Ginkgo - Ginkgo Biloba

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This Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) monograph is an excerpt from the first edition of Dr. Sharol's book "Herbal Medicine From The Heart of The Earth." You can purchase the 2020, third edition of this book with an expanded materia medica/monograph section, herbal formulas and directions on making herbal products in Dr. Sharol's Book Store. You receive free shipping in the USA. The expanded 3rd edition materia medica, and additional herbal tidbits are also available as a kindle ebook at Amazon and details on this e-book are here.

Ginkgo - Ginkgo biloba in the Ginkgoaceae or Ginkgo family

Parts used: Leaf.

Taste/smell: Slightly sour taste.

Dosage: Infusion: 1 tablespoon per cup of water; or 1:1 fresh + dry strength liquid extract: 20-60 drops 1-4 times per day.

Mental picture and specific indications: Ginkgo is indicated when the individual has debilitated peripheral circulation to the limbs and head because it increases circulation to all peripheral parts of the body.

Use: (a) Increases blood flow peripherally to the limbs and brain, (b) Decreases the time it takes for re-innervation of muscles following traumatic nerve damage, (c) Antioxidant, (d) Anti-inflammatory, (e) Antithrombotic (f) Antiatherosclerotic, (g) Antagonist to platelet activating factor.

Clinically, Ginkgo is used for cerebral vascular insufficiency and impaired mental performance. It has the ability to increase blood flow to the brain, especially in the elderly, decrease platelet aggregation and  prevent strokes and other diseases related to emboli.  It has been successfully used for migraines due to its ability to stabilize platelets and serotonin levels in the brain, thereby normalizing blood flow. Ginkgo has shown to be beneficial in cases of senile dementia, depression in the elderly and may delay mental deterioration in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  It enhances memory. Ginkgo is used for treating tinnitus, vertigo and cochlear deafness. It is also used for diabetic retinopathy, retinal insufficiency, macular degeneration, cataracts, intermittent claudication, Raynauds disease, diabetic skin lesions, varicose veins, generalized peripheral arteriopathy, and erectile dysfunction related to poor peripheral blood flow in elderly men. Ginkgo may be beneficial in the repair of the cavernous nerve and recovery of erectile function after radical prostatectomy. Research with rats has shown administration of ginkgo increases neuron survival and preserves the neural nitric oxide synthase and contents of the corpus cavernosum after bilateral cavernous nerve injury.

Ginkgo is protective to the kidney in both acute and chronic kidney damage. It also protects transplanted kidneys from cyclosporine damage (Cyclosporine is used as an immune depressant to decrease the chance of rejection of the transplanted organ.) and ischemia-reperfusion injury that occurs immediately after transplantation.

Ginkgo is currently being studied as an antagonist to platelet activating factor. This possibility could decrease rejection in both heart and kidney transplants and also protect the kidney transplant against cyclosporine damage.  The platelet activating factor antagonist action has also proven useful in sepsis syndrome and bronchial asthma. An additional use for ginkgo may be protection against radiation-induced injuries as shown in the use of ginkgo following the Chernobyl disaster. Another interesting use for ginkgo is in the prevention of altitude sickness.  It decreases the occurrence and severity of altitude sickness as well as prevents cold-related vascular problems associated with the weather at high altitude.

Contraindications: Ginkgo may cause gastrointestinal upset, headaches and increased bleeding time, including lengthening the menstruation cycle, increasing menstrual flow, inducing breakthrough bleeding or increasing wound bleeding time. Bleeding time will return to normal 10-12 days after discontinuing the herb. Contraindicated in hemophilia. Ginkgolide B may also prevent ovulation through its activity as a PAF antagonist and may create anovulatory menstrual cycles. Note: PAF is secreted by the ovary to allow release of the egg. Please also note that the seed although eaten as a food contains 4-O-methylypyridoxine (Ginkgo toxin) which appears to interfere with the body’s use of pyridoxal 5-phosphate (active B6), thereby decreasing gamma-aminobutyric acid.  This can cause serious negative health effects including convulsions which are treatable with pyridoxal 5-phosphate. The raw leaves have been known to cause headaches and the raw standardized product may also cause headaches depending on how it is processed. The European standardized herbs are processed in a manner that is less likely to cause headaches.

If you are looking for directions on making teas or tinctures, please see our "Making Herbal Products" page.

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Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.

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