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15 Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba

Updated on October 5, 2018
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

Ginkgo Biloba Leaf and Tree

Ginkgo Biloba leaf is what has the health benefits.
Ginkgo Biloba leaf is what has the health benefits. | Source
Ginkgo biloba tree trunk.
Ginkgo biloba tree trunk. | Source
Ginkgo biloba tree.
Ginkgo biloba tree. | Source

Ginkgo Biloba Health Benefits

Ginkgo Biloba appears to be the best selling herb in America. It has been used for thousands of years in China. Some of the ginkgo biloba trees grow to over 160 feet and some are claimed to be over 2,500 years old.

An herb is a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal, savory [taste], or aromatic [smell] qualities. About 80% of the world population presently use herbal medicine for primary healthcare, the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, and phytotherapy.

The leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree are what are used in the supplements since they possess the medicinal properties. The bible (NIV-- New International Version) Revelations 22:2 says:

And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

This article was written November 26, 2013. Wikipedia says:

Ginkgo (Chinese and Japanese characters in here), also spelled gingko [3] and also known as the maidenhair tree, is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives.

The ginkgo is a living fossil, recognizably similar to fossils dating back 270 million years. Native to China,[4] the tree is widely cultivated and was introduced early to human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food.

It is considered a living fossil since it has been unchanged since 225 million years ago. Herbs compete with drugs for sales so drug companies do not like this herb selling so well. When you do a search for this herb, you find many negative things because it is so popular and the competition does not like this. So what makes this herb bad is good.

They say that this herb will interact with some medications. The medications they 'interact' with are drugs that help circulation. Taking ginkgo biloba makes this blood circulation stronger so they are not supposed to be used with these drugs. But if this herb did not work then there would not be this problem or interaction!

You will also see on a webpage that you are not supposed to take ginkgo biloba with a drug that lowers blood pressure. The reason why is because ginkgo also lowers high blood pressure and you do not want the blood pressure to get too low. Grapefruits are very healthy for you but if you take any drugs then talk to your doctor before taking it since grapefruits interact with at least 85 medications.

Some articles try to make it appear that herbs are as dangerous as medications (drugs). So what famous person do you know of that has died from herbs? What caused the death of Michael Jackson at age 50 or Whitney Houston at age 38 or Brittany Murphy at age 32 or Heath Ledger at age 28?

The answer is legal drugs or medications. See The Worst Things for Health for more on this and more celebrities that died from legal drugs like Elvis Presley. One concern with herbs is some companies do not use the herb that they claim to use so try to use a company that is reliable. I have an article called 12 Health Benefits of Nettle Leaf Tea. Now if you buy organic loose leaf tea, there is a lot less chance of this happening.

But with capsules there is a much greater chance of this happening. But that does not make the herbs bad but makes the greedy companies bad. These benefits of ginkgo biloba come from it being able to help the circulation of blood. Blood is a transport vehicle. It brings nutrients to where it is needed and takes the waste and toxins out of the body.

Ginkgo made the list of the 13 best herbs of Dr. James A. Duke. He worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) for over 3 decades cataloging the different plant medicines (phytochemicals) in different plants (herbs). See 13 Best Herbs for Health and Healing.

The drug companies try to make it appear like the Almighty Lord Himself brings drugs to earth and gives them to pharmaceutical companies and the doctors, who are agents of God, dispences them. And herbs are just fake drugs made by men. But it is the opposite of this. Notice how 'pharm' (like in pharmaceutical) sounds like 'farm'. But many drugs, like Vioxx, have been recalled for killing too many people.

In Southeast Pennsylvania (around Philadelphia) many doctors have left this area since they have to pay over $100,000 annually in malpractice insurance. This is why you should only take medical advice from doctors. It is illegal for others to give medical advice. Also if something goes wrong you can sue the doctor and he has the insurance to cover it.

