Neither the government or the medical community have universally approved Ginkgo biloba as a cure for dementia and memory loss, but this supplement has a reputation of supporting cognitive function and many people swear by it. The American Medical Association did publish a study in 1997 that suggests Ginkgo biloba’s positive effects on symptoms of dementia.
In addition to sharpening cognitive function, Ginkgo biloba is believed to benefit the immune system and improve blood circulation. It’s used for a broad range of ailments, such as memory loss, poor circulation, vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), the early stages of dementia, and as a blood thinner.
How does Ginkgo biloba work?
The journal American Family Physician suggests that Ginkgo biloba is an antioxidant and free-radical scavenger, with modest improvements for symptoms of dementia. Studies have even shown the herb to help people on antidepressants who experience decreased sexual function.
The Ginkgo tree, native to Korea, China, and Japan, is the oldest species of tree in the world. Charles Darwin called it “a living fossil”, because its fossils have be found and date back 250 million years, according to Scientific American.
Its byproduct, Ginkgo biloba, is a traditional, age-old Chinese remedy that has been used through the centuries to improve memory and mental clarity.
This medicinal extract comes from both the seeds and the dried leaves of the Ginkgo tree. The seed was mainly used to support respiratory health and alleviate symptoms of asthma.
In Europe and the United States, the leaf extract of Ginkgo biloba has been broadly tested for its effects on blood flow, nerve function, and memory. It is the most widely sold medicinal plant in Europe. Multiple tests have been performed on Ginkgo biloba, and around 120 studies from Europe have been published. In addition, this herb is generally well tolerated with limited side effects.
Ginkgo biloba Side Effects
When taken as directed, Ginkgo biloba extract has a low incidence of side effects. Those taking it need to be sure to follow guidelines and not ingest more than directed. Consistently high doses can cause major digestive discomfort. Also, the National Institutes of Health conducted clinical trials on the supplement and cautions that anyone taking aspirin first consult with a doctor before trying Ginkgo biloba, as internal bleeding can occur. The same goes for warfarin and any antiplatelet medication.
American Family Physician recommends a dosage of 120 to 240 mg daily, taken in two to three doses (at this dosage, expect to pay about $20/month—our recommended online retailer sells ginkgo for under $18 for a month’s supply). Compared with other alternative medicines, Ginkgo biloba is a “relatively safe, inexpensive, and modestly effective treatment” for dementia and memory improvement. The herb seems to work best for people with mild to moderate memory impairment.
If you’re looking for a memory-enhancing supplement, you may also want to check out Xtend Life’s Neuro Natural Memory (which contains Ginkgo, as well as many other worthwhile ingredients).