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GINKGO

Other Names:

Abricot Argenté Japonais, Adiantifolia, Arbre aux Écus, Arbre aux Quarante Écus, Arbre du Ciel, Arbre Fossile, Bai Guo Ye, Baiguo, Extrait de Feuille de Ginkgo, Extrait de Ginkgo, Fossil Tree, Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf, Ginkgo Extract, G...
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GINKGO Overview
GINKGO Uses
GINKGO Side Effects
GINKGO Interactions
GINKGO Dosing
GINKGO Overview Information

Ginkgo is an herb. The leaves are generally used to make “extracts” that are used as medicine. However, a few medicines are made from the seed, but these are not well studied.

Ginkgo is often used for memory disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used for conditions that seem to be due to reduced blood flow in the brain, especially in older people. These conditions include memory loss, headache, ringing in the ears, vertigo, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and hearing disorders. Some people use it for other problems related to poor blood flow in the body, including leg pain when walking (claudication), and Raynaud’s syndrome (a painful response to cold, especially in the fingers and toes).

Ginkgo leaf is also used for thinking disorders related to Lyme disease and depression.

Some people use ginkgo to treat sexual performance problems. It is sometimes used to reverse the sexual performance problems that can accompany taking certain antidepressants called SSRIs.

Ginkgo been tried for eye problems including glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The list of other uses of ginkgo is very long. This may be because this herb has been around for so long. Ginkgo biloba is one of the longest living tree species in the world. Ginkgo trees can live as long as a thousand years. Using ginkgo for asthma and bronchitis was described in 2600 BC.

In manufacturing, ginkgo leaf extract is used in cosmetics. In foods, roasted ginkgo seed, which has the pulp removed, is an edible delicacy in Japan and China. Remember, though, the whole seed is LIKELY UNSAFE to eat.

Ginkgo interacts with many medicines. Before taking it, talk with your healthcare provider if you take any medications.

How does it work?

Ginkgo seems to improve blood circulation, which might help the brain, eyes, ears, and legs function better. It may slow down Alzheimer’s disease by interfering with changes in the brain that interfere with thinking.

Ginkgo seeds contain substances that might kill the bacteria and fungi that cause infections in the body. The seeds also contain a toxin that can cause side effects like seizure and loss of consciousness.

GINKGO Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Possibly Effective for:

  • Anxiety. Research shows that taking a specific ginkgo extract (EGb 761, Tanakan, Ipsen) can reduce symptoms of anxiety.
  • Mental function. Most evidence suggests that ginkgo can slightly improve memory, speed of thinking, and attention in healthy adults. Some evidence suggests that taking ginkgo in combination with Panax ginseng or codonopsis can improve memory better than the individual ingredients alone. However, a specific combination of ginkgo and Panax ginseng (Gincosan) does not seem to improve mood or thinking in postmenopausal women. Also, taking a specific product containing ginkgo and brahmi (Blackmores Ginkgo Brahmi) does not seem to improve memory or problem solving in healthy adults.
  • Dementia. Some evidence shows that taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth modestly improves symptoms of Alzheimer’s, vascular, or mixed dementias. However, there are concerns that findings from many of the early ginkgo studies may not be reliable. Although most clinical trials show ginkgo helps for symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, there are some conflicting findings, suggesting it may be hard to determine which people might benefit.
  • Vision problems in people with diabetes. There is some evidence that taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth can improve color vision in people with retinas that have been damaged by diabetes.
  • Vision loss (glaucoma). Taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth seems to improve pre-existing damage to the visual field in people with normal tension glaucoma.
  • Leg pain when walking due to poor blood flow (peripheral vascular disease). Some evidence shows that taking ginkgo leaf extract seems to increase the distance people with poor blood circulation in their legs can walk without pain. Taking ginkgo might also reduce the chance of requiring surgery.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth seems to relieve breast tenderness and other symptoms associated with PMS when started during the 16th day of the menstrual cycle and continued until the 5th day of the following cycle.
  • Schizophrenia. Research shows that taking gingko daily in addition to conventional antipsychotic medications can reduce symptoms of schizophrenia. It may also reduce adverse effects associated with the antipsychotic medication, haloperidol.
  • A movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia. Tardive dyskinesia is a movement disorder that is caused by certain antipsychotic drugs. Research shows that taking a specific ginkgo extract (EGb 761) can reduce the severity of tardive dyskinesia symptoms in people with schizophrenia who are taking antipsychotic drugs
  • Vertigo and dizziness. Taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth seems to improve symptoms of dizziness and balance disorders.

