5 Ginkgo Biloba Benefits: From Memory to Better Blood Flow

Though you’ll most likely find it in the herbal supplement aisle, Gingko Biloba extract doesn’t come from an herb, but a tree. And what a tree! (No, seriously, it’s pretty amazing.)

Native to China, various parts of the gingko have been used in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese medicine and cuisine for thousands of years. The gingko tree, or “Maidenhair Tree,” can grow for thousands of years and reach hundreds of feet.

You could argue that the gingko tree is pretty much perfect: it’s remained unchanged for over 270 million years and is referred to as a living fossil because it’s almost identical to its fossilized ancestors. Gingko is also been one of the best selling supplements in the U.S. and Europe for decades—and with good reason.

The parts of the tree that are most frequently in extracts are the seed and leaf. For example, when you’re buying Gingko Biloba extract, you’re most likely buying a serum made from the leaves.

Of the dozens of components that make up gingko leaves and seeds, it’s the flavanoids and terpenoids (awesome antioxidants that counteract the effects of cell oxidization and lipids found in plants) that are responsible for the unique benefits related to taking gingko. 

What kind of benefits? Let’s find out!

5 Ginkgo Biloba Benefits

1. Ginkgo Biloba Boosts Brain Power

Of all the ginkgo biloba benefits, the best known is ginkgo’s ability to boost brain power. So does ginkgo biloba work?

Though studies aren’t conclusive, all signs point to gingko improving neurological and psychological health by increasing blood flow to the brain.

Several studies have shown that taking ginkgo daily improved the memory of healthy participants—from young adults to people well into their middle ages. The best results were achieved where participants took a combination of ginseng and gingko, or codonopsis (aka poor man’s ginseng) and gingko. Goes to show it’s never too late to start thinking about your noggin!

2. Ginkgo Improves Circulation

Many of the health benefits of gingko biloba stems from the fact that it’s rich in terpenoids, a naturally occurring lipid, which is also an antioxidant with a solid reputation for improving blood flow.

Gingko helps your vascular system in two ways: dilating your blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of platelets. What does this mean? Gingko thins the blood, opens up the vessels and voilà! Improved blood flow to those hard-to-flow-to areas.

This is great news because a number of people, especially those in their late 60s and older, suffer from narrowing of the arteries. This can lead to pain in the extremities where blood can’t get.  A number of studies show that by taking gingko the symptoms (namely pain and associated immobility) are reduced; participants taking the supplement and not the placebo could walk for greater distances and suffered less pain. Healthier blood and helping stay healthy through increased physical activity? Good job, gingko!

3. Ginkgo Biloba is a Real Eye Opener

So we know that gingko boosts your brain and helps your vascular system, but it can also help keep your peepers in tip-top shape.

Gingko is proving to be a dynamo when in comes to treating glaucoma, a degenerative eye disease resulting from a build-up of fluid in the eyes. Regularly taking a particular form of the extract prevents degeneration and even halts and reverses it.

It’s also kicking butt against Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), one of the top causes of vision loss in the United States. Most common in people over 50, AMD results in the blurring or loss of central vision. In a European trial, several hundred people suffering from AMD who took gingko reported improved vision and slowed degeneration. Literally and figuratively, results you can see.

4. Ginkgo Has a Calming Effect and May Help Anxiety

One study has found that ginkgo helped seniors experiencing dementia and anxiety significantly with little to no side effects. Because of the great results achieved, more studies are underway to study the extract’s effect on generalized anxiety disorder.

So far a combination of St. John’s Wort and gingko have produced really good results in treating people suffering from anxiety or depression.

5. Ginkgo to Relieve Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

People suffering from Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, rejoice! In several studies, women who took gingko from day 16 of their cycle through to the 5th day of their next cycle found a major reduction in symptoms. A double-blind group where 34% of people reported symptoms found that by the end of their 2nd cycle in the study only 11% of women reported pain or discomfort related to their menses.

Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects

Before you run to your local gingko dispensary to get your lifetime supply, there are a few things you should know.

It has been shown to trigger seizures in people who suffer from epilepsy. This hasn’t been proven conclusively, but there is enough of a link to make it a no-go,

Don’t eat gingko fruit or seed. Just don’t do it! It can be toxic, especially in larger doses. Let science work out which parts you should ingest, not your digestive system,

Gingko can interact with other meds so like with any medicine, consult your doctor before taking, because it does interact with other drugs and may not be the right treatment for you.

About the Author Jessica

After growing up a perpetually pudgy kid, Jessica discovered real food - and her waistline shortly afterward. When she's not crafting concoctions in the kitchen, she spends her free time writing about food, making her own deodorant, watching sci-fi, doing headstands, and looking for gluten free food that doesn't suck.

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