lung dysfunctions and skin infections.he most widely used supplement for cognitive diseases in the United States.

What are the benefits of Ginkgo Biloba?

In traditional Chinese medicine, ginkgo is used for numerous pathologies, especially cognitive impairment. Today, it is used in patients with mild dementia to alleviate symptoms (3, 4). However, there are no studies that show that it is useful to slow down this disease.

The benefits of Ginkgo Biloba are used to treat other diseases or problems, such as anxiety or premenstrual syndrome (5, 6). As you can see in the following table, we show you a series of diseases for which the healing effects of this plant are being tested (7, 8, 9, 10, 11). However, there are not enough studies to support its benefits, so researchers recommend some caution when using it.

Usage Benefits Are there studies to support it?
Dementia Improved cognitive function Studies are inconclusive.
Alzheimer’s Prevention of neurodegenerative pathologies Studies are inconclusive.
Depression Relieves depressive state Some. Still under study.
Vertigo Improves feelings of instability Some. Still being studied.
Anxiety Relieves its symptoms Some. Still being studied.
Premenstrual Syndrome Relieves inflammation and chest pain. Some. Still being studied.
Tinnitus Mitigates ringing in the ears. Some. Still under study.
Sexual dysfunction Relaxing effect on muscle tissue No substantial impact. Still under study.

What are the properties of Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo Biloba extract is a complex and well-defined product, prepared from its green leaves. This extract contains flavonoid substances, such as Ginkgo-flavone glycosides and terpenoids. They are characteristic of Ginkgo and have a unique structure (ginkgolides, bilobalide) (12).

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These properties of Ginkgo cause anti-inflammatory and circulatory effects, which help the vascular mechanism to recover. In addition, flavonoids also promote blood circulation, so it can be used in treatments for the circulatory system.

In neurological and psychological disorders, such as dementia, Ginkgo Biloba reduces the symptoms, allowing a better irrigation (13, 14).

Ginkgolides and Ginkgo flavonoids are responsible for the main neuroprotective effect of Ginkgo Biloba leaves. In neurodegenerative disorders, neurons undergo apoptosis in response to DNA damage, leading to impaired neurological function. Therefore, the apoptosis pathway could be targeted for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.

On the other hand, its high antioxidant content protects the cells of our body against external aggressions. This prevents the deterioration and aging of our skin. It also helps to obtain cellular energy thanks to its oxygenating function.

Ginkgo Biloba extract is obtained by drying and dissolving its leaves. (Source: Nake: 6020633/ pexels)

What are the side effects of using Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo Biloba seems to have many benefits, thanks to its healing properties. However, there are still many studies to determine whether this plant is actually beneficial or harmful. Despite its inconclusive results, the use of Ginkgo remains active. That is why it is important to know its side effects (2, 15, 16).

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Intracerebral hemorrhage
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Allergic skin reactions
  • Diarrhea
  • Impaired fertility
  • Palpitations
  • Bruising and bleeding

This list does not contain all the possible side effects that may occur. In the case of suffering any of these reactions, we recommend that you consult a specialist for treatment.

What are the differences between Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng?

In a sense, it is easy to think that Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng are the same or have a very close relationship. However, they are two different plants. Ginkgo Biloba comes from the Ginkgo tree, while Ginseng is the root of the Panax plant. Both are of Asian origin and offer similar benefits.

Researchers combine the properties of these two plants to improve the symptoms of certain diseases. Several studies have shown that their combination is very beneficial for memory (17, 18, 19, 20).

In the following table, we show you what are the differences between the two plants.

Ginkgo Biloba Ginseng
Its extract comes from the leaf Its extract comes from the root
Properties: flavonoids, terpene lactones (ginkgolides) Properties: ginsenin. Vitamins B1, B2 and C
Improves blood circulation Stimulates the central nervous system
Improves concentration and speed of response Improves memory
Metabolized very quickly It is metabolized more slowly

What are the recommended doses for using Ginkgo Biloba?