Possibly Ineffective for:

  • Age-related memory loss. Although some research suggests that ginkgo leaf extract might slightly improve memory and mental function in people with age-related memory problems, most evidence shows that taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth does not improve memory or attention in older people with normal mental function, in those with mild mental problems, or in those with dementia and age-related memory loss.
  • Sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressant drugs. Although some early research suggests that taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth might improve sexual problems caused by antidepressant drugs, other research suggests it is probably not effective.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth does not seem to prevent winter depression in people with SAD.
  • Asthma. Research shows that taking a specific combination product containing ginkgo, ginger, Picrorrhiza kurroa, and apocynin (AKL1) by mouth does not improve respiratory symptoms or quality of life in people with asthma.
  • Cocaine addiction. Research suggests that taking a specific ginkgo leaf extract (EGb 761) by mouth does not help cocaine addicts stop using cocaine.
  • High blood pressure. Research shows that taking a specific ginkgo leaf extract (EGb 761) by mouth for up to 6 years does not reduce blood pressure in older people with high blood pressure.
  • Multiple sclerosis. Taking ginkgo leaf extract or ginkgolide B, a specific chemical found in ginkgo extract, does not improve mental function or disability in people with multiple sclerosis.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth does not seem to improve ringing in the ears.

Likely Ineffective for:

  • Heart disease. Taking a specific ginkgo extract (EGb 761, Tanakan, Ipsen) does not reduce the chance of having a heart attack, chest pain, or stroke in elderly people.

Insufficient Evidence for:



GINKGO LEAF EXTRACT
  • Age-related vison loss (age-related macular degeneration). There is some early evidence that ginkgo leaf extract might improve symptoms and distance vision in people with age-related vision loss.
  • Altitude sickness. Research on the effects of ginkgo leaf extract on altitude sickness is inconsistent. Some research suggests that taking ginkgo leaf extract can reduce altitude sickness symptoms when taken 4 days before climbing. However, other research shows that using a specific ginkgo extract (GK 501, Pharmaton, Switzerland) for 1-2 days before climbing does not prevent altitude sickness.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There is early evidence that a specific combination product (AD-fX, CV Technologies, Canada) containing ginkgo leaf extract, in combination with American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), might help improve ADHD symptoms such as anxiety, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness in 3 to 17 year-old children.
  • Colorectal cancer. Early research suggests that using a specific ginkgo leaf extract (EGb 761, Tanakan, Ipsen) intravenously (by IV) together with anticancer drugs might benefit people with colorectal cancer.
  • Dyslexia. Early research suggests that taking a specific ginkgo leaf extract (EGb 761) can help reduce dyslexia in children.
  • Fibromyalgia. Early research suggests that taking specific ginkgo leaf extract tablets (Bio- Biloba, Pharma Nord) together with coenzyme Q-10 capsules (Bio Quinone Q10, Pharma Nord) by mouth might increase feelings of wellness and perception of overall health and reduce pain.
  • Hearing loss. There is some early evidence that taking ginkgo might help short-term hearing loss due to unknown causes. However, many of these people recover hearing on their own. It is hard to know if ginkgo has any effect.
  • Hemorrhoids. Early research suggests that taking a combination of ginkgo and certain conventional medications might decrease some symptoms of hemorrhoids, including bleeding and pain.
  • Migraine. Early evidence shows that taking ginkgolide B, a chemical found in ginkgo leaf extract, might help prevent migraines in children and women
  • Ovarian cancer. Evidence suggests that using ginkgo leaf extract is associated with a decreased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Pancreatic cancer. Early research suggests that taking a specific ginkgo leaf extract (EGb 761) intravenously (by IV) together with anticancer drugs might slow the progression of pancreatic cancer in some people.
  • Quality of life. Early evidence suggests that taking ginkgo extract might improve quality of life measures such as activities in daily living, mood, sleep, and alertness in older people.
  • Radiation exposure. Early research suggests that taking a specific ginkgo leaf extract (EGb 761, Tanakan Ipsen) might reduce some of the negative effects of radiation on the body.
  • Blood vessel disorder (Raynaud’s syndrome). Some research suggests that taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth can decrease the number of painful attacks per week in people with a blood vessel disorder called Raynaud’s syndrome. However, other research suggests that ginkgo is not beneficial.
  • Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. Early research shows that adding ginkgo extract to eye drops can decrease redness, discharge, and swelling in people with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Sexual dysfunction. Some research shows that taking ginkgo leaf extract daily for 8 weeks does not improve sexual function in women with sexual arousal disorder. However, taking a specific combination product containing ginkgo, ginseng, damiana, L-arginine, multivitamins, and minerals (ArginMax) appears to improve sexual satisfaction in women with sexual dysfunction.
  • Stroke. There is contradictory evidence about the effectiveness of ginkgo for improving recovery in people with strokes caused by a clot. Some evidence suggests that people may improve more after a stroke when treated with ginkgo. However, other research shows no benefit.
  • Skin discolorations (Vitiligo). There is some early research that taking a specific ginkgo leaf extract (Ginkgo Plus, Seroyal) might decrease the size and spread of skin lesions.
  • High cholesterol.
  • “Hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis).
  • Blood clots, heart disease.
  • Thinking problems related to Lyme disease.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate ginkgo leaf extract for these uses.

