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Information about Ginkgo

Ginkgo is a popular herbal medication and extract derived from the leaves and seeds of the tree Ginkgo biloba

Liver safety of Ginkgo

Ginkgo has not been implicated in causing liver injury.

Mechanism of action of Ginkgo

Ginkgo (ging' koe) is a widely used herbal derived from the leaves and seeds of the Ginkgo biloba tree, a “living fossil”, being the only extant species of what was a large order of plants (Ginkgoales) more than 200 million years ago. Ginkgo is native to central China, but has been introduced worldwide.  The word ginkgo derives from a Japanese approximation of the Chinese word for “silver apricot” referring to the tree’s fruit.  Extracts from ginkgo leaves and seeds were used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries for a multitude of illnesses and conditions.  Ginkgo extracts contain multiple compounds, but ginkgolides and bilobalide are unique to this herb.  Ginkgo extracts have been shown to have antioxidant, antiinflammatory and antihistaminic activity.  Current uses are many and include dementia, memory loss, headache, dizziness, tinnitus, hearing problems, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, peripheral vascular disease, asthma, and bronchitis.  Ginkgo is purported to increase mental acuity and delay the effects of aging on the brain, as well as improve peripheral circulation, prevent macular degeneration and decrease symptoms of claudication and Raynaud’s syndrome.  Ginkgo leaf extract is also used in foods, cosmetics, and skin lotions.  The scientific bases for the purported effects of ginkgo are not well established and clinical trials have shown no or only modest clinical effects in dementia, claudication and tinnitus. 

Dosage and administration for Ginkgo

Ginkgo is available in a variety of formulations (tablets, capsules, powder, teas, and lotions) and the typical oral dosage is 120 to 240 mg per day in 2 to 3 divided doses. 

Side effects of Ginkgo

Side effects of ginkgo are uncommon and mild, and include gastrointestinal upset, nausea, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, increased bleeding tendency and rash.  In clinical trials, both serious and common side effects have been no more frequent with ginkgo than placebo.

Herbal and dietary supplements

Chinese and Other Asian Herbal Medicines

Multi-Ingredient Nutritional Supplements

See also Nutritional supplements
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