Ginkgo is a large tree with fan-shaped leaves. Although Ginkgo is native parts of Asia, including China, Japan, and Korea, it has been grown in Europe since around 1730 and in the United States since around 1784.
Ginkgo leaf is often taken by mouth for memory disorders including Alzheimer's disease. It is also used for conditions that seem to be due to reduced blood flow in the brain, especially in older people. These conditions include memory loss, headache, ringing in the ears, vertigo, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and hearing disorders. Some people use it for other problems related to poor blood flow in the body, including leg pain when walking (claudication), and Raynaud's syndrome (a painful response to cold, especially in the fingers and toes).
Ginkgo leaf is also used for thinking disorders related to Lyme disease, chemotherapy, and depression.
Some people use ginkgo to treat sexual performance problems. It is sometimes used to reverse the sexual performance problems that can accompany taking certain antidepressants called SSRIs.
Ginkgo been used for eye problems including glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, heart disease and heart complications, high cholesterol, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and bloody diarrhea. Ginkgo leaf is also taken by mouth for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), schizophrenia, and to prevent winter depression, preventing mountain sickness and aging, controlling stomach acid, improving liver and gallbladder function, and controlling blood pressure. It is also taken by mouth to treat asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and for disorders of the central nervous system.
The list of other uses of ginkgo is very long. This may be because this herb has been around for so long. Ginkgo biloba is one of the longest living tree species in the world. Ginkgo trees can live as long as a thousand years. Using ginkgo for asthma and bronchitis was described in 2600 BC.
In manufacturing, ginkgo leaf extract is used in cosmetics. In foods, roasted ginkgo seed, which has the pulp removed, is an edible delicacy in Japan and China.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for GINKGO are as follows:
More evidence is needed to rate ginkgo seeds for these uses.
Ginkgo seems to improve blood circulation, which might help the brain, eyes, ears, and legs function better. It may slow down Alzheimer's disease by interfering with changes in the brain that interfere with thinking.
Ginkgo seeds contain substances that might kill the bacteria and fungi that cause infections in the body. The seeds also contain a toxin that can cause side effects like seizure and loss of consciousness.
Ginkgo LEAF EXTRACT is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in appropriate doses. It can cause some minor side effects such as stomach upset, headache, dizziness, constipation, forceful heartbeat, and allergic skin reactions.
There is some concern that ginkgo leaf extract might increase the risk of liver and thyroid cancers. However, this has only occurred in animals given extremely high doses of ginkgo. There is not enough information to know if it could happen in humans.
Ginkgo fruit and pulp can cause severe allergic skin reactions and irritation of mucous membranes. Ginkgo might cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, mango rind, or cashew shell oil.
There is some concern that ginkgo leaf extract might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Ginkgo thins the blood and decreases its ability to form clots. A few people taking ginkgo have had bleeding into the eye and into the brain, and excessive bleeding following surgery. Ginkgo leaf extract can cause allergic skin reactions in some people.
Ginkgo LEAF EXTRACT is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used intravenously (by IV), short-term. It has been used safely for up to 10 days.
The ROASTED SEED or CRUDE GINKGO PLANT is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth. Eating more than 10 roasted seeds per day can cause difficulty breathing, weak pulse, seizures, loss of consciousness, and shock. The FRESH SEED is even more dangerous. Fresh seeds are poisonous and are LIKELY UNSAFE. Eating fresh ginkgo seeds could cause seizures and death.
There isn't enough reliable information available to know if ginkgo is safe when applied to the skin.
Not enough is known about the safety of ginkgo when applied to the skin to determine if it is safe.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Ginkgo is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. It might cause early labor or extra bleeding during delivery if used near that time. Not enough is known about the safety of using ginkgo during breast-feeding. Do not use ginkgo if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Infants and children: Ginkgo leaf extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for a short time. Some research suggests that a specific combination of ginkgo leaf extract plus American ginseng might be safe in children when used short-term. Do not let children eat the ginkgo seed. It is LIKELY UNSAFE.
Bleeding disorders: Ginkgo might make bleeding disorders worse. If you have a bleeding disorder, don't use ginkgo.
Diabetes: Ginkgo might interfere with the management of diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar closely.
Seizures: There is a concern that ginkgo might cause seizures. If you have ever had a seizure, don’t use ginkgo.