GINKGO SEEDS
  • Coughs.
  • Asthma.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Urinary problems.
  • Digestion disorders.
  • Scabies.
  • Skin sores.
More evidence is needed to rate ginkgo seeds for these uses.


GINKGO Side Effects & Safety

Ginkgo LEAF EXTRACT is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth for most people when used in appropriate doses. It can cause some minor side effects such as stomach upset, headache, dizziness, constipation, forceful heartbeat, and allergic skin reactions.

There is some concern that ginkgo leaf extract might increase the risk of liver and thyroid cancers. However, this has only occurred in animals given extremely high doses of ginkgo. There is not enough information to know if it could happen in humans.

Ginkgo fruit and pulp can cause severe allergic skin reactions and irritation of mucous membranes. Ginkgo might cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, mango rind, or cashew shell oil.

There is some concern that ginkgo leaf extract might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Ginkgo thins the blood and decreases its ability to form clots. A few people taking ginkgo have had bleeding into the eye and into the brain, and excessive bleeding following surgery. Ginkgo leaf extract can cause allergic skin reactions in some people.

The ROASTED SEED or CRUDE GINKGO PLANT is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth. Eating more than 10 roasted seeds per day can cause difficulty breathing, weak pulse, seizures, loss of consciousness, and shock. The FRESH SEED is even more dangerous. Fresh seeds are poisonous and are LIKELY UNSAFE. Eating fresh gingko seeds could cause seizures and death.

Not enough is known about the safety of ginkgo when applied to the skin to determine if it is safe.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Ginkgo is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. It might cause early labor or extra bleeding during delivery if used near that time. Not enough is known about the safety of using ginkgo during breast-feeding. Do not use ginkgo if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Infants and children: Ginkgo leaf extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for a short time. Some research suggests that a specific combination of ginkgo leaf extract plus American ginseng might be safe in children when used short-term. Do not let children eat the ginkgo seed. It is LIKELY UNSAFE.

Diabetes: Ginkgo might interfere with the management of diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar closely.

Seizures: There is a concern that ginkgo might cause seizures. If you have ever had a seizure, don’t use ginkgo.

Infertility: Ginkgo use might interfere with getting pregnant. Discuss your use of ginkgo with your healthcare provider if you are trying to get pregnant.

Bleeding disorders: Ginkgo might make bleeding disorders worse. If you have a bleeding disorder, don’t use ginkgo.

Surgery: Ginkgo might slow blood clotting. It might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using ginkgo at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

GINKGO Interactions What is this?

Major Interaction Do not take this combination

  • Ibuprofen interacts with GINKGO

    Ginkgo can slow blood clotting. Ibuprofen can also slow blood clotting. Taking ginkgo with ibuprofen can slow blood clotting too much and increase the chance of bruising and bleeding.

  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with GINKGO

    Ginkgo can slow blood clotting. Taking ginkgo along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

    Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

  • Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with GINKGO

    Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Ginkgo might also slow blood clotting. Taking ginkgo along with warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.


Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination

  • Alprazolam (Xanax) interacts with GINKGO

    Taking Ginkgo along with alprazolam might decrease the effects of alprazolam.

  • Buspirone (BuSpar) interacts with GINKGO

    Ginkgo seems to affect the brain. Buspirone (BuSpar) also affects the brain. One person felt hyper and overexcited when taking ginkgo, buspirone (BuSpar), and other medications. It is unclear if this interaction was caused by ginkgo or the other medications.

  • Efavirenz (Sustiva) interacts with GINKGO

    Efavirenz is used to treat HIV infection. Taking efavirenz along with ginkgo extract might decrease the effects of efavirenz. Before taking ginkgo, talk to your healthcare provider if you take medications for HIV.

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac) interacts with GINKGO

    Taking ginkgo along with St. John's wort, other herbs and fluoxetine (Prozac) might cause you to feel irritated, nervous, jittery, and excited. This is called hypomania. It's not known if this is a concern when just ginkgo is taken with fluoxetine (Prozac).

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) interacts with GINKGO

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking ginkgo along with some medications that are changed by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking ginkgo talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

    Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include clozapine (Clozaril), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), fluvoxamine (Luvox), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), mexiletine (Mexitil), olanzapine (Zyprexa), pentazocine (Talwin), propranolol (Inderal), tacrine (Cognex), theophylline, zileuton (Zyflo), zolmitriptan (Zomig), and others.

