What is Ginkgo Biloba for?
Ginkgo is an herb. The leaves are generally used to make “extracts” that are used as medicine. However, a few medicines are made from the seed, but these are not well studied.
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).
Ginkgo leaf is also used for thinking disorders related to Lyme disease and depression.
Some people use ginkgo to treat sexual performance problems. It is sometimes used to reverse the sexual performance problems that can accompany taking certain antidepressants called SSRIs.
Ginkgo been tried for eye problems including glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The list of other uses of ginkgo is very long. This may be because this herb has been around for so long. Ginkgo biloba is the longest living tree species in the world. Ginkgo trees can live as long as a thousand years. Using ginkgo for asthma and bronchitis was described in 2600 BC.
In manufacturing, ginkgo leaf extract is used in cosmetics. In foods, roasted ginkgo seed, which has the pulp removed, is an edible delicacy in Japan and China. Remember, though, the whole seed is LIKELY UNSAFE to eat.
Ginkgo interacts with many medicines. Before taking it, talk with your healthcare provider if you take any medications.
What is Ginkgo Balboa Possibly Effective for?
• Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Some evidence shows that taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth modestly improves symptoms of Alzheimer’s, vascular, or mixed dementias. However, there are concerns that findings from many of the early ginkgo studies may not be reliable. Although most clinical trials show ginkgo helps for symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, there are some conflicting findings, suggesting it may be hard to determine which people might benefit.
• Improving thinking problems caused by old age. Taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth seems to improve thinking skills in some elderly people with mild to moderate age-related memory loss or thinking problems. Ginkgo leaf extract might modestly improve short-term visual memory and speed of mental processing in non-demented people with age-related memory loss.
• Improving thinking in young people. Taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth seems to improve some thinking skills in healthy young to middle-aged people. Ginkgo might modestly improve memory and speed of mental processing in people without memory loss. Some evidence suggests a combination of Panax ginseng and ginkgo is effective for improving memory and that the combination might be more effective than either product alone.
• Painful response to cold especially in the fingers and toes (Raynaud’s syndrome). Taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth seems to decrease the number of painful attacks per week in people with Raynaud’s syndrome.
• Leg pain when walking due to poor blood flow (claudication, peripheral vascular disease). Some evidence shows that taking ginkgo seems to increase the distance people with poor blood circulation in their legs can walk without pain. Taking ginkgo might also reduce the chance of requiring surgery.
• Vertigo and dizziness. Taking ginkgo leaf by mouth seems to significantly improve symptoms of dizziness and balance disorders.
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth seems to produce significant relief in breast tenderness and other symptoms associated with PMS when started during the 16th day of the menstrual cycle and continued until the 5th day of the following cycle.
• Glaucoma. Taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth seems to improve pre-existing damage to the visual field in people with normal tension glaucoma.
• Improving color vision in people with diabetes. There is some evidence that taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth for six months can significantly improve color vision in people whose retinas have been damaged by diabetes.
• Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There is some early evidence that ginkgo leaf extract might improve symptoms and distance vision in people with AMD.
• Anxiety. 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.
• Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There is preliminary evidence that a specific combination product (AD-fX, CV Technologies, Canada) containing ginkgo leaf extract, in combination with American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), might help improve ADHD symptoms such as anxiety, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness in 3 to 17 year-old children.
• Stroke. There is contradictory evidence about the effectiveness of ginkgo for improving recovery in people with strokes caused by a clot.
• Hearing loss. There is some evidence that ginkgo might help short-term hearing loss due to unknown causes. However, many of these people recover their hearing on their own. So it’s hard to know if ginkgo has any effect.
• High cholesterol.
• “Hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis).
• Blood clots, heart disease.
• Colorectal cancer.
• Ovarian cancer.
• Thinking problems related to Lyme disease.
• Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).