Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba L.)

background

Ginkgo biloba has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Today, it is one of the top-selling herbs in the United States.
Ginkgo is used for the treatment of numerous conditions, many of which are under scientific investigation. Available evidence supports ginkgo for managing dementia, anxiety, schizophrenia, and cerebral insufficiency (insufficient blood flow to brain).
Evidence for other uses is either lacking or mixed. Further research is needed for all uses of ginkgo.
Although ginkgo is generally well tolerated, it should be used cautiously in people with clotting disorders or taking blood thinners, or prior to some surgical or dental procedures, due to reports of bleeding.

Related Terms

6-Hydroxykynurenic acid, adiantifolia, AKL1, arbre aux quarante écus (French), ArginMax®, bai guo ye, baiguo, bilobalide, BioGinkgo®, Blackmores Ginkgo Brahmi (Bacopa monniera), BN-52063, duck foot tree, EGb, EGb 761®, Elefantenohr (German), eun-haeng (Korean), Fächerblattbaum (German), flavone glycosides, flavonoid glycosides, fossil tree, GBE, GBE 24, GBX, Geriaforce® tincture, ginan, ginaton, Gincosan®, Ginexin Remind®, gingko, Gingopret®, Ginkai®, ginkgo balm, Ginkgo biloba Blätter (German), Ginkgo biloba exocarp polysaccharides (GBEP), Ginkgo bilba extract, Ginkgo biloba L. extracts, Ginkgo biloba Linné (form. Salisburia adiantifolia Sm.), ginkgo flavone glycosides, Ginkgo folium, Ginkgo Go®, ginkgo leaf extract, Ginkgo Phytosome®, Ginkgo Powder®, Ginko T.D.™, Ginkgoaceae (family), Ginkgobene®, Ginkgoblätter (German), ginkgogink, Ginkgold®, ginkgolic acids, ginkgolides, ginkgopower, Ginkopur®, ginkyo, gin-nan (Japanese), GK 501, glucaric acid, glucose, Herbal vX®, icho (Japanese), isorhamnetin, ityo, Japanbaum (German), Japanese silver apricot, kaempferol, Kaveri®, kew tree, kung sun shu, LI 1370, maidenhair tree, noyer du Japon (French), organic acids, Oriental plum tree, pei kuo, pei-wen, proanthocyanidins, Pterophyllus, Pterophyllus salisburiensis, quercetin, rhamnose, Rö Kan®, Rökan, Rokan, salisburia, Salisburia adiantifolia, Salisburia macrophylla, Seredin, Seredrin®, silver apricot, sophium, Tanakan®, tanakene, tebofortan, Tebonin®, tempeltrae, temple balm, terpenelactones, terpenoids, tramisal, valverde, vasan, vital, ya chio, yin-guo, yin-hsing (Chinese).
Combination products: Rhodiola-Ginkgo Capsule (RGC), ArginMax® (extracts of Ginkgo, ginseng, damiana, L-arginine, multivitamins, and minerals), Herbal vX® (Muira puama and Ginkgo), Gincosan® (Ginkgo biloba and Panax ginseng).