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C19) substrates) interacts with GINKGO

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking ginkgo with these medications might decrease how well the medication works. Before taking ginkgo, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

    Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), carisoprodol (Soma), citalopram (Celexa), diazepam (Valium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), phenytoin (Dilantin), warfarin (Coumadin), and many others.

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates) interacts with GINKGO

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking ginkgo along with these medications that are change by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of your medication. Before taking ginkgo talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

    Some medications that are changed by this liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), diazepam (Valium), zileuton (Zyflo), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates) interacts with GINKGO

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking ginkgo along with some medications that are change by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of your medication. Before taking ginkgo talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

    Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), clozapine (Clozaril), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), donepezil (Aricept), fentanyl (Duragesic), flecainide (Tambocor), fluoxetine (Prozac), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), olanzapine (Zyprexa), ondansetron (Zofran), tramadol (Ultram), trazodone (Desyrel), and others.

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with GINKGO

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might affect how quickly the liver breaks down some medications, and lead to a variety of effects and side effects. Before taking ginkgo talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.

    Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), diltiazem (Cardizem), estrogens, indinavir (Crixivan), triazolam (Halcion), and others.

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with GINKGO

    Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar. Ginkgo might increase or decrease insulin and blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Taking ginkgo along with diabetes medications might decrease how well your medication works. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

    Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

  • Medications that increase the chance of having a seizure (Seizure threshold lowering drugs) interacts with GINKGO

    Some medications increase the chance of having a seizure. Taking ginkgo might cause seizures in some people. Taking medications that increase the chance of having a seizure along with ginkgo might greatly increase the risk of having a seizure. Do not take ginkgo with medications that increase the chance of having a seizure.

    Some medications that increase the chance of having a seizure include anesthesia (propofol, others), antiarrhythmics (mexiletine), antibiotics (amphotericin, penicillin, cephalosporins, imipenem), antidepressants (bupropion, others), antihistamines (cyproheptadine, others), immunosuppressants (cyclosporine), narcotics (fentanyl, others), stimulants (methylphenidate), theophylline, and others.

  • Medications used to prevent seizures (Anticonvulsants) interacts with GINKGO

    Medications used to prevent seizures affect chemicals in the brain. Ginkgo can also affect chemicals in the brain. By affecting chemicals in the brain, ginkgo might decrease the effectiveness of medications used to prevent seizures.
    Some medications used to prevent seizures include phenobarbital, primidone (Mysoline), valproic acid (Depakene), gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), and others.

  • Trazodone (Desyrel) interacts with GINKGO

    Trazodone (Desyrel) affects chemicals in the brain. Ginkgo can also affect chemicals in the brain. Taking trazodone (Desyrel) along with ginkgo might cause serious side effects in the brain. One person taking trazodone and ginkgo went into a coma. Do not take ginkgo if you are taking trazodone (Desyrel).


Minor Interaction Be watchful with this combination

  • Hydrochlorothiazide interacts with GINKGO

    Hydrochlorothiazide is used to help decrease swelling and control blood pressure. Taking hydrochlorothiazide along with ginkgo might increase blood pressure. Before taking ginkgo talk to your healthcare professional if you take medications for high blood pressure.

  • Omeprazole (Prilosec) interacts with GINKGO

    Omeprazole (Prilosec) is changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might increase how fast the liver breaks down omeprazole (Prilosec). Taking ginkgo with omeprazole (Prilosec) might decrease how well omeprazole (Prilosec) works.


GINKGO Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For dementia syndromes: a dosage of 120-240 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract, divided in two or three doses.
  • For cognitive function improvement in healthy young people: dosages of 120-600 mg per day.
  • For Raynaud’s disease: a dosage of 360 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract, divided into three doses.
  • For walking pain due to poor circulation (claudication, peripheral vascular disease): a dosage of 120-240 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract, divided into two or three doses, has been used; however, the higher dose may be more effective.
  • For vertigo: dosages of 120-160 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract, divided into two or three doses.
  • For premenstrual syndrome (PMS): 80 mg twice daily, starting on the sixteenth day of the menstrual cycle until the fifth day of the next cycle.
  • For the treatment of normal tension glaucoma: ginkgo leaf extract 40 mg 3 times daily up to four weeks.
For all uses, start at a lower dose of not more than 120 mg per day to avoid gastrointestinal (GI) side effects. Increase to higher doses indicated as needed. Dosing may vary depending on the specific formulation used. Most researchers used specific standardized Ginkgo biloba leaf extracts. Some people take 0.5 mL of a standard 1:5 tincture of the crude ginkgo leaf three times daily.

You should avoid crude ginkgo plant parts. These can contain dangerous levels of the toxic chemicals found in the seed of the plant and elsewhere. These chemicals can cause severe allergic reactions.

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This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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