Best Ginkgo Biloba Memory Supplements: Effectiveness, Benefits, and Is It Safe?

Ginkgo Biloba is considered a fully natural supplement that can improve your brain functioning and mental alertness. As one of the most ancient trees on the planet, Ginkgo has been used as a medicine for centuries. 

At present, it is one of the best-selling herbal medications across the world—but what makes it so popular as a supplement?

In this article, we will discuss the various properties of Ginkgo Biloba and find out what makes Ginkgo supplements so special.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ginkgo Biloba is one of the oldest species of plants on the planet and has been a part of Chinese medicine for centuries.
  • Ginkgo leaf extract contains multiple chemicals. Among them, terpene trilactones and flavone glycosides are the most beneficial ones.
  • Ginkgo is used to prevent dementia and for the improvement of anxiety and depression,  bleeding disorders, cognitive impairment, and cardiovascular health.
  • Two of the popular Ginkgo Biloba supplements are BrainPill and Qualia Mind.
  • The recommended safe dosage of Ginkgo Biloba is 240mg in a day.
  • Ginkgo Biloba is mostly free of side effects but its seeds are highly poisonous. Since it can interfere with other medications, exercise caution before consumption.

What Is Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo Biloba is a native Chinese tree the leaves of which have been used as medicine and supplements for many years. It is a deciduous tree that can reach close to 100 feet (30 meters) in height. The tree has fan-shaped leaves that form an attractive dense green canopy that turns yellow in fall.

Ginkgo is one of the oldest living plant species on the planet dating back 290 million years. For this reason, the Ginkgo tree is also called a "living fossil." Moreover, the Ginkgo plant can live for more than 1000 years.

The leaves contain a complex range of components that are used to treat a wide range of clinical conditions. The main benefit of this herbal supplement is relief from various psychiatric disorders and age-related conditions like dementia.

Does It Work?

At present, there are some doubts about the efficacy and the mechanisms of Ginkgo supplements. Ginkgo Biloba extract contains various forms of chemicals with terpene trilactones and flavone glycosides being the most beneficial ones [1] [2]. This gives Ginkgo antioxidant abilities that help minimize oxidative damages to the DNA structure and protein cells [3].

In addition, it also helps in stabilizing mitochondrial function and prevent mitochondrial abnormalities related to aging. The components in Ginkgo extract are also shown to have various positive effects on the cardiovascular system.

On the whole, the Ginkgo Biloba standardized extract can play an important role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases and chronic inflammatory diseases.

How Does Ginkgo Biloba Help Memory and Brain Function?

Some Ginkgo Biloba supplements claim to be effective for Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. Research has indicated that Ginkgo Biloba extracts can increase neuronal excitability in rodents [16]

Clinical trials also indicated that taking Ginkgo supplements resulted in better self-reported mental health and improvement in the quality of life for volunteers between 50 to 65 years of age [3].

Some studies have found a positive effect of Ginkgo Biloba supplements in the prevention of neurotoxicity by preventing any changes in the copper content of the brain cells [3]. Ginkgo Biloba supplements also play an important role in reducing the levels of specific proteins and peptides that play a role in Alzheimer-related cell mutations.

It also prevents the decrease in the levels of dopamine related to age in animal models. This could make it effective for treating Parkinson’s disease [3].

Overall the neuroprotective effect of Ginkgo Biloba extracts has been proven in many studies. However, some studies have also pointed out that long-term use of Ginkgo Biloba extract could not decrease cognitive decline resulting from Alzheimer’s disease. The effectiveness of Ginkgo biloba leaves extract on patients under 60 years of age has not been clearly established either [3].

Ginkgo Biloba History

There is some reference to Ginkgo cultivation in the ancient written records from China. These plants reached Europe in the latter half of the 18th century [4]. Unfortunately, they are now on the verge of extinction in the wilderness.

Presently, the Ginkgo plant is a part of various decorative spaces around the world as an ornamental tree. They are tough and insect-resistance trees that can live up to 1000 years.

The standardized Ginkgo extract is made from dried green leaves and is often available in concentrated forms. Combined with other supplements, Ginkgo Biloba is used as a treatment for dementia, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and other ailments.