The doses that have been used and shown to be safe are between 40 and 240 milligrams per day (2). In addition, these doses should be administered in several daily intakes to prevent stomach upset. Also, we recommend that you start with lower doses and increase them if you do not see any beneficial effects.

The medicinal application of this plant in studies has been done for a maximum of six months. Therefore, for aFor prolonged use of Ginkgo Biloba you should consult a specialist.

This list is an approximate guide to the doses to follow in each case (16). However, we recommend that before using Ginkgo Biloba you consult your doctor.

Uses Dosage How often
Vertigo 80 mg Twice daily
Cognitive function 120 – 600 mg Twice daily
Dementia 120 – 240 mg Two to three times daily
Claudication 120- 240 mg Two to three times daily
Premenstrual Syndrome 80 mg Twice daily. Start on day 16 and continue until day 5 of the next cycle.
Sexual Dysfunction 600 – 240 mg Twice daily
Tinnitus 120 – 160 mg/d Two to three times daily
Raynaud’s disease 360 mg/d Three times daily
Normal Glaucoma 40 mg Three times daily for four weeks

Consumption and recommendations on Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is a plant that can benefit patients with certain diseases, thanks to its properties. However, before deciding whether to consume this plant, you should know more about it. It is important that you take into account its different forms of consumption, but, above all, its contraindications and interactions with other medications.

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Ways of consumption

Ginkgo can be taken in different ways. In any case, you can choose the best form of consumption depending on how easy it is for you to take a tablet or an infusion. However, it is advisable not to exceed the recommended amount if you take Ginkgo orally.

Consuming the seeds is not as healthy as it seems. Several scientific studies deny such benefits and, what is worse, warn of a very high risk of intoxication, especially if taken fresh.

You can take Ginkgo in the following way.

  • Capsules. This is the most commonly used format, as each capsule has an exact amount and it is easier to control the doses.
  • Ampoules. This form of consumption is also easy to administer.
  • Infusion (dried plant). We recommend that you use a small leaf and do not take it for a long time. About 10-14 days is a good average.
  • Gel. This is a format that is used to immediately relieve the joints or extremities. Athletes use it a lot.

Ginkgo Biloba can be consumed in the following waye different shapes. (Source: vaitkevich: 761556/ pexels)

Contraindications

Due to lack of studies, Ginkgo is not recommended for certain groups of people. Among these groups are minors, as there is no evidence of its effects. Also, to those people who are under treatment with anticoagulants, it is recommended to be cautious or not to consume Ginkgo (21, 22).

On the other hand, pregnant or breastfeeding women should not consume this plant. There are not enough studies that can support its benefits (23). Although the few evidences that exist are against its use in this group of patients. This is due to the anticoagulant properties that Ginkgo leaf possesses, which prolong bleeding time.

There are few studies showing the effects of Ginkgo Biloba in pregnant or breastfeeding women. So it is recommended not to use it during this time. (Source: freestockorg: 54289/ pexels)

Interactions with other medications

The use of Ginkgo should not be used lightly because it is a plant still unknown in today’s medicine. When you are going to take it, you should know that it can interact with certain medications and affect your health. Therefore, before using it, we recommend that you consult your doctor to avoid unwanted effects (24, 25, 26).

  • Anticoagulants or anti-inflammatory drugs: They may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Antidepressants or anxiolytics: Interaction with these medications may decrease their effectiveness.
  • Anticonvulsants: Large amounts of Ginkgo toxin can cause seizures. In addition, their interaction may reduce the effectiveness of the anticonvulsant drug.
  • Diabetes medications: Their interaction may alter your response to the drug.

Conclusion

Ginkgo biloba is a singular ancient tree that, thanks to its incredible strength, has been included in traditional and modern-day medicine. Today, there are many studies to learn more about this plant with healing properties. However, there is still a long way of research to be able to get real benefit from this plant.

Despite the lack of studies and possible negative effects, its properties can benefit patients with certain problems. Therefore, it can alleviate discomfort such as premenstrual syndrome, anxiety or dizziness. If you are ready to benefit from the positive effects of this plant, consult your doctor and, go ahead!

(Featured image source: Olgakorica: 153216426/ 123rf)

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