An ancient species of tree, ginkgo has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to address cognitive decline and breathing issues, as well as kidney and bladder problems. Today, in addition to these problems, people take ginkgo extract for anxiety, allergies, dementia, eye problems, artery health, and tinnitus.
Here are 10 things you should know about ginkgo before adding it to your supplement lineup.
While many uses for ginkgo extract have yet to be proven effective, it does seem to improve blood circulation, which could be linked to benefits for the brain, ears, eyes, and more. In addition to improving blood flow, ginkgo can also offer antioxidant effects in the body.
Could help those with dementia
Studies have linked ginkgo extract to improvement in memory in those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. While it doesn’t seem to prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s, evidence suggests that it may help with symptoms. For such a use, a daily dose of more than 200 mg of ginkgo extract would need to be taken for at least five months. If you’re looking for more ways to protect your cognitive health, check out these Tried-and-True Tips to Power Up Your Brain.
Provides post-stroke support
For those recovering after a stroke, ginkgo may be able to help. Receiving ginkgo extract orally or by intravenous (IV) has been found to improve memory, thinking, and the ability to complete day-to-day tasks when used alongside conventional therapies. Further, while ginkgo doesn’t seem to reduce the risk of having another stroke, a combination of ginkgo extract and dipyridamole by IV could aid in recovery following a stroke.
Eases PMS symptoms
Taking ginkgo leaf extract from day 16 of the menstrual cycle and continuing until day five of the following cycle can help reduce breast tenderness and the severity of symptoms in those that suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In one study, women who took 40 mg of ginkgo extract three times a day for several days over two menstrual cycles experienced significantly reduced PMS symptoms, though more research is needed. If you’re looking for more forms of natural relief, check out this alive.com guide for more tips on reducing symptoms associated with your menstrual cycle.
Offers help for those with schizophrenia
Taking ginkgo extract orally alongside antipsychotic medications daily for 8 to 16 weeks can reduce some symptoms of schizophrenia. Evidence suggests that ginkgo can also help to reduce side effects associated with the antipsychotic medications, including thirst and constipation. Further, after 12 weeks of use, ginkgo has been shown to reduce symptoms of tardive dyskinesia—a movement disorder that can be caused by taking certain antipsychotic medications for schizophrenia.
Helps with vertigo
Taking ginkgo leaf extract orally has demonstrated effectiveness in improving symptoms of dizziness and balance issues associated with disorders such as vertigo. Often linked to an inner ear problem, vertigo can cause feelings of spinning, swaying, lack of balance, and being pulled in one direction. One study has shown that ginkgo extract offers similar effectiveness in treating some forms of vertigo as the most frequently prescribed anti-vertigo medication, betahistine.
Could boost overall well-being
Research suggests that supplementing with ginkgo extract could improve overall well-being by boosting motivation for daily activities. However, further investigation is still needed. . While ginkgo extract is generally considered safe to use for most people when taken in recommended doses, be sure to consult your doctor before adding ginkgo to your routine.
It’s an ancient tree
Believed to be one of the oldest species of trees—about 200 million years old—ginkgo trees are native to China, Japan, and Korea, but are now cultivated in other parts of the world. Individual trees can live for as long as a thousand years. Their use in human history for medicinal purposes dates back as early as 2600 BCE.
Used in supplements, food, and cosmetics
Most ginkgo supplements are made using the tree’s fan-shaped leaves and are commonly found in the form of oral tablets, capsules, tea, and extracts. Ginkgo is also used in cosmetics, and the seed of the tree is enjoyed as a delicacy in Japan and China. However, raw ginkgo seeds are poisonous so they should never be eaten.
Science still has lots to learn about ginkgo
While ginkgo is used for a vast array of medicinal purposes, supporting scientific evidence is still lacking for many of them. However, many uses have shown promise, though they require more research. There is no standard dose recommended for ginkgo, and different brands and forms can vary in their ginkgo concentrations and purity.