Note, Ginkgo nuts or seeds contain ginkgotoxin (4-O-methoxypyridoxine) which is potentially toxic. The consumption of these nuts can lead to convulsions and even the loss of consciousness in some people.

Ginkgo Biloba Nootropics

Here is a quick look at some of the most popular Ginkgo Biloba supplements. You can also check the Mind Lab Pro review, Performance Lab Nootropics review, and NooCube review for other options.

Best Ginkgo Biloba Memory Supplements

Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind is a popular nootropic for memory and enhancing brain health. It contains multiple herbal extracts, vitamins, and caffeine, along with Ginkgo Biloba. 

The combination of these ingredients helps in the production of neurotransmitters and enhances memory and mental clarity. The brand claims that the product is designed by top scientists from the field of neurobiology and organic chemistry.

It enhances the generation of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and promotes neuron and synaptic functioning. Since it claims to reduce mental fatigue and stress, you feel less tired during the day.

Qualia Mind is generally free from side effects. However, it is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women and patients under 18 years of age. If you have any mental or physical ailments, consult your physician before consuming the product.

Pros

  • Improves brain function and helps in sustaining focus
  • Provides long-term cognitive health benefits
  • No major side effects for healthy individuals
  • The effect lasts for few hours

Cons

  • Expensive
  • There can be health effects for individuals sensitive to some of the components
  • The standard serving dose is seven pills in a day

BrainPill

BrainPill contains multiple high-impact ingredients that enhance overall cognitive function. It has 13 potent nootropics that are clinically tried and tested for developing cognitive function.

This supplement is designed for professionals who have to function at peak levels of intensity for hours. The ingredients can also boost blood circulation in the brain to boost attention, focus, and clarity. In addition, the components also increase the brain’s efficiency to process information and reduce anxiety. 

The recommended dosage is one capsule an hour before the intended activity. Being made from natural components, BrainPill has no side effects. It is also free from caffeine and any other form of stimulants. Keep in mind that the desired results from the supplement can be seen after 30 to 90 days of use.

Pros

  • Promotes higher concentration and critical thinking ability
  • No unwanted side effects
  • All components are clinically tested and proven
  • It comes without any “filler” or “trace” ingredients
  • Comes with a money-back warranty

Cons

  • Its performance isn’t backed by independent research
  • It can take time to see the results

Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba 

Some of the most important benefits of Ginkgo Biloba are:

  1. Improves anxiety and depression
  2. Reduces symptoms of psychiatric diseases
  3. Boosts brain function and memory
  4. Improves heart health and circulation
  5. Relieves premenstrual symptoms
  6. Improves vertigo
  7. Supports vision and eye health
  8. Fights inflammation
  9. May improve asthma and symptoms of COPD
  10. Contains powerful antioxidants

Improves Anxiety and Depression

Ginkgo Biloba has shown great results in reducing anxiety, stress and depression, particularly in patients suffering from anxiety under pathological conditions [6]. Ginkgo extract has shown abilities to modulate neurotransmission and regulate neuroendocrine secretions, which helps to improve depression and anxiety [5]

More clinical research is required to establish the efficacy of Ginkgo Biloba supplements for various conditions of anxiety.

best ginkgo biloba memory supplements Effectiveness of high and low doses of Ginkgo biloba at improving generalized anxiety disorder

Subjects taking high doses of Ginkgo biloba saw a 81% improvement whereas the low-dose group experienced a 67% improvement
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679686/

Reduces Symptoms of Psychiatric Diseases

Ginkgo Biloba extract can be a solution for aged patients with anxiety resulting from cognitive decline. It can also be combined with medication treatment for better results.

Ginkgo extract can also be used for treating depression and schizophrenia. In addition, it is effective for dealing with psychological changes related to menopause and ovariectomy [7].

Boosts Brain Function and Memory

Some studies suggest that Ginkgo Biloba can enhance brain function. The positive effects of Ginkgo extract include improved memory capacity, focus, and attention span. Some studies showed enhanced neuropsychological or memory processes in older adults [8].

However, studies have also shown that Ginkgo Biloba extract had no positive effects on cognitive functions [9]. Since the data is inconsistent, there are no guarantees that herbal supplements containing Ginkgo Biloba can enhance brain functioning.