Deficiency of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD): Ginkgo might cause severe anemia in people have G6PD enzyme deficiency. Until more is known, use cautiously or avoid using ginkgo if you have G6PD deficiency.
Infertility: Ginkgo use might interfere with getting pregnant. Discuss your use of ginkgo with your healthcare provider if you are trying to get pregnant.
Surgery: Ginkgo might slow blood clotting. It might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using ginkgo at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.
Taking ginkgo along with alprazolam might decrease the effects of alprazolam in some people.
The body breaks down atorvastatin to get rid of it. Ginkgo might increase how quickly the body gets rid of atorvastatin. However, it's not clear if this is a big concern. Ginkgo does not appear to influence the effects of atorvastatin on cholesterol levels. Until more is known, use cautiously.
Ginkgo seems to affect the brain. Buspirone (BuSpar) also affects the brain. One person felt hyper and overexcited when taking ginkgo, buspirone (BuSpar), and other medications. It is unclear if this interaction was caused by ginkgo or the other medications.
Interaction Rating = Major Do not take this combination.
Efavirenz (Sustiva) is used to treat HIV infection. Taking efavirenz (Sustiva) along with ginkgo extract might decrease the effects of efavirenz (Sustiva). Before taking ginkgo, talk to your healthcare provider if you take medications for HIV.
Taking ginkgo along with buspirone (BuSpar), St. John's wort, melatonin, and fluoxetine (Prozac) might cause you to feel irritated, nervous, jittery, and excited. This is called hypomania. It's not known if this is a concern when just ginkgo is taken with fluoxetine (Prozac).
Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.
Hydrochlorothiazide is used to help decrease swelling and control blood pressure. Taking hydrochlorothiazide along with ginkgo might increase blood pressure. Before taking ginkgo, talk to your healthcare provider if you take medications for high blood pressure.
Ginkgo might slow blood clotting. Ibuprofen can also slow blood clotting. Taking ginkgo with ibuprofen might slow blood clotting too much and increase the chance of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking ginkgo along with some medications that are changed by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking ginkgo, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include clozapine (Clozaril), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), fluvoxamine (Luvox), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), mexiletine (Mexitil), olanzapine (Zyprexa), pentazocine (Talwin), propranolol (Inderal), tacrine (Cognex), theophylline, zileuton (Zyflo), zolmitriptan (Zomig), and others.
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking ginkgo with these medications might decrease how well the medication works. Before taking ginkgo, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), carisoprodol (Soma), citalopram (Celexa), diazepam (Valium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), phenytoin (Dilantin), warfarin (Coumadin), and many others.
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking ginkgo along with these medications that are changed by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of your medication. Before taking ginkgo, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), diazepam (Valium), zileuton (Zyflo), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking ginkgo along with some medications that are changed by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of your medication. Before taking ginkgo, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), clozapine (Clozaril), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), donepezil (Aricept), fentanyl (Duragesic), flecainide (Tambocor), fluoxetine (Prozac), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), olanzapine (Zyprexa), ondansetron (Zofran), tramadol (Ultram), trazodone (Desyrel), and others.
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might affect how quickly the liver breaks down some medications, and lead to a variety of effects and side effects. Before taking ginkgo, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), diltiazem (Cardizem), estrogens, indinavir (Crixivan), triazolam (Halcion), and others.
Ginkgo might decrease a brain chemical called serotonin. Some medications for depression increase serotonin. Taking ginkgo along with these medications for depression might decrease their effectiveness.
Some of these medications for depression include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), and others; and tricyclic and atypical antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil), and others.
Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar. Ginkgo might increase or decrease insulin and blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Taking ginkgo along with diabetes medications might decrease how well your medication works. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Some medications increase the chance of having a seizure. Taking ginkgo might cause seizures in some people. If this combination is taken, it might greatly increase the chance of having a seizure. Do not take ginkgo with medications that increase the chance of having a seizure.
Some medications that increase the chance of having a seizure include anesthesia (propofol, others), antiarrhythmics (mexiletine), antibiotics (amphotericin, penicillin, cephalosporins, imipenem), antidepressants (bupropion, others), antihistamines (cyproheptadine, others), immunosuppressants (cyclosporine), narcotics (fentanyl, others), stimulants (methylphenidate), theophylline, and others.
