Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba - Nootropic Info & Review

Ginkgo Biloba is one of the oldest species of trees on Earth. Dating back 270 million years and having survived major extinction events, it’s easy to see why Ginkgo is called a “living fossil.”

Some Ginkgo trees grow to be 130 feet (39.6) meters high, and over 2,500 years old. In traditional Chinese medicine, where Ginkgo comes from, the leaves and seeds of the Ginkgo Tree have been used for asthma, coughs, poor circulation, and swelling of the hands and feet. [1]

Modern research has mostly focused on the benefits of Ginkgo extracts, which are made from the leaves. Ginkgo’s leaves contain potent antioxidants that are known to affect brain function – boosting blood flow, supporting neuron function, and offering other benefits we’ll discuss in this article.

While more human studies are needed to confirm how effective Ginkgo is, current evidence looks promising.

*Please remember that PharmacyGig doesn’t offer advice; our posts are for entertainment and informational purposes only! Always get a go-ahead from a qualified professional before considering a new supplement.

Physical Effects

  • Supports normal blood flow
  • Enhances skin elasticity & appearance
  • May help with blood sugar regulation
  • Fights inflammation & oxidative stress

Mental Effects

  • Improves mental clarity
  • Contributes to improved focus & alertness
  • May help with symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Supports recall, memory and cognition

How Does Ginkgo Biloba Work?

Ginkgo has interesting mechanisms of action. In the context of this post, here are the main ways Ginkgo affects your mood and cognition:

1. Boosts Nitric Oxide (NO) Levels

Nitric Oxide (NO) is a molecule that widens and dilates your blood vessels. Many bodybuilders take supplements like L-Citrulline, which boosts NO, to improve muscle pumps.

However, Ginkgo Biloba is especially effective at boosting NO levels in the brain – increasing cerebral microcirculation. This process allows more oxygen and glucose to be delivered to your brain cells for neuronal health.

Because of its effects on brain blood flow, Ginkgo has been researched for its potential to improve memory, recall, learning and cognition. [2, 3]

A study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine measured blood flow in 9 healthy men with MRI. Men went thorugh MRI’s before and after taking Ginkgo Beloba Extract 60mg twice per day for a month.

The study results showed that cerebral blood flow in all regions of the participant’s brains significantly changed after taking Ginkgo. [4]

2. Increases Antioxidant Activity in the Brain and Body

Ginkgo’s potential health effects may be the result of its antioxidant content. Containing high amounts of flavonoids and terpenoids, and other antioxidants, Ginkgo has the potential to neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals.

Free radicals are highy unstable particles and byproducts of your metabolism and other bodily functions. Free radicals can cause damage to your DNA and healthy tissue when they get out of control – this is a term called ‘oxidative stress’. High levels of oxidative stress are linked to disease and premature aging.

In simplest terms, antioxidants work by donating an extra electron to free radicals, turning them into healthy molecules in the process.

Research on Ginkgo and its ability to lower oxidative stress looks promising. However, science still isn’t sure how and if Ginkgo can assist in treating certain diseases.

3. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is highly correlated with oxidative stress. When one rises, often the other rises, too.

Some chronic conditions trigger inflammation in the body even when you aren’t ill or have an injury. Over time, this chronic inflammation can leave permanent damage in the body and brain. Leading to memory loss and cognitive decline.

Years of human cell and animal research shows that ginkgo extracts can reduce markers of inflammation in different disease states. [5, 6]

Some specific areas where Ginkgo has proven beneficial include:

  • Arthritis
  • IBS
  • Neuroinflammation

While the data looks encouraging, more human studies are needed before drawing any conclusions on gingko’s effects on these complex conditions.

4. Helps Executive Function & Processing Speed

Ginkgo is one of the most popular nootropics for memory. The word ‘nootropic’ is an increasingly popular term referring to substances and compounds that can safely and naturally support brain function.

Studies show that Ginkgo boosts mood, attention, and processing speed. A large study from Liberty University, Virginia recruited 262 adults. Lasting 6 weeks, this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial split the adults into two groups:

  • A placebo daily group
  • A 180mg of Ginkgo Biloba extract per day group

The study lasted 6 weeks. Afterwards, the participants went through a series of tests to assess aspects of their cognitive function. Interestingly, the Ginkgo group showed significant improvement in memory as well as verbal and visual recall. [7]

5. Supports Dopamine Production

Ginkgo biloba can boost dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is very important for basic biological processes. The reward molecule, as it’s often called, dopamine is also very important for keeping you motivated and productive.