Improves Heart Health and Circulation

Ginkgo extract can improve blood flow to the brain and provide protection from hypoxic damage as well as help in the reduction of nanoplaque formation [3]

Research also indicates that Ginkgo can help in boosting nitric oxide levels which play an important role in the dilation of blood vessels.

A few studies found that Ginkgo Biloba extract did not reduce blood pressure in elderly individuals [3]. As per some research, the Ginkgo Biloba extract improves calcium levels in epithelial cells. Since these cells line the blood vessels, this can help in the process of dilating the vessels [3].

Further research is required to point out the exact role of Ginkgo supplements to improve circulation.

Relieves Premenstrual Symptoms

There is some indication that taking Ginkgo Biloba can help with the physical and psychological symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). As per one study, a significant decrease in the severity of the symptoms was observed after the use of herbal supplements with Ginkgo Biloba.  

Additional research is needed to determine the safe dosage and the treatment durations with Ginkgo products.

Improves Vertigo

One clinical study indicated that Ginkgo leaves extract showed excellent results and better tolerability in healthy adults with vertigo [10]. More than 70% of the patients showed significant improvement after a 12-week long treatment period.

best ginkgo biloba memory supplements Efficacy of Ginkgo biloba Extract (EGb 761) as the treatment of vertigo

Patients taking Ginkgo biloba saw an almost 80% improvement in vertigo
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4099171/

The ability of Ginkgo Biloba in stimulating neurogenesis and improving neuronal plasticity is one reason for its positive action. The randomized trial also showed that Ginkgo has better safety and tolerability levels than betahistine, which is the commonly prescribed drug for treating vertigo.

Supports Vision and Eye Health

Although research is limited in this direction, there have been some positive outcomes. Some research has indicated the positive effect of Ginkgo Biloba on age-related macular degeneration.

Taking Ginkgo Biloba supplements can be effective in treating glaucoma due to the presence of antioxidants and Ginkgo’s capacity to improve ocular blood flow.

Fights Inflammation

Multiple researches have shown that Ginkgo can reduce the inflammatory response of the cells in both humans and animals. Herbal supplements with Ginkgo can reduce anti-inflammatory stress markers, making it effective for treating conditions like inflammatory bowel disease [11].

Studies have indicated that Ginkgo Biloba extract can prevent and cause remission in conditions like murine colitis. More human trials are required to verify the results.

May Improve Asthma and Symptoms of COPD

The presence of multiple anti-inflammatory compounds in Ginkgo can help in treating cases of airway inflammation. Whereas the antioxidants in Ginkgo Biloba can help in scavenging free radicals and help in improving overall pulmonary health.

Since asthma is related to the chronic inflammatory changes in the air pathways in the lungs, taking Ginkgo Biloba extract can help in reducing the symptoms. Therefore, it can act as a therapeutic reagent for treating the conditions [12].

Contains Powerful Antioxidants

One of the most important aspects of Ginkgo Biloba is the powerful antioxidants that it contains. Ginkgo Biloba is a free radical scavenger and helps in reducing age-related oxidative stress.

The main forms of antioxidants in Ginkgo are flavonoids. It contains various types of flavonoids like kaempferol, quercetin, isorhamnetin, trilactonicsesquiterpene, etc [14]. The positive effects of Ginkgo Biloba as an antioxidant have multiple benefits on various organs of the body [13].

Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects 

Ginkgo leaf extract is considered safe for healthy individuals with no serious side effects. In some cases, it can cause the following effects: 

  1. Stomach upset
  2. Constipation
  3. Headache
  4. Dizziness
  5. Allergic skin reactions
  6. Forceful heartbeat

As a precaution, Ginkgo consumption should be stopped two weeks before any elective surgery.

Precautions and Warnings 

Generally, poisoning from Ginkgo nuts is rare. Still, overconsumption of these nuts can lead to toxicity.

