Gingko is a herb with powerful antioxidant properties. It is taken from the Gingko leaf, the fan shaped leaf of the Gingko tree, also known as the memory tree. Gingko is one of the oldest living tree species, dating back to over 300 million years. There is no established Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for Gingko Biloba.
Gingko Biloba has been shown to improve many symptoms of aging. For example it is thought to be beneficial for age related degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Cognitive Function- A number of research studies have looked at the role of gingko biloba supplements in reducing the severity of symptoms and slowing the progression of age related cognitive decline. The herb is thought to provide a benefit through improving circulation to the brain, improving oxygen and nutrient delivery, protecting brain cells from oxidative stress due to the herb’s antioxidant properties, and also increasing the activity of a number of neurotransmitters in the brain linked to memory, most notably acetyl-choline (1), (2).In one study, involving 40 patients with senile dementia who were assessed by standard tests and brain wave studies showed those who received 80 grams of Gingko Biloba three times daily for 3 months experienced improvement in all parameters of cognitive function compared to the placebo group (3).
Age Related Macular Degeneration- Due to the antioxidant properties of Gingko, studies have been undertaken to evaluate the use of gingko for its role in degenerative conditions such as Age related Macular Degeneration. Two published six month trials were identified that randomised a total of 119 people. In one study conducted in France, 20 people were randomly allocated to Gingko biloba extract- 80 mg twice daily or placebo. In the other study conducted in Germany, 99 people were randomly allocated to two different doses of Ginkgo biloba extract (240 mg per day and 60 mg per day). The outcome of both trials was that Gingko Biloba exerted positive effects on vision (4).
Improving memory– Gingko Biloba may benefit those with mild to moderate dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease by improving circulation to the extremities.
Increasing Blood Flow to Extremities– As well as this action helping with memory, Gingko Biloba may make blood less likely to clot and expands (dilates) blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow. It may also help to improve blood flow to the brain so may be beneficial to those who suffer from dizziness, headaches, migraines, noise to the ears (tinnitus), concentration problems and depression.
Asthma and Bronchitis– Gingko Biloba may also prevent the airways from narrowing (constricting) and so may be beneficial to those who suffer from asthma and bronchitis.
Ginkgo appears to be safe for most healthy adults when taken orally however it may cause side effects such as headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, digestive upset, allergic skin reactions. Gingko may increase bruising and bleeding and therefore should be taken with precaution by those taking blood thinning medications. There is no established Tolerable Upper Safe Intake Level for Gingko Biloba.