Ginkgo might slow blood clotting. Taking ginkgo along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, indomethacin (Indocin), ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Medications used to prevent seizures affect chemicals in the brain. Ginkgo can also affect chemicals in the brain in a way that might possibly decrease the effectiveness of medications used to prevent seizures.
Some medications used to prevent seizures include phenobarbital, primidone (Mysoline), valproic acid (Depakene), gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), and others.
Taking both ginkgo and nifedipine by mouth might increase nifedipine levels in the body. This might cause increased side effects, including headaches, dizziness, and hot flushes. However, taking nifedipine intravenously (by IV) while taking ginkgo by mouth does not seem to have the same effect.
Omeprazole (Prilosec) is changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might increase how fast the liver breaks down omeprazole (Prilosec). Taking ginkgo with omeprazole (Prilosec) might decrease how well omeprazole (Prilosec) works.
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Ginkgo might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications, including risperidone, which might increase the risk of side effects. Before taking ginkgo, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking risperidone.
The body breaks down simvastatin (Zocor) to get rid of it. Ginkgo might increase how quickly the body gets rid of simvastatin (Zocor). However, it's not clear if this is a big concern as it does not appear to reduce the drug's effect on cholesterol levels. Until more is known, use cautiously.
Taking ginkgo leaf extract multiple times per day might increase levels of talinolol. In theory, this might increase the effects and side effects of talinolol. However, taking a single dose of ginkgo does not seem to affect talinolol levels.
Trazodone (Desyrel) affects chemicals in the brain. Ginkgo can also affect chemicals in the brain. Taking trazodone (Desyrel) along with ginkgo might cause serious side effects in the brain. One person taking trazodone and ginkgo went into a coma. Do not take ginkgo if you are taking trazodone (Desyrel).
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Ginkgo might also slow blood clotting. Taking ginkgo along with warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
Ginkgo seeds contain a chemical that can cause seizures in high doses. People who are already taking supplements that may increase seizure risk might be at greater risk if they take ginkgo, too. Seizures after using ginkgo leaf have been reported in people with no history of seizure as well as in people with well- controlled epilepsy.
It's best to avoid taking ginkgo with herbs and supplements that can increase the risk of seizure. These herbs and supplements include: butanediol (BD), cedar leaf, Chinese club moss, EDTA, folic acid, gamma butyrolactone (GBL), gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), glutamine, huperzine A, hydrazine sulfate, hyssop oil, juniper, L-carnitine, melatonin, rosemary, sage, wormwood, and others.
Using herbs and supplements that slow blood clotting along with ginkgo could increase the risk of bleeding in some people. This is because ginkgo might slow blood clotting. Some other herbs of this type include angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, Panax ginseng, and others.
Ginkgo, in combination with buspirone (BuSpar), fluoxetine (Prozac), melatonin, and St. John's wort might cause manic symptoms in people with depression. No one knows whether ginkgo alone, or in combination with St. John's wort, can cause these symptoms.
There are no known interactions with foods.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
For all uses, start at a lower dose of not more than 120 mg per day to avoid gastrointestinal (GI) side effects. Increase to higher doses indicated as needed. Dosing may vary depending on the specific formulation used. Most researchers used specific standardized Ginkgo biloba leaf extracts. Some people take 0.5 mL of a standard 1:5 tincture of the crude ginkgo leaf three times daily.
You should avoid crude ginkgo plant parts. These can contain dangerous levels of the toxic chemicals found in the seed of the plant and elsewhere. These chemicals can cause severe allergic reactions.
Abricot Argenté Japonais, Adiantifolia, Arbre aux Écus, Arbre aux Quarante Écus, Arbre du Ciel, Arbre Fossile, Bai Guo Ye, Baiguo, Extrait de Feuille de Ginkgo, Extrait de Ginkgo, Fossil Tree, Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf, Ginkgo Extract, Ginkgo Folium, Ginkgo Leaf Extact, Ginkgo Seed, Graine de Ginkgo, Herba Ginkgo Biloba, Japanese Silver Apricot, Kew Tree, Maidenhair Tree, Noyer du Japon, Pei Go Su Ye, Salisburia Adiantifolia, Yen Xing, Yinhsing.
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