Gingko Biloba: Therapeutic lessons from the world’s oldest tree


Last Updated June 13th, 2021

What is Gingko Biloba?

The Ginkgo Biloba, well known as the maidenhair, is a native tree of China, which lived through several centuries. It has been passed on from centuries because of the huge medicinal benefits that it nurtures. It is referred to as the oldest living tree and the oldest living fossil as it is the only surviving member of an ancient order of plant species.

 The leaves and seeds of the Ginkgo Biloba are used to treat several medical conditions in ancient China. However, modern research has developed a primary method to focus on Ginkgo extract which is obtained from the leaves. The supplements extracted from Ginkgo Biloba are used for several health benefits, with specification and emphasizes on blood circulation and brain functions. Ginkgo Biloba is prominent among a group of people who are in constant need to sharpen their brains and improve their memory.

A brief history of gingko biloba

The Ginkgo Biloba has been adored as the world’s oldest living tree. Its existence dates back to 250 million years when dinosaurs ruled the earth. The ginkgo trees were spread across the continents of Asia, Europe, and America. Their presence was proof that they survived all governing hurdles and emerged as a medical treatment to many ailments. During the deterioration of the Jurassic era, the Ginkgo Biloba fought many odds.

They then disappeared 7 million years ago from America and 3 million years ago from Europe but found its existence in the lands of China till date. The Ginkgo Biloba belongs to a family known as Ginkgoaceae, which belonged to the class of Ginkgophytes. The Ginkgophytes were known for its distinct fern and flowering plants, like characteristic.

With this being the condition, scientists came to a conclusion that it no longer existed, but a German scientist Engelbert Kaempfer [German physician and botanist who was in Japan from 1690 till 1692. Engelbert was sent on a mission by the Dutch East-India Company to Japan. He discovered Ginkgo trees in Japan in the year 1691 and described the same in his work “Amoenitatum exoticarum” (1712)], rediscovered the Ginkgo Biloba in Japan, in 1691. After much research, it was known that the Ginkgo’s survived in China.

The Ginkgo Biloba’s were protected in monasteries, temples, palaces and holy place, situated in the mountains of China, where Buddhist monks cultivated the tree from about 1100 AD owing to its beneficial qualities. It then began to spread in the form of seed to Japan in the year 1192 AD with a few relations to Buddhism. It slowly entered back into Europe in the 17th century and later that century, its presence made its way to America. The Ginkgo was first mentioned in literature during the rule of the Sung dynasty in China.

What are the benefits of Gingko Biloba?

  • Ginkgo Biloba is well known for its antioxidant qualities. It contains high levels of flavonoids and terpenoids, which are major components necessary for antioxidant effects.
  • It helps fight the damaging effects caused by free radicals present in the body.
  • It helps fight inflammation caused by Arthritis, Irritable bowel disease (IBD), Cancer, Heart disease, and Stroke. 
  • In ancient Chinese Ginkgo seeds were used to open blockages and enhance the ability to channel energy to different parts of the body including the kidneys, liver, brain, and lungs. It is apparent that the seed increases blood flow and helps circulate blood to all parts of the body, thereby contributing to improve circulation and heart functions.
  • It helps to reduce symptoms associated with psychiatric disorders and dementia. It also helps to reduce stress, and anxiety that are prevalent in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It is known to stimulate brain function and improve mental stability of healthy individuals.
  • It helps treat vision problem in people suffering from diabetes and glaucoma.
  • It increases the blood flow to the legs and helps treat peripheral vascular disease, a condition related to leg ache when walking.
  • Ginkgo helps women in premenstrual syndrome. It reduces the tenderness of breast and other relevant syndromes that starts during the premenstrual cycle.
  • It reacts with antipsychotic medication and reduces side effects like thirst and constipation. These symptoms are persistent in people suffering from schizophrenia.
  • Tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder caused by certain antipsychotic drugs can be treated by the administration of Ginkgo.
  • Helps reduce dizziness and balance disorders.
  • Helps in keeping skin healthy and has been used as an anti-wrinkle supplement.
  • It promotes apoptosis (death of cells) of cancer It is considered as a powerful therapeutic supplement in treating fibrosis-related cancer; free-radical induced cancer, numerous carcinogens and helps in reducing the size of cancer tumors.
  • Prevents the factors that induce bed wetting.
  • Helps soothe bladder irritations.

