Gingko Biloba: What are the benefits and how does it work?Ginkgo Biloba is also called the maidenhair tree- a tree that is thought of as a living fossil since it is one of the oldest types of trees on Earth.  A Ginkgo Biloba tree can live as long as 1,000 years and can reach a staggering 120 feet tall.  Extract from this tree is used in health supplements and also for disorders that affect memory such as Alzheimer’s disease.  Chinese herbal medicine has used Ginkgo Biloba for thousands of years for various health benefits.


Many people don’t know what is contained in Ginkgo Biloba, just that it is popular with health supplement makers.  There are several key ingredients that are beneficial to people suffering from various ailments.  Over 40 components make Ginkgo Biloba while only two are understood to have medicinal purposes – flavonoids and terpenoids.  Flavonoids are a plant based antioxidant while terpenoids improve blood flow by decreasing the concentration of  platelets and by dilating blood vessels in the veins.


Ginkgo Biloba has been used for improving one’s health and this includes treating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Cognitive functions are increased thanks to the improved blood circulation and protection of the brain from neuronal damages.  Better social behavior has been seen in patients that suffered from dementia once they were put on a Ginkgo Biloba supplement. While sometimes referred to as the “brain herb”, Ginkgo Biloba has shown positive results in the area of improving memory with people that suffer from dementia.  Younger and middle aged persons who are healthy have seen some improvement in memory once they added a Ginkgo Biloba supplement to their diet.


People suffering from anxiety problems have seen their symptoms lessened significantly due to adding a Ginkgo Biloba supplement to their diets. Intermittent Claudication is the clinical term for pain from reduced blood flow to the legs.  Sufferers of Intermittent Claudication have trouble walking without feeling severe pain.  Ginkgo Biloba has been shown in studies to work as well as prescription medications for people experiencing this kind of disease.


Glaucoma is the result of optic nerve damage causing the loss of vision.  By adding Ginkgo Biloba supplements to diets, many have experienced improvements in their vision. Used medicinally, Ginkgo Biloba has shown improvements with the retina, the back area of the eye.  Macular degeneration, sometimes called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) directly affects the retina.  AMD is recognized as the number one cause of blindness in the United States.


Women that experience heavy Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms that have taken a Ginkgo Biloba supplement have reported reduced symptoms.


There are side effects in taking Ginkgo Biloba supplements, including adversely interacting with other medications, supplements or herbs that you may be taking.  Milder symptoms reported include headaches, stomach upset, skin reactions and dizziness.  Due to the blood flow improvement effect of taking Ginkgo Biloba you should stop taking the supplement at least 36 hours before any surgery or dental work.  Alerting your doctor to Ginkgo Biloba being in your regular diet is a precautionary measure that should be observed.


Epilepsy sufferers should not take Ginkgo Biloba due to the nature of seizures.  Breastfeeding and pregnant women also should avoid Ginkgo Biloba.  Diabetic patients should consult their doctor prior to starting a Ginkgo Biloba supplement regimen.


Anyone that is allergic to poison ivy and other plants should avoid Ginkgo Biloba due to it containing long-chain alkylphenals. While there are many benefits to adding a Ginkgo Biloba supplement to your diet, please be aware of the possible side effects and interactions you may experience.  As always, please consult a licensed physician before beginning any supplement regimens to make sure they are right for you and your body.