You may be wondering what Gingko Biloba is and what is used for. It’s is a herb that has been used for medicinal purposes for years in the US.
Ginkgo is used for the treatment of numerous conditions, many of which are under scientific investigation. Available evidence demonstrates ginkgo’s efficacy in the management of intermittent claudication, Alzheimer’s/multi-infarct dementia, and “cerebral insufficiency” (a syndrome thought to be secondary to atherosclerotic disease, characterized by impaired concentration, confusion, decreased physical performance and fatigue. It is one of the oldest species of trees on the planet. The tree is considered to be a “living fossil”, meaning that it has continued to survive even after major extinction events.
Ginkgo trees have very unique properties – they are capable of growing more than 130 feet and can live for over one thousand years. Traditional uses of Biloba include: Preventing bed-wetting, increasing sexual energy, soothes bladder irritation, treating intestinal worms, treating Gonorrhea.
Unlike medications, standard doses for ginkgo biloba have not been established. There is inadequate information available to determine the best supplement dosage. Doses are based on the desired outcome. If you are taking ginkgo biloba supplements for memory impairment, cardiovascular function or poor circulation, take 120 to 240 mg per day in two or three divided doses. If you suffer from tension glaucoma, use 40 mg of ginkgo biloba daily for up to 4 weeks. To relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, take 80 mg of ginkgo biloba during your menstrual cycle. For peripheral vascular disease, vertigo or tinnitus, take no more than 120 mg per day in divided doses. For Raynard’s disease, take 360 mg of gingko biloba per day in divided doses. It is important to start out with low doses of 120 mg or less to avoid stomach upset.
Medicinal uses of Ginkgo Biloba
Based on studies conducted in laboratories, animals, and people, ginkgo is used for the following:
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Ginkgo is widely used in Europe for treating dementia. At first, doctors thought it helped because it improves blood flow to the brain. Now more study suggests it may protect nerve cells that are damaged in Alzheimer’s disease. A number of studies have found that ginkgo has a positive effect on memory and thinking in people with Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia.
Studies suggest that ginkgo may help people with Alzheimer’s disease:
- -Improve thinking, learning, and memory (cognitive function)
- -Have an easier time doing day-to-day activities
- -Improve social behavior
- -Have fewer feelings of depression
However, one of the longest and best-designed studies found ginkgo was no better than placebo in reducing Alzheimer’s symptoms. In a 2008 study, 176 people in the United Kingdom with Alzheimer’s took either ginkgo or placebo for 6 months. At the end of the study there was no difference in mental function or quality of life between the groups.
Ginkgo is sometimes suggested to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well, and some studies have suggested it might help.
Because ginkgo improves blood flow, it has been studied in people with intermittent claudication, or pain caused by reduced blood flow to the legs. People with intermittent claudication have a hard time walking without feeling extreme pain. An analysis of eight studies showed that people taking ginkgo tended to walk about 34 meters farther than those taking placebo. In fact, ginkgo has been shown to work as well as a prescription medication in improving pain-free walking distance. However, regular walking exercises work better than ginkgo in improving walking distance.
One preliminary study found that ginkgo might help relieve anxiety. People with generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder who took a specific extract of ginkgo had fewer anxiety symptoms than those who took placebo.
One small study found that people with glaucoma who took 120 mg of ginkgo daily for 8 weeks had improvements in their vision.
Memory and Thinking
Ginkgo is widely touted as a “brain herb.” Some studies show that it does help improve memory in people with dementia. It’s not as clear whether ginkgo helps memory in healthy people who have normal, age-related memory loss. Some studies have found slight benefits, while other studies have found it didn’t help at all. Some studies have found that ginkgo helps improve memory and thinking in young and middle-aged people who are healthy. The dose that works best seems to be 240 mg per day. There’s no proof that taking ginkgo will help protect against dementia. Ginkgo is often added to nutrition bars, soft drinks, and fruit smoothies to boost memory and enhance mental performance, although such small amounts probably don’t help.
The flavonoids found in ginkgo may help stop or reduce some problems with the retina, the back part of the eye. Macular degeneration, often called age-related macular degeneration or AMD, is an eye disease that affects the retina. The number one cause of blindness in the Unites States, AMD is a degenerative eye disease that gets worse as time goes on. Some studies suggest that ginkgo may help preserve vision in those with AMD.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Two studies with a somewhat complicated dosing schedule found that ginkgo helped reduced PMS symptoms. Women in the studies took ginkgo beginning on day 16 of their menstrual cycle and stopped taking it after day 5 of their next cycle, then took it again on day 16.
One well-designed study found that people with Raynaud’s phenomenon who took ginkgo over a 10-week period had fewer symptoms than those who took placebo. More studies are needed.
If you suffer from blood circulation disorders or are prescribed anticoagulants such as aspirin then you may be at a risk of experiencing Undesirable side effects of Biloba.
Ginkgo may interact with some prescription and non-prescription medications. If you are taking any of the following medications, you should not use ginkgo without first talking to your health care provider:
- Medications broken down by the liver -Ginkgo can interact with some medications that are processed through the liver. If you take any prescription medications, ask your doctor before taking ginkgo.
- Seizure medications (anticonvulsants)-High doses of ginkgo could make anti-seizure drugs not work as well.
- Antidepressants -Taking ginkgo along with a kind of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may increase the risk of serotonin syndrome, a life-threatening condition. Also, ginkgo may strengthen both the good and bad effects of antidepressants.
Ginkgo is beneficial if taken in the right amount and keeping in mind the fact that it may react with some prescription drugs and so needs to be taken only if advised by the doctor!