Ginkgo works as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). MAO is an enzyme that breaks down dopamine. One of the benefits of reducing MAO, and increasing dopamine by extension, is an improvement in anxiety and ADHD symptoms. [8, 9, 10]

A study review suggests that ginkgo supplementation may relieve symptoms of depression, too. [11] Animals who were given Ginkgo before a stressful situation had lower cortisol levels and were better able to cope with a stressor than those that weren’t given the supplement.

In one human study, 170 individuals suffering from generalized anxiety took either 240mg of 480mg of Ginkgo or a placebo daily. The group that received the highest dose of Ginkgo saw a 45% greater reduction in their anxiety symptoms compared to the control group. [12]

Side Effects – is Ginkgo Biloba Safe?

Possible side effects of Ginkgo Biloba include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Stomach Pain
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Rashes or other allergic reactions

Ginkgo is one of those supplements that you should not take before speaking with your doctor – especially if you have a condition.

For most healthy people, the risk of side effects from taking Ginkgo is very low, but there are specific cases where Ginkgo could do harm.

**Remember that this post is for entertainment & informational purposes only. If you’re seeking medical advice, you need to speak with a qualified MD.

Dosage

The standard Ginkgo biloba dose used in studies is 40mg 3 times per day. However, many studies also use dosage that can range from 120-600mg per day depending on the goal of supplementation.

To get the most out of Ginkgo, you should supplement it for a minimum of 4 weeks. Reportedly, it takes up to 10 months of continuous Ginkgo supplementation to reach peak nootropic effects.

References

  1. Ginkgo Biloba and Memory. https://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/pharmacy/sepoct02/ginkgo.htm
  2. Mashayekh A, Pham DL, Yousem DM, Dizon M, Barker PB, Lin DD. Effects of Ginkgo biloba on cerebral blood flow assessed by quantitative MR perfusion imaging: a pilot study. Neuroradiology. 2011;53(3):185-191. doi:10.1007/s00234-010-0790-6
  3. Blecharz-Klin K, Piechal A, Joniec I, Pyrzanowska J, Widy-Tyszkiewicz E. Pharmacological and biochemical effects of Ginkgo biloba extract on learning, memory consolidation and motor activity in old rats. Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2009;69(2):217-31. PMID: 19593336.
  4. Mashayekh A, Pham DL, Yousem DM, Dizon M, Barker PB, Lin DD. Effects of Ginkgo biloba on cerebral blood flow assessed by quantitative MR perfusion imaging: a pilot study. Neuroradiology. 2011 Mar;53(3):185-91. doi: 10.1007/s00234-010-0790-6. PMID: 21061003; PMCID: PMC3163160.
  5. Zuo W, Yan F, Zhang B, Li J, Mei D. Advances in the Studies of Ginkgo Biloba Leaves Extract on Aging-Related Diseases. Aging Dis. 2017;8(6):812-826. Published 2017 Dec 1. doi:10.14336/AD.2017.0615
  6. Chen YJ, Tsai KS, Chiu CY, Yang TH, Lin TH, Fu WM, Chen CF, Yang RS, Liu SH. EGb761 inhibits inflammatory responses in human chondrocytes and shows chondroprotection in osteoarthritic rat knee. J Orthop Res. 2013 Jul;31(7):1032-8. doi: 10.1002/jor.22339. Epub 2013 Mar 11. PMID: 23483610.
  7. Mix JA, Crews WD Jr. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 in a sample of cognitively intact older adults: neuropsychological findings. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2002 Aug;17(6):267-77. doi: 10.1002/hup.412. PMID: 12404671.
  8. Wu WR, Zhu XZ. Involvement of monoamine oxidase inhibition in neuroprotective and neurorestorative effects of Ginkgo biloba extract against MPTP-induced nigrostriatal dopaminergic toxicity in C57 mice. Life Sci. 1999;65(2):157-64. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(99)00232-5. PMID: 10416821.
  9. Woelk H, Arnoldt KH, Kieser M, Hoerr R. Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761 in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2007 Sep;41(6):472-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2006.05.004. Epub 2006 Jun 30. PMID: 16808927.
  10. Uebel-von Sandersleben H, Rothenberger A, Albrecht B, Rothenberger LG, Klement S, Bock N. Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761® in children with ADHD. Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother. 2014 Sep;42(5):337-47. doi: 10.1024/1422-4917/a000309. PMID: 25163996.
  11. Montes P, Ruiz-Sanchez E, Rojas C, Rojas P. Ginkgo biloba Extract 761: A Review of Basic Studies and Potential Clinical Use in Psychiatric Disorders. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2015;14(1):132-49. doi: 10.2174/1871527314666150202151440. PMID: 25642989.
  12. Woelk H, Arnoldt KH, Kieser M, Hoerr R. Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761 in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2007 Sep;41(6):472-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2006.05.004. Epub 2006 Jun 30. PMID: 16808927.

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