  • Ginkgo nuts or seeds contain ginkgotoxin (4-O-methoxypyridoxine) and cyanogenic glycosides, which are potentially toxic. 
  • The consumption of these nuts can lead to convulsions, dizziness, stomach aches, vomiting, and the loss of consciousness in some people. In rare cases, it can even result in death.
  • Handling the soft pulp around the seed can also cause allergic skin reactions or dermatitis similar to the effects of poison ivy.
  • In case you are allergic to poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, cashew shell oil, or mango rind, you can also be allergic to Ginkgo Biloba. This is due to the presence of long-chain alkylphenols in Gingo leaves.
  • In case you are planning to get pregnant, share your personal data with the healthcare provider before consuming Ginkgo Biloba. It can affect fertility in some cases.

Keep in mind, there is no antidote for Ginkgo poisoning. The treatment is by discontinuation of Ginkgo Biloba supplements and through appropriate symptom control.

What Medications Should Not Be Taken With Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo can affect the outcome of some prescription and non-prescription medications [15]. It is important to be cautious during use to avoid any interactions.

  • Since Ginkgo has blood-thinning properties, it should not be consumed with blood-thinners (anticoagulants). It can cause adverse reactions when consumed with drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, clopidogrel (Plavix), heparin, dipyridamole (Persantine), and ticlopidine.
  • Taking Ginkgo in high doses can affect anticonvulsant therapy. It can also interfere with medications used to control seizures.
  • Ginkgo can interfere with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antidepressants, and cause serotonin syndrome. The symptoms include shivering, muscle rigidity, fast heart rate, fever, and restlessness. It can also influence the effects of other antidepressant medications.
  • Ginkgo may play a role in lowering blood pressure and it can interfere with antihypertensive medications used to reduce blood pressure. It should be consumed under medical supervision if you are consuming thiazide diuretics.
  • Ginkgo extract can lower blood sugar levels in some patients. Patients using insulin or other blood sugar-lowering drugs should consume Ginkgo under medical supervision only.
  • Ginkgo can affect the rate at which some medications are broken down by the liver, which can change the effects of that medication.

How To Take Ginkgo Biloba 

Ginkgo can be taken in various forms. The most common form is consumption as a herbal supplement in the form of a capsule.

Here are some of the commonly available forms of Ginkgo Biloba

  • Capsules
  • Tablets or pills
  • Liquid extracts
  • Dried leaf in the form of a drink

Dosages

Generally, the EGb 761 format of Ginkgo extract is used for standard studies. The standardized version contains 6% terpenoids and 24% flavonoid glycosides [15]. For medical studies, the oral dosage of EGb 761 is 40 mg three times a day. A dosage of 80 mg taken twice daily is also recommended at times.

Other than that, the following dosages are recommended:

  • When used as a cognitive enhancer, the daily dosage of Ginkgo can vary between 120 to 240 mg in a day
  • For the treatment of vertigo, the dose is 80 mg, taken twice daily.
  • For treating dementia and preventing cognitive decline in older adults, the recommended dosage is 120 to 240 mg in a day.

How Much Ginkgo Biloba Should I Take for Memory?

Although Ginkgo is safe and well-tolerated, the daily intake should not be higher than 240 mg [15].

FAQ 

We take a quick look at some of the common queries related to Ginkgo Biloba.

What Is Ginkgo Biloba Used for Medically?

The present-day medical use includes treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, tinnitus of vascular origin, and peripheral claudication.

It is also used for improving cognitive function, memory, and cardiovascular functioning. Note, the use of any nootropics for motivation or improving brain function is not regulated by the FDA.

Is Ginkgo Biloba Safe To Take Daily?

Yes, Ginkgo is safe for daily consumption. The recommended dosage is 240 mg per day. Since it can interact with other medications, you need to consult your physician before consumption. Also, Ginkgo seeds can have poisonous effects on some individuals and are not recommended for consumption. 

Can Ginkgo Cause Stroke?

There is no evidence of such effects. But research has indicated that Ginkgo Biloba can act as blood thinners and help in keeping the arteries in healthy shape and promote cardiovascular health. It can also help in neurological recovery in patients who have suffered an acute ischaemic stroke.

Does Ginkgo Improve Memory?

At present, there's no conclusive scientific evidence to show that Ginkgo Biloba improves memory or can improve cognitive function. However, some research has indicated that it can slow down the process of memory loss associated with age. Further human studies are required for pointing out the exact benefits.

Does Ginkgo Boost Dopamine?