Many drugs come from herbs. For example the herb willow bark has been used for billions of years (actually thousands of years) for pain and inflammation. University of Maryland Medical Center says:

The bark of white willow [tree] contains salicin, which is a chemical similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). In combination with the herb's powerful anti-inflammatory plant compounds (called flavonoids), salicin is thought to be responsible for the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of the herb. In fact, in the 1800s, salicin was used to develop aspirin. White willow appears to bring pain relief more slowly than aspirin, but its effects may last longer.

Many years ago there was a belief that the bark of the cinchona tree could cure malaria. They isolated the active chemical in it to make the drug, quinine, and this was used to get rid of the malaria epidemic in places like New York and Paris. Wikipedia says:

As a medicinal herb, cinchona bark is also known as Jesuit's bark or Peruvian bark. The bark is stripped from the tree, dried, and powdered for medicinal uses. The bark is medicinally active, containing a variety of alkaloids including the antimalarial compound quinine and the antiarrhythmic quinidine.

Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs: 13 Vital Herbs You Need to Disease-Proof Your Body, Boost Your Energy, Lengthen Your Life

Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs: 13 Vital Herbs You Need to Disease-Proof Your Body, Boost Your Energy, Lengthen Your Life
Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs: 13 Vital Herbs You Need to Disease-Proof Your Body, Boost Your Energy, Lengthen Your Life

"Duke's dynamic narrative and personal anecdotes will likely gain the confidence of readers who feel shortchanged by the impersonal manner of many doctors and the limitations of conventional medications. The greatest value of the book, however, may be how Duke extracts a manageable group of herbs from the seemingly endless array being touted in the marketplace and offers a practical plan for integrating them into daily life."

Nature's Bounty Ginkgo Biloba 400mg with 60mg Standardized Extract, 120 Tablets
Nature's Bounty Ginkgo Biloba 400mg with 60mg Standardized Extract, 120 Tablets

This has both the leaf in a powdered form and the standardized extract.


Ginkgo Biloba Has At Least 15 Health Benefits

1. HelpsAlzheimer’s Disease and Other Forms of Dementia

This is what ginkgo biloba is the most well known for-- improving memory. Is this why an elephant never forgets (they eat these tree leaves). A webpage says:

Some evidence shows that taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth modestly improves symptoms of Alzheimer’s, vascular, or mixed dementia.

Now at this point someone can say "Didn't the U.S. government, specifically the 26th National Institute of Health (NIH), the NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) do a large study that shows that ginkgo is ineffective at doing the above?"

Now I am supposed to say "I don't know." But I do know all about this. First what is the difference between the 2 in the name-- alternative and complimentary. Alternative medicine is medicine used in place of conventional medicine and complimentary medicine is alternative medicine used with conventional medicine.

This was a study done for 8 years with over 3,000 people that were 75 years old or older. This webpage about it is called: Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) Study Fails To Show Benefit in Preventing Dementia in the Elderly. Okay so that is the end of it. Case closed. It had enough people and was done long enough but the people got only 120 milligrams of ginkgo leaf extract daily. They did not give the ginkgo a fair chance! That is about the weight of 2 grains of sand. Herbs are foods, not drugs!

Now the extract is stronger than just the leaves but maybe it would have been better to use a good amount of the whole leaves and maybe make a tea out of it like what is done with nettle leaf tea. A gram is only 1/28th of an ounce. A cup of tea is usually made with 2 grams of tea (2,000 mg). Also a person may drink a few cups of a tea or herbal tea a day. says:

For improving cognitive function in healthy people, studies have used between 120 milligrams to 600 milligrams of the extract daily.

So instead of trying 120 mg they could of tried 600 mg. Now before the NCCAM does a study of this size (this is how they work) they look at many smaller studies like this, that shows that it does work. They do not do this large study unless the smaller studies show that it does work. So they chose the minimum amount used in any study. Also there is no danger of taking more of these leaves. Wikipedia says that ginkgo biloba is also used as a food.

