Principal Proposed Uses
Other Proposed Uses
Traceable back 300 million years, the ginkgo is the oldest surviving species of tree. Although it died out in Europe during the Ice Age, ginkgo survived in China, Japan, and other parts of East Asia. It has been cultivated extensively for both ceremonial and medical purposes, and some particularly revered trees have been lovingly tended for more than 1,000 years.
In traditional Chinese herbology, tea made from ginkgo seeds has been used for numerous problems, most particularly asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The leaf was not used. But in the 1950s, German researchers started to investigate the medical possibilities of ginkgo leaf extracts rather than remedies using the seeds. Thus, modern ginkgo preparations are not the same as the traditional Chinese herb, and the comparisons often drawn are incorrect.
What Is Ginkgo Used for Today?
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Ginkgo?
Alzheimer’s Disease and Non-Alzheimer’s Dementia
Enhancing Mental Function in Healthy People
Ginkgo has shown less consistent promise for enhancing mental function in people who experience the relatively slight decline in cognitive function that typically accompanies increased age.
Besides these negative trials, there is another weakness in the evidence: inconsistency even among positive trials. There are numerous measurable aspects of memory and mental function, and studies of ginkgo have examined a great many of these. Unfortunately the exact areas of benefits seen vary widely.
For example, in one positive study, ginkgo may speed the ability to memorize letters but not expand the number of letters that can be retained; while in another positive study, the reverse may be true. This type of inconsistency tends to decrease the confidence one can place in these apparently positive studies, because if ginkgo were really working, one would expect its effects to be more reproducible.
The bottom line: It is not clear whether ginkgo actually enhances memory and mental function in healthy seniors or healthy younger people. Benefits, if they do exist, are probably slight.
PMSGinkgo biloba L.
Macular degeneration , one of the most common causes of vision loss in seniors, may respond to ginkgo.
The standard dosage of ginkgo is 40 mg to 80 mg 3 times daily of a 50:1 extract standardized to contain 24% ginkgo-flavone glycosides. Levels of toxic ginkgolic acid and related alkylphenol constituents should be kept under 5 parts per million.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Blood-thinning drugs, such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (eg, ibuprofen), cilostazol, clopidogrel (Plavix) , heparin , pentoxifylline (Trental) , ticlopidine (Ticlid) , and warfarin (Coumadin) : Simultaneous use of ginkgo could theoretically cause bleeding problems and should not be undertaken without physician supervision.
- Calcium channel blockers : Ginkgo might reduce their effectiveness.
- Antipsychotic medications in the phenothiazine family as well as atypical antipsychotic drugs (such as clozapine and olanzapene): Ginkgo might help them work better with fewer side effects.
- Aminoglycoside antibiotics: Use of ginkgo might increase risk of hearing loss.
- Medications to prevent seizures: Ginkgo might interfere with their effectiveness.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/18/2014 -