Gingko Biloba drug interactions 

  • Ginkgo interacts with Xanax; the anxiety-relieving drug can reverse the action and cause the medication to lose effectiveness.
  • Care should be taken not to consume Ginkgo along with anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs, as it can initiate the risk of bleeding.
  • Anticonvulsant drugs used to reduce seizures should not be combined with Ginkgo as it can cause an adverse effect.
  • Avoid taking Ginkgo Biloba along with antidepressant drugs like fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem) and imipramine (Tofranil).

What is the right prescribed dosage of gingko biloba?

  • 80 milligram of Ginkgo Biloba (leaf extract) taken orally, helps prevent altitude sickness.
  • 120 – 600 milligram of Ginkgo Biloba (leaf extract) taken orally, helps regulate cognitive function.
  • 120 – 240 milligram of Ginkgo Biloba (leaf extract) taken orally thrice or twice a day, helps reduce the symptoms associated with Dementia.
  • 120 – 240 milligram of Ginkgo Biloba (leaf extract) taken orally thrice or twice a day, helps reduce the symptoms associated with Intermittent Claudication (a condition where legs get cramped and cause pain).
  • 80 milligram of Ginkgo Biloba (leaf extract) taken orally, twice a day, helps in premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which starts on the 16th and ends on the 5th day of every menstrual cycle.
  • 60 – 240 milligram of Ginkgo Biloba (leaf extract) taken orally twice a day, helps reduce the symptoms associated with SSRI-induced Sexual Dysfunction.
  • 120 – 160 milligram of Ginkgo Biloba (leaf extract) taken orally thrice or twice a day, helps in treating vertigo (a feeling of whirling and loss of body balance).
  • 360 milligram of Ginkgo Biloba (leaf extract) taken orally, twice a day, helps reduce the symptoms associated with Raynaud’s disease (a numb feeling or sensation in fingers and toes).
  • 40 milligram of Ginkgo Biloba (leaf extract) taken orally, thrice a day for a duration of 4 weeks, helps normalize the tension caused by glaucoma.

Ginkgo Biloba is available in the form of tinctures, capsules, and tablets.

Few precautions you need to maintain

It is safe to avoid Ginkgo Biloba if allergic to the same. It is also better to avoid medications with a combination of Ginkgo Biloba. Medications such as Zyprexa, Zyprexa Relprevv, or Zyprexa Zydis contain Ginkgo Biloba and should be avoided if allergic. It is mandatory to avoid Ginkgo Biloba if diagnosed with any bleeding disorder. Likewise, it is important to avoid ginkgo Biloba prior to surgery. Avoid if hypersensitive.

Avoid consuming the nuts raw as they are said to be toxic and cause adverse reactions. The nuts contain a potent neurotoxin (4-O-methoxypyridoxine) which indirectly takes control of the enzyme glutamate decarboxylase and cause excessive seizures.

Gingko in a nutshell

As quoted by YaleEnvironment360, “Millions of urban dwellers know the Ginkgo primarily as a street tree, with elegant, fan-shaped leaves, foul-smelling fruits, and nuts prized for their reputed medicinal properties.” In recent days, it is used by many people who are aroused to improve their memory and intellectual aspect. It has been a natural memory enhancement supplement that has survived through several centuries.

It influences better social behavior and possesses the ability to improve a persons’ everyday tasks responses. The only available source of the Ginkgo Biloba is extracted from the tree. Most of the supplements are derived from the leave as the seeds are said to cause adverse reactions when consumed raw.

The very existence of the tree was traced by the fossil presence it shadows in the geographical regions of China and Japan. This paved a way for paleontologists and medical personnel to make use of the same and invent supplements that are circulated around the globe. The reputation of the Ginkgo Biloba is propagated around the globe; this has pushed people to consume the same in order to avoid any symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s. Apart from its huge benefits, it is of great necessity that every individual eats healthy and maintains a healthy lifestyle. 


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