A popular saying about money is "Do you think that money grows on trees?" Well ginkgo biloba leaves do grow on trees. Now actually when it comes to herbology, herbs are weak compared to drugs or medications so a lot more of it needs to be used.

Leafy greens like kale are great for health but if you ate a gram a day of kale, do you think that it would make a difference? Actually many herbologists will have someone start out on a small amount of a herb or combination of herbs and keep increasing the amount watching for signs that it is not too much. But this article is not about herbology or herbalism (herbal medicine). Back to the health benefits of ginkgo biloba.

Here is a small study where people got twice as much as above. German researchers gave 20 people with Alzheimer's either a placebo or 240 mg of ginkgo a day. After 30 days the people on placebo had no improvement. Of the 10 on the ginkgo, one had progression of the disease, 2 stayed the same and 7 experienced an improvement of mental function.

2. Helps Anxiety

From above webpage: "Preliminary clinical research shows that a specific ginkgo extract (EGb 761, Tanakan) can reduce symptoms of anxiety in adults with generalized anxiety disorder or adjustment disorder with anxious mood."

3. Recovery from Stroke

It helps people recover from a stroke caused by a clot.

4. Hearing Loss

Many health problems are caused by a lack of blood circulation.

5. Help with Vertigo and Dizziness

6. Helps PMS (premenstrual syndrome)

7. Glaucoma

It is a condition of increased pressure within the eyeball, causing gradual loss of sight.

8. Helps with ADHD (Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder)

9. Improves Thinking Problems Caused by Old Age

10. Improves Thinking in Young People has a webpage about the benefits of ginkgo biloba mentioned above. It says:

Ginkgo improves blood flow to the brain and acts as an antioxidant.

Some studies have found that in healthy people, ginkgo might modestly boost memory and cognitive speed.

Several ginkgo studies have shown that it can help with memory problems caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers have studied ginkgo for many other conditions, including ADHD, depression and other psychological conditions, multiple sclerosis, and tinnitus from a vascular origin.

University of Maryland Medical Center has a page about ginkgo biloba. It says:

Ginkgo leaves have two types of chemicals (flavonoids and terpenoids) that are antioxidants.

Laboratory and animal studies show that flavonoids protect the nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels, and retina from damage. Terpenoids (such as ginkgolides) improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of platelets.

11. Helps with MS (Multiple Sclerosis)

12. Lowers High Blood Pressure

13. Age Related Problems with the Eyes like Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a a gradual loss of the central part of the field of vision usually affecting both eyes that occurs especially in the elderly.

14. Helps Headaches

15. Helps with Intermittent Claudication, PAD (Peripheral Artery Disease) or PVD (Peripheral Vascular Disease)

This is when you have severe pain while walking due to the blood vessels in the legs becoming too clogged up.

Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba reviewed by naturopathic doctor.

Ginkgo Biloba Leaves Powder

Mason Vitamins Ginkgo Biloba Leaves Powder, 500 mg per Capsule, 180 Gelatin Capsules
Mason Vitamins Ginkgo Biloba Leaves Powder, 500 mg per Capsule, 180 Gelatin Capsules

Ginkgo is often used for memory disorders including Alzheimer's disease. It is also used for conditions that seem to be due to reduced blood flow in the brain, especially in older people. These conditions include memory loss, headache, ringing in the ears, vertigo, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and hearing disorders. Some people use it for other problems related to poor blood flow in the body, including leg pain when walking (claudication), and Raynaud's syndrome (a painful response to cold, especially in the fingers and toes).


What is Ginkgo Biloba?


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    • Sam Shepards profile image

      Sam Shepards 

      3 years ago from Europe

      Great gingko article. Love the benefits!

    • torrilynn profile image


      6 years ago

      thanks Chuck for sharing the benefits of Ginkgo. very nice benefits indeed. voted up.


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