Ginkgo biloba leaves

Ginkgo biloba

Description

The Ginkgo biloba, or maidenhair tree, originated in China nearly two million years ago and is the oldest species of tree on earth. Its leaves and seeds have been used as natural remedies for centuries. Yet it’s only in recent decades that medical researchers have found evidence that ginkgo appears to improve cognitive functions (knowing, learning and understanding), and to slow cognitive decline. Ginkgo biloba is widely studied and in Germany and China it is a commonly prescribed herbal medication.

Parts used

Leaves.

Constituents

The active ingredients in ginkgo biloba are flavonoids (which have powerful antioxidant properties), ginkgolides (unique compounds that suppress a clot-promoting substance in the body) and a sesquiterpenoid called bilobalide.

Medicinal uses

Ginkgo biloba is the most commonly taken herb for brain health.
It is prescribed to:

  • Help manage disorders related to the central and peripheral circulation, such problems with concentration and cognitive function.
  • Help improve poor memory, forgetfulness
  • May slow down the progression of tissue degeneration and relieve depression in people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Help in cases of poor peripheral circulation, which is extremely important for transporting blood around the body, exchange of nutrients with tissues and storing blood.
  • Ginkgo biloba may make blood less ‘sticky’, reducing the risk of blood clots.
  • It may encourage pain-free walking in patients with intermittent claudication (painful leg cramps), peripheral vascular disease and Raynaud’s disease.
  • May be useful in cases of atherosclerosis.
  • Some studies suggest that ginkgo may help quality of sleep.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Ginkgo biloba is generally considered safe, but it may cause mild gastrointestinal upset, headache, dizziness, palpitations and constipation. Larger doses can cause restlessness, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and weakness. Do not take ginkgo if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is not advisable to embark on any course of herbal remedies without consulting your natural medicine practitioner. Remember also that although ginkgo has shown some success in treating ailments related with old age, it will not reverse the ageing process.

Ginkgo biloba tree

Flora Force Products containing Ginkgo biloba

Domestic & culinary uses

No records were found of ginkgo biloba having any culinary use.

Cultivation

This native of China is grown all over the world for its novelty and its beauty. Ginkgo is an erect, slow-growing deciduous tree that bears pretty soft green, two-lobed leaves. Male and female flowers are found on separate trees and fruit will only form when they are planted near each other. Plant this hardy specimen in full sun in fertile, well-drained soil.

Ginkgo biloba trees are so hardy that six specimens survived and budded after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, despite being near the blast centre.

Photo credits

  1. Ginkgo leaves by James Field (Jame) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Ginkgo biloba tree by Darkone via Wikimedia Commons
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.