Ginkgo biloba is a herb extract that has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine, and has become popular as a supplement in the West due to its antioxidant properties.

What are its health benefits?

Ginkgo biloba has shown to improve blood flow to the brain and has been used for certain memory-related disorders, especially in older people.

According to literature, a ginkgo biloba supplement may have the following benefits:

  • Asssits with the management of concentration and memory problems caused by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It may help to slow down the progression of dementia symptoms, especially if the cause is related to vascular disease. Ginkgo biloba does not, however, prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • Provides symptomatic relief of pains in the legs associated with vascular disease.
  • Assisting with symptomatic relief associated with conditions related to blood circulation.
  • Assisting with symptomatic relief associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as breast tenderness.
  • Supports memory and cognition in healthy individuals.
  • Assisting with symptomatic relief associated with Raynaud’s syndrome, which produces symptoms of pain in response to cold.
  • Assisting with symptomatic relief associated with anxiety (this is attributed to a specific type of extract).
  • Aids in the improvement of colour vision in individuals whose retinas have been damaged due to diabetes, as well as improving existing visual-field damage in glaucoma sufferers.
  • Assisting with symptomatic relief associated with schizophrenia when taken with conventional antipsychotic medication. It may possibly even reduce adverse side effects of certain antipsychotic medications.

Do you have a deficiency?

Ginkgo biloba is not produced naturally by the body, however, it can be beneficial to anyone who suspects they may have poor blood circulation, and who wishes to benefit from its antioxidant properties.

Find it in these sources

Ginkgo biloba extract is best taken in supplement form (capsules), available from your Clicks pharmacy.

Note: It is advised that you check on the label that it contains standardised ginkgo biloba leaf extract.

Recommended daily allowance (RDA)

The RDA will vary according to the particular condition it is being used for, and taking it should always be discussed with your Clicks pharmacist.

A standard daily dose is anything from 40 to 120mg of ginkgo extract (known as GBE), but may be higher when prescribed for Alzheimer’s patients.

Warnings

Ginkgo biloba supplementation should be avoided in the following cases:

  • When pregnant or breastfeeding
  • If you’ve ever suffered from seizures (epilepsy)
  • If you have a bleeding disorder
  • If you’re scheduled to have surgery (cease usage two weeks prior)
  • If you’re taking medication for HIV infection

Extreme caution should be taken concerning ginkgo biloba fruit pulp and seeds, as these may cause severe skin allergies and symptoms of poisoning respectively. (Fresh ginkgo seeds are extremely dangerous.)

Please note that ginkgo seeds should never be given to infants or children, and the extract should be used with extreme caution and only ever in the short term.

Ginkgo may also interfere with fertility and diabetes management. It may also reduce the efficacy of other drugs, so it’s important to discuss any medication you’re on with your doctor and Clicks pharmacist first.

Possible side effects

Possible side effects could include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Allergic dermatitis similar to poison ivy (if contact is made with fresh fruit pulp)
  • Weakness in the body or vision impairment (rare)
  • Swelling in the throat (rare)
  • Breathing problems (rare)

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

This medicine has not been evaluated by the Medicines Control Council. This medicine is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in September 2015