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
 
Cerebral insufficiency (insufficient blood flow to the brain) (Grade: B)
Cerebral insufficiency is characterized by poor concentration, confusion, decreased physical performance, fatigue, headache, dizziness, depression, and anxiety. Research of ginkgo for cerebral insufficiency has demonstrated efficacy in reducing symptoms. However, additional research is warranted in this area.
Dementia (Grade: B)
Overall, the scientific literature suggests that ginkgo benefits people with dementia. Ginkgo may improve cognitive performance and protect against Alzheimer's. However, conclusions regarding ginkgo for dementia are often conflicting. Additional research is needed in this area.
Generalized anxiety disorder (Grade: B)
From available research, ginkgo offers benefit to people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Further research is needed to confirm dosing and who may benefit most from ginkgo.
Schizophrenia (Grade: B)
Research suggests that in combination with antipsychotics, ginkgo may offer benefits for people with schizophrenia. Additional research is needed on this topic.
Altitude (mountain) sickness (Grade: C)
Research on ginkgo for the treatment of altitude (mountain) sickness reports conflicting results. Additional research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Asthma (Grade: C)
Ginkgo extract or a ginkgo combination product may reduce asthma symptoms. Further research is required before a conclusion can be drawn.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Grade: C)
Limited research suggests that ginkgo is less effective than methylphenidate for symptoms of ADHD. Studies using combination therapies with ginkgo suggest benefits for ADHD symptoms. Further research on ginkgo alone is needed on this topic.
Autism (Grade: C)
Ginkgo may reduce behaviors and symptoms of autism. Further well-designed research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Blood pressure control (Grade: C)
Conclusions on the effects of ginkgo on blood pressure control are lacking. Further research is needed is this area before a conclusion can be made.
Cancer prevention (Grade: C)
Ginkgo lacked an effect on the cancer development in people taking ginkgo. Ginkgo also lacked protective effects on bladder cancer risk. Further research is needed on this topic.
Chemotherapy side effects reduction (Grade: C)
There is inconclusive evidence regarding the efficacy of ginkgo to reduce the vascular adverse effects associated with some chemotherapy, such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). Further studies are required on this topic.
Chronic cochleovestibular disorders (ear disorder) (Grade: C)
There is limited available evidence of the effect of ginkgo in chronic cochleovestibular disorders. Further trials are required before conclusions may be drawn.
Chronic venous insufficiency (damaged vein valves) (Grade: C)
Ginkgo may widen and relax blood vessels. A combination product containing ginkgo may aid in treating people with lower limb chronic venous insufficiency. Further research is needed in this area.
Claudication (painful legs from clogged arteries) (Grade: C)
Ginkgo may improve claudication symptoms. However, improvements in the absolute claudication distance were lacking in some studies. Additional evidence from high-quality trials is still needed before conclusions may be drawn.
Cocaine dependence (Grade: C)
Ginkgo has also been found to increase chemicals from the brain. It is not clear whether ginkgo is helpful in treating cocaine dependence. Further research is needed in this area.
Cognitive performance (Grade: C)
According to limited research, ginkgo may improve cognitive function in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and vascular cognitive impairment no dementia (VCIND). However, other research found benefits were lacking. More well-designed studies are needed before a firm conclusion may be made.
Decreased libido and erectile dysfunction (Grade: C)
It has been postulated that Ginkgo may be effective for treating erectile dysfunction. Ginkgo may help dilate blood vessels. However, additional research is needed in this area.
Depression and seasonal affective disorder (Grade: C)
There is insufficient available evidence regarding the use of ginkgo for depression or seasonal affective disorder.
Diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease) (Grade: C)
The effect of ginkgo has been studied on various endpoints in people with diabetic nephropathy. Benefits were observed in parameters of kidney function. Further research is required before conclusions may be drawn.
Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) (Grade: C)
Ginkgo in combination with B vitamins lacked an effect on symptoms of diabetic neuropathy vs. B vitamins alone. Further research is needed.
Dyslexia (Grade: C)
Ginkgo is traditionally used for improved memory or cognition. Preliminary results suggest that Ginkgo may be of benefit for dyslexia. More studies are required before conclusions may be drawn.
Exercise performance (Grade: C)
Limited research reported a ginkgo combination formula enhanced endurance in healthy males.
Fibromyalgia (nervous system disorder) (Grade: C)
CoQ10 and ginkgo improved quality of life and self-rating scores in people with fibromyalgia. Further research is needed on the effects of ginkgo alone for this use.
Glaucoma (increased eye pressure) (Grade: C)
Research suggests that ginkgo lacks an effect on glaucoma. Ginkgo may benefit other aspects of eye health, such as increasing blood flow and protecting against visual field damage. Further research is needed in this area.
Graves' disease (thyroid disorder) (Grade: C)
