Everything you need to know about Ginkgo

Have you heard of gingko? The herb Ginkgo biloba, or ginkgo for short, has been used medicinally both in Europe and the U.S. since the 1700’s and though it is one of the most frequently prescribed herbal remedies in Germany currently, there is evidence of ancient Chinese healers describing this herbs medicinal properties. Used to treat many health conditions, ginkgo is especially used for cognitive function including for memory improvement and even for longevity, possibly because of its link to cardiovascular health support. Read on for Everything you need to know about Ginkgo!

I regularly contribute to a very cool health and wellness site called Foodtrients where I write about evidence-based nutrition topics and wanted to be sure to share this one on ginkgo because unlike some herbal remedies, there is a lot of available scientific research on gingko. The best research exists on ginkgo for reducing anxiety and improving cognitive function though there are many reasons people use this herb medicinally. It also contains antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-cancer and antiviral properties because of its compounds called ginkgo flavonol glycoside and terpenoids.


A collection of research has shown that ginkgo may be able to modestly improve memory and speed of cognitive processing even in those with no previous complaints of memory impairment. There have been many studies done with ginkgo on Alzheimer’s, vascular and other dementias that have shown stabilization and even some improvement in this population. Overall, the current evidence suggests that ginkgo may benefit cognitive performance and activities of daily living in the treatment of dementia. Scientists do note that some studies on this area of health should be better constructed so more research is needed to make further conclusions.

Other reasons to take ginkgo include eye health with improvements observed for patients with diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Ginkgo has been linked to longevity perhaps because of its use in supporting cognitive function as well as promoting cardiovascular health. Studies have shown promise for use in patients with peripheral artery disease and high blood pressure. Whether it will extend life or not, it has also been used to increase quality of life including decreasing pain and reducing anxiety.

Generally, when used correctly, ginkgo is well tolerated and may cause only mild side effects, if any. Of course, it could cause an allergic reaction like any other herb or plant when consumed. Finally, use caution with medication and other herb interactions such as Xanax, antidepressants, and medications that thin the blood, lower blood pressure or cholesterol.  There is a major interaction with an antiviral medication so it is best to discuss with your healthcare provider before starting this herb with certain medications or medical conditions for safety. For Everything you need to know about Ginkgo, you may need to consult an herbalist or naturopath for safety on this and other types of herbs. 

Want more info on herbs and natural remedies? I’ve got my 5 Foods that Don’t Deserve their Bad Reputations, Exploring the Food Trend Maca, and 5 Ways to Benefit from Nettles on the blog! Check it out. 

What have your successes or challenges been with the Ginkgo biloba herb? Let me know in the comments!




Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO

An award-winning, nationally recognized nutrition expert and media spokesperson.

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