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Ginkgo Biloba

What is Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo Biloba is one of the oldest tree species in the world. Ginkgo biloba leaf extract is usually used for treatment purpose. Traditionally, ginkgo is used as a supplement to help improve blood flow and memory.

How Ginkgo Acts in the Body?

Scientist had found 40 components in ginkgo but only two of them, flavanoids and terpenoids are believed to act as medicine. Flavanoids is an antioxidant found in plants and research on animal shows that flavanoids able to protect nerves, heart muscles, blood vessels and eye retina from damage. Terpenoids act by improving blood circulation by widening the blood vessels and reducing platelet stickiness.

What is the Use of Ginkgo In Treatment

A lot of scientific research has been done on ginkgo biloba to identify its function from medical aspect. Some of the example of ginkgo use is as below :

  1. Cognitive Function (improve thinking and memory)

    Ginkgo is usually known as brain herb. There were evidences related to improvement in memory loss in dementia patients. However, those effects cannot be seen in healthy individuals with age-related memory loss.

  2. Raynaud’s Syndrome (pain due to cold especially in fingers and toes)

    Research shows that symptoms decreases after 10 weeks of taking ginkgo as compared to patients who haven’t been taking any ginkgo.

  3. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

    Ginkgo can reduce symptoms related to PMS.

  4. Glaucoma

    Research shows that by taking 120mg of Ginkgo for 8 weeks can improve the vision of glaucoma patients.

  5. Leg pain when walking due to poor blood flow

    Research shows that patients presenting with this problem were able to walk further without feeling pain when taking ginkgo.

  6. Vertigo (imbalance) and dizziness

    Ginkgo may reduce symptoms due to dizziness and balance disorders.

  7. Improve colour vision in diabetes patients

    Research shows that by taking ginkgo extract for 6 months can improve colour vision in patients with damaged retina due to diabetes.

How To Take Ginkgo?

  1. Get advice from doctors or pharmacists for information on the correct dose.
  2. The effect of ginkgo can be observed after 4-6 weeks of consumption.
  3. Dose to be taken varies according to product formulation. It is advisable to start with a lower dose to prevent stomach discomfort.
  4. Consumption of unprocessed ginkgo plant should be avoided.

Is Ginkgo Consumption Safe?

It is usually safe when you consume the correct dose of ginkgo extract. However, you might experience some minimal side effects as listed below :

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Stomach pain
  • Skin allergy
  • Easy bleeding/bruising

*Note: Get advice from doctors/pharmacists if the side effects listed above prolongs.

Does Ginkgo Interact With Other Medicines or Herbs?

Ginkgo biloba has a lot of interactions with other medicines or herbs. Ginkgo consumption can elevate or reduce the effect of other medicines or herbs. Therefore, you should get advice from doctors/pharmacists before taking ginkgo biloba.

Examples of medicines/herbs which interacts with ginkgo biloba are :

  • Medicine for epilepsy – example : Carbamazepine, Gabapentin, Phenytoin
  • Pain killer, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) – example : Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Piroxicam
  • Medicine to reduce blood clotting – example : Warfarin, Aspirin, Heparin
  • Anti platelet – example : Clopidogrel, Ticlopidine
  • Anti depressant – example : Amitriptylline
  • Herbs – example : St. John’s wort, cedar leaf, folic acid, melatonin, Panax ginseng

Things You Need To Know If You’re Going To Take Ginkgo Biloba Preparation

  1. Ginkgo is NOT SAFE for use in pregnant women or breastfeeding women.
  2. Ginkgo seed cannot be consumed by children.
  3. You need to inform doctors or pharmacists your current medication before starting on ginkgo biloba especially if you’re taking medication on epilepsy, diabetes or bleeding problems.
  4. Inform doctor of pharmacist if you’re taking ginkgo and will be undergoing surgery.


  1. National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau website (www.bpfk.gov.my)
  2. MIMS Malaysia. Ginkgo Biloba – Drug Information. Retrieved 23.10.13, from http://www.mims.com/Malaysia/drug/info/ginkgo biloba
  3. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved 10.10.13, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/ginkgo-biloba
  4. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Retrieved 10.10.13, from http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search. aspx?cs=&s=ND &pt=100&sh=1&id=333
  5. Medline Plus. Retrieved 07.10.13, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/333.html
  6. MedicineNet.com Retrieved 07.10.13, from http://www.medicinenet.com/ginkgo_ginkgo_biloba-oral/article.htm
Last Reviewed : 11 August 2014
Writer/Translator: : Nur Izyani bt. Hanafi
Accreditor: : Noraini bt. Mohamad