Ginkgo's potential antioxidant properties may reduce toxicity associated with iodine-131 therapy. Further studies are required before firm conclusions may be made.
Hearing loss (Grade: C)
In individuals with hearing loss, a higher dose of ginkgo was more effective than a lower ginkgo dose. Ginkgo may decrease the ear inflammation and improve hearing. Well-designed research is still needed in this area.
Heart disease (Grade: C)
Ginkgo may have positive benefits on blood flow and relax blood vessels. However, ginkgo may lack benefit on other cardiovascular events. Further studies are required in this area.
Hemorrhoids (Grade: C)
In early research, ginkgo was effective in the treatment of people with hemorrhoids. Components of ginkgo may also reduce pain and bleeding associated with hemorrhoids. Additional research is needed to confirm these results.
High blood sugar/glucose intolerance (Grade: C)
Effects of Ginkgo on insulin and glucose responses were lacking in people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or normal glucose tolerance. Further research is needed.
Macular degeneration (eye disease) (Grade: C)
Preliminary research suggests that ginkgo may have antioxidant effects and improve eye blood flow. It remains unclear if macular degeneration is significantly affected by ginkgo. More research is needed in this area before a conclusion can be drawn.
Memory enhancement (in healthy people) (Grade: C)
Evidence is mixed with respect to the use of Ginkgo for memory enhancement in healthy individuals. Additional research is needed in this area.
Mental performance (after eating) (Grade: C)
The effect of Ginkgo on mental alertness after eating is unclear. Ginkgo may have positive benefits on some but not all endpoints. Further study is needed on this topic.
Migraine (Grade: C)
Various trials have examined the effects of ginkgo as part of migraine treatment. Overall, these studies suggest an evidence of benefit in children and women. Further well-designed research is needed investigating the effects of Ginkgo itself.
Mood and cognition in post-menopausal women (Grade: C)
In early research, ginkgo appeared to have modest beneficial effects on mood and cognition in postmenopausal women. However, use of the multi-ingredient product Gincosan® lacked significant effects. Further research using ginkgo alone is needed to confirm these results.
Multiple sclerosis (Grade: C)
Ginkgo's anti-inflammatory and platelet-activating factor (PAF)-inhibiting properties may help treat multiple sclerosis (MS). However, well-designed trials showing benefits are lacking. Further research is needed in this area.
Ocular allergy (eye allergy) (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that the addition of Ginkgo may improve allergy symptoms in the eye. Well-designed research is still needed for this topic.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) (Grade: C)
There is insufficient evidence to draw conclusions ginkgo use for premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Well-designed studies are needed in this area.
Pulmonary interstitial fibrosis (scarred lung tissue) (Grade: C)
In early research, ginkgo was found to be effective in treating pulmonary interstitial fibrosis. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Quality of life (Grade: C)
A few studies have suggested that Ginkgo may aid in quality of life. More research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
Retinopathy (eye damage from type 2 diabetes) (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that ginkgo extract benefit to people with retinopathy. However, sufficient evidence is still lacking to draw a conclusion. Further studies are required in this area.
Skin aging (Grade: C)
A gel base containing ginkgo was effective for skin moisturizing, skin smoothness and wrinkle reduction. More research is needed in this area.
Smell disorders (Grade: C)
Ginkgo was found to lack additional benefit over glucocorticoids alone for loss is smell. Further research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Stomach cancer (Grade: C)
Limited evidence suggests ginkgo may reduce tumor volume. Further human studies are required before conclusions may be drawn.
Stroke recovery (Grade: C)
Laboratory studies suggest that ginkgo may be helpful immediately following strokes, because of possible antioxidant or blood vessel effects. However, initial study of ginkgo in people having strokes found a lack of benefit. Further research is needed in this area.
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) (Grade: C)
There is conflicting research regarding the use of ginkgo for tinnitus. Additional well-designed research is needed in order to resolve this controversy.
Vertigo (dizziness) (Grade: C)
There is inconclusive evidence regarding ginkgo for the treatment of vertigo. Additional research is needed to draw a conclusion.
Vitiligo (lack of skin pigmentation) (Grade: C)
Limited research has investigated the efficacy of ginkgo for vitiligo. Further well-designed studies are required on this topic.
Age-associated memory impairment (Grade: D)
Age-associated memory impairment (AAMI) is a nonspecific syndrome, which may be caused by early Alzheimer's disease or multi-infarct dementia. Overall evidence does not support benefits of Ginkgo for memory loss. Further studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Raynaud's disease (poor circulation) (Grade: D)
Limited research suggests that ginkgo may be effective in reducing the number of attacks in people with Raynaud's disease (RD). However, other studies reported that significant changes were lacking. In order to make firm conclusions, further research is required.