Ginkgo Biloba for Memory and Cognition

Ginkgo Biloba for Memory and Cognition

Of all the wonderful plants and herbs that have cognition-enhancing and mood-boosting properties, few of them are more popular than ginkgo biloba. It’s been around for centuries and has a long history of being used to treat memory problems, blood disorders, and other illnesses. In recent years, ginkgo biloba has been used for its nootropic, cognition-boosting, and memory-enhancing effects.

Ginkgo biloba, often simply referred to as “ginkgo,” is the most commonly used supplement for brain health. It’s been used for thousands of years all over the world to treat a number of conditions. The scientific community has taken an interest in ginkgo and recent studies have started to shed some light onto how this fascinating herb works.

We’ll look at the benefits, potential side effects, dosage, and where to buy ginkgo biloba shortly. First, lets examine what exactly ginkgo is.

What is Ginkgo Biloba?

Ginkgo biloba, often simply referred to as ginkgo (sometimes spelled ‘gingko’) and also known as the maidenhair tree, is one of the oldest species of trees on the planet. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine and has been used for its health benefits by many other cultures.

Some of the conditions that ginkgo has been used for include dementia, anxiety, glaucoma, macular degeneration, premenstrual syndrome, intermittent claudication, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, altitude sickness, tinnitus, and peripheral artery disease. As more and more scientific studies are done on ginkgo, its effectiveness at treating some of these conditions is being rigorously explored.

In recent years, ginkgo biloba extract has been consumed for its nootropic benefits. Users report improved memory, reduced anxiety, increased reaction time, improved blood flow, and general cognitive enhancement, among other benefits. Let’s take a detailed look at some of these benefits and the science to support them.

Ginkgo Biloba Benefits

Ginkgo users have reported a variety of cognitive and physical benefits. Some of these benefits are backed by scientific studies, while others are not. Here are some of the ginkgo biloba benefits that have been studied.

A ginkgo tree

Improved Memory – This is one of the most common reasons that people use ginkgo. But is the claim that ginkgo biloba can improve memory backed by science? The answer is a resounding yes! There have been several studies that have proven ginkgo to be a powerful memory enhancer.

In one study, researchers gave healthy adults 240 mg of a ginkgo extract daily for six weeks. After taking the ginkgo extract, the participants were able to remember more things and remember things clearer.

In another study, researchers looked at what effects ginkgo had after just a single dose. They gave some participants only the ginkgo biloba extract, others only a ginseng extract, some received both, and others a placebo. The participants in the ginkgo, ginseng, and ginkgo/ginseng groups showed improvements in memory performance, in addition to improved math performance. The participants in the ginkgo only group also showed an improvement in mood.

These are just two examples, but there are at least a dozen other studies that also demonstrate ginkgo biloba’s ability to improve memory. This may be ginkgo’s most well-known benefit, but there are several others.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety – Users typically don’t use ginkgo for its anxiety-reducing effects, but it can be a nice additional benefit. Some people who supplement with ginkgo extract report reduced anxiety and stress, which has been noticed in a couple different studies.

In one study, participants with anxiety were given either 480 mg of ginkgo extract, 240 mg, or a placebo for four weeks. Their anxiety levels were checked throughout the study and those who received the high dose of ginkgo showed the greatest improvement. The low dose group also improved, but not by quite as much. And while there was improvement in the placebo group, it was significantly less than in the groups receiving the ginkgo biloba extract.

In another study of healthy volunteers, the effects of ginkgo on stress were examined. A single dose of 120 mg of ginkgo biloba extract was shown to improve acute stress reaction, by preventing blood pressure and cortisol levels from rising.

Slowed Cognitive Decline – There have been well over a dozen scientific studies that have examined the effect that ginkgo has on slowing cognitive decline in the elderly and the results have all been very positive.

One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (the standard for studying medicine) took patients with Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia and gave them either a ginkgo extract or a placebo for 22 weeks. After that time, the participants were assessed using several different tests. Those in the ginkgo group showed significant improvements in cognition. The study also noted that the participants in the ginkgo group had no more side effects than the placebo group.

These are just three ginkgo biloba benefits that have been studied. It may also be useful for glaucoma, intermittent claudication, macular degeneration, and other conditions. Now, let’s look at some possible side effects.

Potential Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects

Ginkgo leaves

Ginkgo is generally very well-tolerated. Most people who take it do not experience any side effects. However, side effects from ginkgo biloba are possible, just like with anything you put in your body.

Some of the most common side effects include upset stomach, headache, dizziness, and skin reactions. These side effects are usually mild and go away shortly after discontinuing ginkgo.

Ginkgo may increase the risk for internal bleeding. There have been reports of ginkgo and internal bleeding, but it’s not clear what role it played, if any. If you are taking “blood thinners” like Coumadin (warfarin sodium), Eliquis (apixaban), Pradaxa (dabigatran), or others, you may want to use extra caution when using ginkgo. However, ginkgo has been shown to have no effect on INR (International Normalized Ratio) in people taking warfarin.

If you are taking prescription antidepressants, especially MAOIs, it is especially important that you talk to you doctor before taking ginkgo. If you have seizures, ginkgo may not be right for you, as it may make you more likely to have one. And lastly, you should not take ginkgo if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant.

How To Take Ginkgo Biloba

There are no official guidelines for taking ginkgo biloba. However, between clinical studies and anecdotal reports, we can look at what seems to work for most people.

Studies have used dosages from 120 milligrams (mg) a day and up. In the studies that compared the effectiveness of more than one dosage, the higher dosage usually showed greater results. A lot of users report the best results from a dosage of around 500 mg per day, either once a day or divided into two doses. However, many people notice the benefits of ginkgo biloba with as little as 120 mg a day.

Ginkgo extract can be taken with or without food. It may be slightly more effective if taken on an empty stomach. However, this can cause upset stomach in some people. If this happens to you, try taking ginkgo with a small meal. Most users like to take it early in the day.

As with all supplements, you should probably consult your doctor before taking ginkgo biloba. Though side effects are rare and usually mild, it’s always a good idea to talk with a licensed physician before taking anything new.

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