Health Benefits of Ginkgo

Potential Benefits

Several claims have been made about the health benefits of Ginkgo because it contains powerful antioxidants, which fight the damaging effects of free radicals and are probably behind most of its health claims. The potential benefits include the following:

  • Can Help Fight Inflammation - It can reduce inflammation caused by various conditions. This may be one of the reasons it has such broad health applications. Some specific conditions in which ginkgo extract has shown to reduce inflammation include:

 

  • Arthritis

  • Irritable bowel disease (IBD)

  • Cancer

  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

 

  • Improves Circulation and Heart Health - Ginkgo can increase blood flow by promoting the dilation of blood vessels. This may have applications for the treatment of heart and other diseases related to poor circulation.

 

  • Reduces Symptoms of Psychiatric Disorders and Dementia - It cannot be concluded that ginkgo treats Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but it might help in some cases. The chances of it helping seem to increase when used alongside conventional treatments.

 

  • Improves Brain Function and Well-Being - Some research shows that ginkgo may improve mental performance in healthy people, but the data is inconsistent.

 

  • Can Treat Depression - Ginkgo’s anti-inflammatory effects give it the potential to treat depression. More research is needed to substantiate this claim.

 

  • Can Support Vision and Eye Health - Some early research shows that supplementing with ginkgo may increase blood flow to the eyes, but not necessarily improve vision. More research is needed.

 

  • Can Treat Headaches and Migraines - Because of its ability to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation, ginkgo may be an effective treatment for some types of headaches, if the headache is related to reduced blood flow or constricted blood vessels. However, some migraines are caused by the excessive dilation of blood vessels. In this situation, ginkgo may have little to no effect.

 

  • Can Improve Asthma and COPD Symptoms - Ginkgo may treat symptoms associated with respiratory diseases because of its anti-inflammatory effects. More research is needed.

 

  • Reduces PMS Symptoms - Ginkgo may help reduce PMS symptoms, but more research is needed.

 

  • Treats Sexual Dysfunction - Ginkgo may improve symptoms of sexual dysfunction due to its impact on blood flow. However, research has not proven it to be effective.

 

Potential Side Effects

It is important to consult your doctor before taking ginkgo. For most adults, the risk associated with taking ginkgo is relatively low, but there are cases in which ginkgo could cause serious harm for example, if you are allergic to plants that contain alkylphenols or are taking certain medications.

Possible side effects include:

  • nausea

  • diarrhoea

  • dizziness

  • headaches

  • stomach pain

  • rash/allergic reaction

Ginkgo has the potential to interact unfavourably with certain medications. Some interactions could increase the risk of bleeding.

Possible adverse medication interactions include those containing:

  • Blood thinners (Warfarin, aspirin)

  • SSRIs/MAOIs/antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft)

  • NSAIDS (ibuprofen, Tylenol)

 

As with any supplement, it is important to consult your doctor before taking ginkgo and stop use if you develop any negative side effects or adverse medication interactions.

 

Dosage and Supplement Forms

Ginkgo biloba is commercially available in the following forms:

  • capsules

  • tablets

  • liquid extracts

  • dried leaves/tea

Most of the current research reflects results used with purified ginkgo extract. Important: Do not eat raw ginkgo seeds, as they are poisonous.

 

From research carried out into trials, it became apparent that they did not use standardised dosing across trials. Therefore, comparative results cannot be considered reliable. However, the bulk of the evidence seems to support it is safe to take 120–240 mg divided into several doses throughout the day.

 

There is no clearly defined maximum dosage but is prudent to start with a lower dose and increase dosage to ensure tolerance, whilst watching for any side effects.

Most research has not evaluated doses greater than 600 mg per day. Therefore, it is not sensible to exceed that amount.

 

Note: It can take up to six weeks before you notice any positive or possibly negative effects.

 

In conclusion, Ginkgo biloba has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacities and an ability to improve circulation. Together, these characteristics have the potential to affect numerous body systems and diseases. Although the science behind it still has some catching up to do to prove its efficacy, many people throughout the world derive benefit from taking it as a supplement.

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