Ginkgo: The Brain Booster

Discusses the health benefits of ginkgo biloba. Anti-aging properties; Information on where researchers attribute ginkgo's effects; Recommended dosage.

By PT Staff, published March 1, 1999 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

The fan-shaped leaves of the ginkgo biloba, one of the world's oldest trees,have been a mainstay of Chinese herbalist practice for millennia, used for everything from asthma to tuberculosis. Ginkgo's popularity is worldwide today. The main attraction: its anti-aging properties. Studies indicate that ginkgo can help improve memory, concentration and mood.

In 1997, the first U.S.-trial, conducted at several centers across the country, showed that ginkgo biloba extract stabilized the condition of patients with mild to moderate dementia and also improved their mental functioning. The patients, who suffered from Alzheimer's or strokes, received ginkgo for a year. In another trial, healthy seniors were found to perform mental tasks better after receiving ginkgo.

Researchers attribute ginkgo's effects to its ability to expand blood vessels, thus increasing blood flow through the brain. They also theorize that compounds known as flavonoids and terpenoids play a role in dismantling destructive free radicals that are thought to play a role in Alzheimer's and other diseases.

Ginkgo's circulatory effects have also helped ease a condition known as intermittent claudication, in which leg blood vessels narrow, preventing blood from reaching muscles and making walking painful.

How to Take It: Ginkgo is recommended in a dose of 40 mg to 80 mg three times per day of an extract standardized to 24% flavonoid glycosides and 65% terpenoids. Expect to take the herb for at least eight weeks before seeing an improvement in memory.

Side effects include mild stomach or intestinal upset, headache or an allergic skin reaction. Ginkgo should not be taken with anticoagulants, such as aspirin or warfarin. And avoid during pregnancy.

PHOTO (COLOR): Ginkgo: The Brain Booster