What is Ginkgo Biloba?
The ginkgo tree gave the dinosaurs a run for their money and is now considered a “living fossil,” dating all the way back to the Jurassic period.
Also known as the ginkgo biloba tree or maidenhair tree, it has no botanical relatives and was even thought to be extinct up until the 1600s when it was found in Japan in monasteries and temple gardens of Buddhist monks. Ginkgo is incredibly resilient, can live to be 3,000 years old and has even survived atomic bomb explosions.1 You read that right.
Leaf it to Ginkgo Biloba for Health and Wellness Benefits
With its prehistoric track record and complete disregard for extinction, it’s not surprising that ginkgo biloba extract has some hearty health benefits. From brain boosts to mood support, heart benefits and more—you better beleaf ginkgo can lend a limb to your wellness routine.
Memory and Cognition
One of the better-known uses for gingko biloba is its brain-boosting capabilities. This extract may boost memory when paired with panax ginseng (Korean ginseng) and may also promote healthy cognitive function.2,3 Ginkgo’s ability to promote brain function may be due to promoting blood flow to the brain, but it doesn’t hurt to add neuro-friendly nutrients to your diet as well.
One of the lesser-known benefits of ginkgo biloba is its immune-boosting properties. Ginkgo is packed with antioxidants and flavonoids, which helps the body get rid of toxins.4 This boosted antioxidant activity can lend a hand to promoting healthy immune function.5
Studies have shown that ginkgo biloba can support heart health.6 Ginkgo contains terpenoids, organic compounds that promote blood circulation by dilating blood vessels and preventing platelets from sticking.7 This improved circulation makes it easier for your heart to pump blood and function properly. While ginkgo biloba is better known for improving brain function, it’s hard to ignore these circulatory benefits for heart health.
If your mind is running rampant, ginkgo’s fan-shaped leaves could provide the cool down it needs. Ginkgo biloba may promote relaxation and provide support to cope with everyday stress and tension.8 This extract may also benefit a healthy mood and support positive thinking.9 Branch out by pairing ginkgo biloba with your favorite wind-down rituals to get some quality R&R.
What are the Potential Side Effects of Ginkgo Biloba?
While the ginkgo seed is not safe to ingest, the ginkgo leaf is safe to consume for healthy adults when taken in appropriate doses.10
Please check with a doctor before adding ginkgo biloba to your wellness routine. Ginkgo may interact with medications that slow clotting. Allergic reactions may occur if you are allergic to poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, mango rind or cashew shell oil.11
What is the Ginkgo Biloba Dosage for Adults?
Research shows that ginkgo biloba may benefit different wellness needs based on dosage.
For Emotional Wellbeing
Studies have tested ginkgo biloba for emotional wellbeing at 80 mg to 160 mg of a ginkgo leaf extract three times a day for 4 weeks.11
For Memory and Cognition
Research has suggested 60 to 480 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract in 2 or 3 doses for up to 1 year for dosage, or 120 mg to 240 mg a day.11
For General Use
60 mg twice a day with water during morning and evening meals is the recommended dosage for general uses like supporting mental sharpness and alertness.
Where to Find Ginkgo Biloba
The only way to receive the benefits of ginkgo is to get them from the leaves’ extract. Unfortunately, there are no foods or salads you can buy to sneak this nutrient into your diet. You can however find it in certain teas, capsules and liquid extracts to include in your wellness routine.
About Lindsey Toth, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health Products
Lindsey is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for pie. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food. Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.
1 Ginkgo biloba. http://www.ginkg.org/
2 Wesnes, K., Ward, T., McGinty, A. et al. The memory enhancing effects of a Ginkgo biloba/Panax ginseng combination in healthy middle-aged volunteers. Psychopharmacology 152, 353–361 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/s002130000533
3 Rigney, U., Kimber, S., & Hindmarch, I. (1999, August 18). The effects of acute doses of standardized Ginkgo biloba extract on memory and psychomotor performance in volunteers. Retrieved June 08, 2020, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1573(199908/09)13:53.0.CO;2-C
4 Wang X. Research on effect of ginkgo aglucone flavone to human body organs and immune function. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2014;27(4 Suppl):1099‐1102.
5 Puebla-Pérez AM, Lozoya X, Villaseñor-García MM. Effect of Ginkgo biloba extract, EGb 761, on the cellular immune response in a hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation model in the rat. Int Immunopharmacol. 2003;3(1):75‐80. doi:10.1016/s1567-5769(02)00215-1
6 (2017, October 12). https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-ginkgo/art-20362032
7 Haramaki, N., Aggarwal, S., Kawabata, T., Droy-Lefaix, M. T. T., & Packer, L. (1994). Effects of natural antioxidant ginkgo biloba extract (EGB 761) on myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 16(6), 789-794.
8 Woelk, H., Arnoldt, K. H., Kieser, M., & Hoerr, R. (2007). Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761® in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 41(6), 472-480.
9 Kennedy, D. O., Scholey, A. B., & Wesnes, K. A. (2002). Modulation of cognition and mood following administration of single doses of Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and a ginkgo/ginseng combination to healthy young adults. Physiology & behavior, 75(5), 739-751.
10 Ginkgo. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ginkgo
11 Ginkgo: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-333/ginkgo
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.