Ginkgo Biloba

DIVYA
December 7, 2020

Ginkgo biloba is popular for its medicinal benefits, which have evolved over the years. Though there’s little scientific backing for eating raw ginkgo leaves to relieve symptoms of anxiety or visual disorders, the herb is considered a notable nootropic from years of research. Also, experts think it has some antioxidant and anti-aging effects and can possibly improve memory, cognition, and thinking. 

Ginkgo is available in different forms; raw (seeds or leaves), capsule, tablets, extract, or teas. Though ginkgo extracts are powerful, some people prefer taking raw forms of the herb. However, taking ginkgo seeds (raw or roasted) has been found poisonous in humans, perhaps due to a toxin that causes certain serious side effects. Ginkgo extracts have recently found use in cosmetic products.

History of Ginkgo Biloba


Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species in plant history. Historians agree that the tree has Asian origin and has probably existed for several centuries in regions of China, Japan, and Korea. There are reasons to believe that Ginkgo biloba has been in existence for over 500 years now. What’s more, a ginkgo tree can live up to 1,000 years before it deteriorates. 

Functions


The possible benefits of ginkgo to the brain, specifically, are quite numerous. Let’s take a close look at some of them. 

  • Cognition Boosting: Ginkgo has proven helpful to neuro hackers who seek to enhance their cognition. 
  • Relieving Stress: By reducing the amount of cortisol in the body fluids, Ginkgo Biloba helps the brain to manage stress.
  • Cognitive Decline Due to Aging: In a study done on older adults with signs of cognitive decline, each subject was given about 180 mg of ginkgo extracts daily for six weeks. The report revealed improved verbal fluency and mental activity in the participants.
  • Protection from Alzheimer’s Disease: In parts of Europe, ginkgo is used in treating dementia and memory loss associated with aging. There are speculations that it might help prevent the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
  • Memory Enhancement: Ginkgo might boost memory in several ways. Improving blood circulation and oxygen supply to the brain might be the strongest method. It is also related to the treatment of age-related dementia.
  • Anxiety and Depression: In animal studies, ginkgo might reduce the fear response in rats. Also, for decades, people have used ginkgo to elevate their mood or relieve depression and anxiety. 

 

Flavonoid Glycosides and Terpene Lactones Contents

The nootropic effects of ginkgo biloba are largely due to the activities of flavonoid glycosides (such as quercetin) and terpene lactones (bilobalide, for example). The really effective supplements usually contain around 6 percent terpene lactones and 25 percent glycosides. 

Neurotransmitter Surge

Some of the potent excitatory effects of Ginkgo biloba on the brain are achieved by stimulating the release of greater levels of some neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, noradrenaline, and acetylcholine. Increased blood levels of these neurotransmitters reinforce their effects and make them last relatively longer in action. 

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Effects

This is more or less an extension of the effects of the flavonoid and terpenoid contents of ginkgo biloba. It acts as an antioxidant against free radicals and prevents inflammation in the brain. The combined effect boosts brain function by protecting the mitochondria from damage and preventing brain cells’ aging. 

Inhibiting Platelet Activating Factor (PAF) Receptors 

The action of ginkgo in blocking platelet-activating factor (PAF) receptors forms an effective means for improving cerebral circulation. Thus, blood flow to the brain increases with concomitant increased oxygen supply, which boosts thinking, memory, and cognition.

Adaptogenic Effect

Ginkgo biloba extracts help to reduce stress and anxiety levels by lowering corticosterone levels in the blood. Corticosterone serves as the so-called stress hormone; reducing its secretion would, in turn, reduce stress levels.

Dosage


Different dosage formulations have been proposed for many experimental purposes. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all standard of dosage. Your best dose largely depends on factors such as gender, age, medical history, and prescription. 

Oral administration of ginkgo biloba for clinical research usually involves using a standardized ginkgo leaf extract known as EGb 761. Most studies use 100-250 mg doses daily; however, some people take as much as 500 mg of ginkgo biloba extracts. Such high doses haven’t been proven to be more effective. 

Attention should be given to the amount of each active component in the supplement before use, as some supplements may not have enough of the flavonoids and terpenoids to be effective. Also, you would like to seek medical advice before you proceed with any dosage formulations.

Interactions


Certain drugs and chemicals can possibly interact with ginkgo extracts when administered together. This can be a cause of many serious adverse effects that can be avoided. Do not take ginkgo biloba extracts in combination with any of these substances.

  • Ibuprofen
  • Anticoagulant drugs, e.g., Warfarin, heparin, aspirin, etc. 
  • Alprazolam/ Xanax 
  • Trazodone 
  • Fluoxetine/ Prozac
  • Anticonvulsant drugs, e.g. Carbamazepine, primidone, phenytoin, etc. 
  • Drugs affected by the liver, e.g. Diazepam, diclofenac, tolbutamide, etc. 
  • Antidiabetic medications
  • Drugs that might lower the seizure threshold, e.g., antibiotics, antihistamines, antidepressants, etc. 
  • Omeprazole

Taking ginkgo extracts with any of these medications can increase the potency of some of them to deleterious levels. For example – slowing down blood clotting mechanisms around the body to the extent of fostering bleeding problems, in the case of combining ibuprofen with ginkgo biloba extracts. It can as well reduce the potency of some medications (for example, Efavirenz). 

Other effects of combining ginkgo biloba extracts with the aforesaid drugs include feelings of excitement or euphoria due to the combined effects on the brain, slowing down the breakdown of certain medications by the liver, and so on. 

Conclusion


Ginkgo biloba has made its mark amongst other effective nootropics. What’s more, this ancient herb has been studied across regions of the world. It remains one of the trusted cognitive boosting supplements; safe and effective.

References:

  • https://www.nootropedia.com/ginkgo-biloba/
  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-nootropic-brain-supplements#TOC_TITLE_HDR_12
  • https://holisticnootropics.com/nootropic/ginkgo-biloba/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263105
  • https://examine.com/supplements/Ginkgo+biloba/
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-ginkgo/art-20362032

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