Some research has suggested that Gingko can prevent a decrease in dopamine levels. Still, there is not enough evidence to suggest that Ginkgo Biloba can effectively boost dopamine levels. 

Conclusion

Ginkgo Biloba is a remarkable tree that can offer a diverse range of health benefits. With more research, it will be possible to determine the exact benefits and efficacy of Gingko extract. We suggest you consult with your healthcare provider to find the best Ginkgo Biloba supplements for any specific medical condition.

References

  1. Xie H;Wang JR;Yau LF;Liu Y;Liu L;Han QB;Zhao Z;Jiang ZH; “Quantitative Analysis of the Flavonoid Glycosides and Terpene Trilactones in the Extract of Ginkgo Biloba and Evaluation of Their Inhibitory Activity towards Fibril Formation of β-Amyloid Peptide.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24727418/. 
  2. P;, van Beek TA;Montoro. “Chemical Analysis and Quality Control of Ginkgo Biloba Leaves, Extracts, and Phytopharmaceuticals.” Journal of Chromatography. A, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19195661/. 
  3. Zuo, Wei, et al. “Advances in the Studies of Ginkgo Biloba Leaves Extract on Aging-Related Diseases.” Aging and Disease, JKL International LLC, 1 Dec. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758353/.
  4. Roger Cohn • May 1, et al. “The Life Story of the Oldest Tree on Earth.” Yale E360, e360.yale.edu/features/peter_crane_history_of_ginkgo_earths_oldest_tree. 
  5. P;, Montes P;Ruiz-Sanchez E;Rojas C;Rojas. “Ginkgo Biloba Extract 761: A Review of Basic Studies and Potential Clinical Use in Psychiatric Disorders.” CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25642989/. 
  6. V;, Singh SK;Barreto GE;Aliev G;Echeverria. “Ginkgo Biloba as an Alternative Medicine in the Treatment of Anxiety in Dementia and Other Psychiatric Disorders.” Current Drug Metabolism, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27908257/. 
  7. Banin, Renata Mancini, et al. “Ginkgo Biloba Extract (GBE) ATTENUATES Obesity and Anxious/Depressive-like Behaviours Induced BY OVARIECTOMY.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 8 Jan. 2021, www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78528-3. 
  8. WD;, Mix JA;Crews. “A Double-Blind, PLACEBO-CONTROLLED, Randomized Trial of Ginkgo BILOBA EXTRACT EGB 761 in a Sample of Cognitively Intact OLDER Adults: NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL Findings.” Human Psychopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12404671/. 
  9. TK;, Laws KR;Sweetnam H;Kondel. “Is Ginkgo Biloba a Cognitive Enhancer in Healthy Individuals? A Meta-Analysis.” Human Psychopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23001963/. 
  10. Sokolova, Larysa, et al. “Treatment of Vertigo: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial Comparing Efficacy and Safety of Ginkgo Biloba Extract EGB 761 and Betahistine.” International Journal of Otolaryngology, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4099171/. 
  11. Kotakadi, Venkata S., et al. “Ginkgo Biloba EXTRACT EGB 761 Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties and Ameliorates Colitis in Mice by Driving Effector T Cell Apoptosis.” Carcinogenesis, U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2527648/. 
  12. Chu, Xiao, et al. “A Novel Anti-Inflammatory Role FOR Ginkgolide B in Asthma via Inhibition of THE ERK/MAPK Signaling Pathway.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), MDPI, 6 Sept. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6264276/. 
  13. Droy-Lefaix, M T. “Effect of the Antioxidant Action of Ginkgo BILOBA Extract (Egb 761) on Aging and Oxidative Stress.” Age, Kluwer Academic Publishers, July 1997, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3455891/. 
  14. Singh, Sandeep Kumar, et al. “Neuroprotective and Antioxidant Effect of Ginkgo Biloba Extract against Ad and Other Neurological Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics : the Journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Springer International Publishing, July 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6694352/. 
  15. Nguyen, Tran. “Ginkgo Biloba.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 9 July 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541024/. 
  16. Williams B;Watanabe CM;Schultz PG;Rimbach G;Krucker T; “Age-Related Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Extract on Synaptic Plasticity and Excitability.” Neurobiology of Aging, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15212849/. 
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