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Ginkgo Biloba – Health Benefits and Side Effects

Benefits and Dangerous Effects of Ginkgo Biloba

With age comes wisdom, right? Our collection of experiences grows into the body of knowledge that ultimately creates who we are. If the same can be said for plant life, ginkgo biloba could be the wisest plant around. This particular medicinal plant is the oldest living tree species, perhaps lending its collection of years to its wealth of health benefits and powers.

Ginkgo biloba has been around for ‘hundreds of millions of years’. It has no close living relatives and is referred to as a “living fossil” because its closest relations are long since passed on and immortalized in fossils. Within this time, the ginkgo biloba tree has been used by numerous cultures as a traditional medicine and a source of healing food.

Ginkgo Biloba Uses

Of more than 40 different components in the ginkgo biloba tree, scientists have identified two that they believe are responsible for its health benefits: flavonoids and terpenoids. These two components are credited with everything from boosting memory and mental sharpness to improving blood flow.

Ginkgo seems to improve blood circulation, which might help the brain, eyes, ears, and legs function better. It may slow down Alzheimer’s disease by interfering with changes in the brain that interfere with thinking. Ginkgo seeds contain substances that might kill the bacteria and fungi that cause infections in the body. The seeds also contain a toxin that can cause side effects like seizure and loss of consciousness.

Ginkgo leaf is also used for thinking disorders related to Lyme disease, chemotherapy, and depression. Some people use ginkgo to treat sexual performance problems. It is sometimes used to reverse the sexual performance problems that can accompany taking certain antidepressants called SSRIs.

Ginkgo been used for eye problems including glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, heart disease and heart complications, high cholesterol, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and bloody diarrhea.

Ginkgo leaf is also taken by mouth for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), schizophrenia, and to prevent winter depression, preventing mountain sickness and aging, controlling stomach acid, improving liver and gallbladder function, and controlling blood pressure. It is also taken by mouth to treat asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and for disorders of the central nervous system.

In manufacturing, ginkgo leaf extract is used in cosmetics. In foods, roasted ginkgo seed, which has the pulp removed, is an edible delicacy in Japan and China.

Here are some benefit for health of ginkgo biloba:

Brain Health

Thanks to Ginkgo biloba’s vasodilating effects, it maintains proper flow of blood to the brain. The uptake of glucose by brain cell enhances   transmission of nerve impulses. Biloba safeguards the brain from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. It also improves short-term memory among the people living with such conditions. Ginkgo biloba boosts blood flow to all areas of the brain and increases amount of dopamine circulation. This helps prevent one from suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Relieves Intermittent Claudication

Intermittent claudication is a peripheral artery Disease (PAD) clinical diagnosis characterized by muscle pain, numbness or sense of fatigue, hence making walking difficult. Research has shown that people with this condition who take ginkgo biloba are able to walk longer without feeling the pain, compared to those who don’t.

Eye Health

Ginkgo Biloba improves eye health, improving vision as well as warding off other eye problems such as macular degeneration. It contains flavonoids which alleviate the symptoms. There is some evidence that taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth can improve color vision in people with retinal damage caused by diabetes.

Treats Depression

Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) has been found to uplift mood especially among the elderly. This boost in mood levels is important in overcoming symptoms of depression.

Anti-oxidant Properties

Ginkgo biloba’s fights free radicals in the body, hence initiating repair of any damaged cells. Its extract, commonly known as Ginkgo biloba Extract (GBE) assists in delaying onset of cancers and heart diseases. The ability of this anti-oxidant to stop cell damage plays a role in slowing down aging process.

Treats Impotency

Impotence results from impaired flow of blood to the reproductive organs in men. Atherosclerosis has been a major culprit in the development of this condition. Ginkgo biloba alleviates it by improving the flow of blood to the affected parts with 50% success among the users.

Alleviates Reynaud’s Disease

Ginkgo biloba helps in alleviating Reynaud’s disease, a condition brought about by overreaction of blood vessels to cold and spasm. This overreaction lowers blood flow to the affected regions, depriving them of the much needed oxygen. By widening the tiny blood vessels, ginkgo biloba unblocks them and minimizes the spasms, allowing free flow of blood.

Cardiovascular Health

Gingko biloba extracts have been linked to treatment of stroke. GBE stops formation of blood clots and also acts as deterrent for free radicals which cause damage to brain cells. They also encourage blood flow to the brain thus averting stroke.


The anti-inflammatory properties of Ginkgo biloba extracts are useful in dealing with debilitating conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS).

Treatment of Asthma

Research has shown that GBE aids in alleviating asthmatic conditions. This herb seems to have the ability to hinder platelet activating factor (PAF).This substance is said to be linked to onset of asthma.

Increased Libido

Ginkgo biloba is believed to boost libido assisting blood vessels to dilate. Its leaves are rich in flavonoids which have shown to improve blood flow as well as relax blood vessels. The increased blood flow to the sexual organs boosts libido. This has the effect of helping in attaining erection, enhancing erection as boosting semen output.

What are the side effects of ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in appropriate doses. It can cause some minor side effects such as stomach upset, headache, dizziness, constipation, forceful heartbeat, and allergic skin reactions.

There is some concern that ginkgo leaf extract might increase the risk of liver and thyroid cancers. However, this has only occurred in animals given extremely high doses of ginkgo. There is not enough information to know if it could happen in humans.

Ginkgo fruit and pulp can cause severe allergic skin reactions and irritation of mucous membranes. Ginkgo might cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, mango rind, or cashew shell oil.

There is some concern that ginkgo leaf extract might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Ginkgo thins the blood and decreases its ability to form clots. A few people taking ginkgo have had bleeding into the eye and into the brain, and excessive bleeding following surgery. Ginkgo leaf extract can cause allergic skin reactions in some people.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Ginkgo is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. It might cause early labor or extra bleeding during delivery if used near that time. Not enough is known about the safety of using ginkgo during breast-feeding. Do not use ginkgo if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Infants and children: Ginkgo leaf extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for a short time. Some research suggests that a specific combination of ginkgo leaf extract plus American ginseng might be safe in children when used short-term. Do not let children eat the ginkgo seed.

Bleeding disorders: Ginkgo might make bleeding disorders worse. If you have a bleeding disorder, don’t use ginkgo.

Diabetes: Ginkgo might interfere with the management of diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar closely.

Seizures: There is a concern that ginkgo might cause seizures. If you have ever had a seizure, don’t use ginkgo.

Deficiency of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD): Ginkgo might cause severe anemia in people have G6PD enzyme deficiency. Until more is known, use cautiously or avoid using ginkgo if you have G6PD deficiency.

Infertility: Ginkgo use might interfere with getting pregnant. Discuss your use of ginkgo with your healthcare provider if you are trying to get pregnant.

Surgery: Ginkgo might slow blood clotting. It might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using ginkgo at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.