If you’ve ever been in a health store like GNC or the Vitamin Shoppe, then you may have seen a supplement like ginkgo biloba among the shelves either in an extract form, a capsule, or even a tablet.
People sing the praises of this supplement, claiming it is able to work miracles and improve their daily lives. But, what is it and what, exactly, is it used for?
So, what exactly is Ginkgo biloba, you ask? Ginkgo biloba (Salisburia adiantifolia) is a compound that is extracted from the leaves of the Chinese Ginkgo tree, which is also known as the maidenhair tree.
Scientists use EGb761 and GBE as the scientific names for the standardized green ginkgo biloba plant. In most studies, this plant is generally known for enhancing cerebral functions.
Scientists in France, Germany and China have studied this plant for decades. While the Chinese have used both the dried leaf and the seeds for thousands of years, clinical studies conducted today are designed to test the effectiveness of the liquid extract that’s made from the green leaves that have been dried.
In both traditional Chinese medicine and modern clinical studies, Ginkgo biloba is safe to consume and it does provide numerous benefits in a variety of ways. We’ll get more into the effects and benefits later, though.
China is the primary place where Ginkgo biloba is cultivated. It is believed that some trees that are found outside of temples are about 1,500 years old, however the earliest leaf fossil dates back an astoundingly 270 million years ago!
The first recorded instance of Europeans coming in contact with the plant dates back to 1690 in a Japanese temple garden by the German botanist, Englebert Kaempfer.
Since the plant plays a large role in Buddhism and Confucianism, the plant is also found in Korea and some areas in Japan, but naturalization still happens and the seedlings can also be found growing naturally in forests.
What’s interesting is that the tree can grow in North America, too! The tree is typically used as a shade or ornamental tree that can reach up to 50 feet tall and spread to 35 feet in width when fully matured.
So if you ever see a tree whose bright green leaves looks like little fans that are about 2 to 3 inches in length and width, then you’re looking at a Ginkgo biloba tree!
Ginkgo biloba is used to help treat a wide variety of uses, and the methods for taking the supplement include tablets, liquid extracts and dried leaves to make a tea. Typically, an average adult will take between 120 and 140 mg of the supplement in separate doses throughout the day.
We recommend that you start off with a lower dosage just so you can see how your body reacts. It’s always easy to increase the dosage slightly until you start feeling the effects. Do keep in mind that it’ll take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to see start seeing the effects.
So, what are the benefits of taking the supplement? Well, where do we start?
There has been research that proves ginkgo biloba can be an effective tool for those who have trouble concentration, those who are experiencing a decline in their cognitive abilities, and can even be used to treat symptoms of fatigue.
It can also be used to treat a condition where someone chronically has low concentration, experience frequent bouts of confusion, decreased physical performance, headaches, changes in mood and fatigue.
There is no “cure” for dementia or Alzheimer’s, but it has been suggested in various scientific publications that Ginkgo biloba could be beneficial for people who are experiencing a decline in their cognitive abilities like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Some studies go on to say that taking Ginkgo biloba can improve cognitive performance in both young adults and older folks.
We all face stress, nervousness and even bouts of depression at one point or another in our lives. However, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Research has been conducted that suggests Ginkgo biloba can help our bodies (and our minds) handle stressors that we may encounter in our lives.
The extract will counteract the effects of too much cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones) in our bodies.
The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine published a study in 2008 that compared two groups of women who were of similar demographics and experienced similar severity of PMS symptoms.
One group had a placebo and the other took 40 milligrams of ginkgo extract each day. After a six month period, the group who took the ginkgo had a significant decrease in the severity of both physical and psychological symptoms associated to PMS.
More researched must be done, but there is some speculation that the Ginkgo biloba can increase the blood flow to the eyes, but it also combats free radical damage that is harmful to the cornea, macula, and retina.
This is especially beneficial for older adults preserve their vision while lowering UV damage or oxidative stress inflicted on the eye tissue.
Other health benefits of using Ginkgo biloba include:
Ginkgo biloba has proven to be effective when you want to enhance your cognitive abilities, although these benefits tend to be mild at best. You can increase the effect by taking the supplement with other memory enhancing supplements.
Here are a few nootropic stacks that incorporate ginkgo biloba:
Ginkgo Biloba and Vinpocetine Stack for Memory Enhancement. Vincpocetine is a naturally occurring nootropic that is well known for giving the user a memory boost. Much like ginkgo biloba, it can increase circulation and protect the brain.
If you want to try this stack, take 600 mg of ginkgo biloba and 10 mg of vinpocetine, twice a day.
Ginkgo Biloba, Ashwagandha and Gotu Kola for Mood, Cognition, and Energy. Ashwagandha is a lot like ginkgo biloba as it is an ancient herb that dates back as far as 3,000 years ago when Ayurvedic medicine was practiced in India.
This nootropic is known because of its strong anti-anxiety effects, but also because it can boost a person’s mood and cognition.
Gotu Kola is a natural supplement that is known for increasing energy and promoting healthy cardiovascular health. It’s also known to improve instances of chronic venous insufficiency.
If you want to try this stack, take 100 mg of ginkgo biloba, 300 mg of ashwagandha, and 500 mg of gotu kole (5% saponin) twice a day.
While many people use this supplement on a regular basis, there are some very minor side effects that are worth noting. These side effects include:
These side effects are rare and they generally do not last very long. However, if you do experience them, you should decrease the dosage. It's worth nothing that this plant is highly allergenic and it could cause skin irritations for those with sensitive skin.
Also, women who are currently pregnant or are nursing shouldn’t use the supplement because there is very little data on the effects the supplement can have on a fetus and baby.
Also, if you are recovering from a recent surgery or if you’re taking anticonvulsants, anticoagulants or even antidepressants, you shouldn’t take ginkgo biloba until you’ve consulted with your doctor first.
Ginkgo biloba is an incredibly popular supplement that has been around for centuries. People praise the supplement for its nootropic effects and it is often preferred by those who are trying a holistic approach to living healthier.
The plant is known for treating mental decline in the elderly, helps to improve memory, enhance cognitive function, and boost your mood overall.
The extracts from the Ginkgo tree have been proven to be able to alleviate some of the symptoms that are associated with dementia, as it works to improve one’s short term memory while reducing aberrant social behaviors.
If you have an elderly loved one who is going suffering from dementia or the early stages of Alzheimer’s, ginkgo biloba may be able to help stave off the progression of the disease.
There hasn’t been enough evidence that indicates the supplement is as effective for younger users who have healthy minds, it still can be quite beneficial because it improves circulation, which is beneficial for both the mind and the body.