It’s one of the oldest supplements, and there’s a reason why. Gingko is the oldest surviving tree species and continues to be highly researched. Trusted in traditional medicine for millennia and commonly taken in the West, this herb offers various health benefits worth considering.
Let’s talk about the history of Ginkgo, including how it has been traditionally used and the health benefits you can expect by taking a Ginkgo supplement and how you can easily incorporate one into your daily routine.
First, let’s look at the characteristics of the Ginkgo tree and how it came to be trusted for therapeutic purposes.
What is Ginkgo Biloba?
The Ginkgo biloba tree is native to China. Fossil records indicate it has existed since the Jurassic period.REF#2558 As such, it is often referred to as “the living fossil.” Today, Ginkgo trees, also known as maidenhair trees, are grown worldwide, including in parts of North America.
History of Ginkgo Use
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has relied on the Ginkgo tree for medicinal therapies for thousands of years. The first recorded evidence of Ginkgo’s use (from approximately 2,800 BC) shows that it was trusted for supporting the respiratory system, cognitive function, the urinary tract, and support against parasites.REF#2559
Today, we trust Ginkgo for research-backed health benefits that extend beyond what the ancients knew of this medicinal tree.
Parts of the Ginkgo Tree Used
The power of this herb lies in the Ginkgo biloba leaf. The green leaves are dried and made into a Ginkgo biloba extract. The seeds of the Ginkgo Biloba tree can also be used, but modern usage focuses primarily on the extract taken from the dried leaves.
What are the Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba?
Rethink everything you think you know about Ginkgo. Its benefits extend well outside cognitive support, and taking Ginkgo regularly could help support your health in additional ways.
Here are five ways you can support your body with Ginkgo biloba.
1. Antioxidant Protection
The research into Ginkgo Biloba’s antioxidant protection is relatively new, considering that the plant itself is so old. The flavonoids in Ginkgo are rich in antioxidants, which help protect the cells in our bodies against free radical damage.
Free radicals are released inside our bodies in response to external stressors like UV rays, cigarette smoke, and pollution. Free radicals can damage existing cells through a process called oxidative stress. This damage can be replicated to new cells on proliferation, creating the background for disease and illness.
Antioxidants offer protection to cells by offering themselves up to free radicals. Keeping a healthy balance of antioxidants is essential for maintaining cellular health.
2. Cognitive Support
One of the most popular reasons people begin taking a Ginkgo supplement is to support better brain health. Cognitive decline is usually thought of as an age-related issue, but certain health conditions can cause cognitive function to deteriorate faster. That means supporting cognitive function isn’t just a health concern of older adults.
You may begin experiencing symptoms of mild cognitive impairment as early as age 40. Symptoms can include memory loss, inability to focus, and feeling like you’ve lost your edge. Luckily, supporting your brain health can help you reduce your risk of cognitive-related illnesses.
Ginkgo has been used for many years to support healthy cognitive function, and today we know that it can help keep our brains functioning smoothly and help support memory, focus, and mental processing.REF#2559
It’s worth noting here that if you take antidepressants or any other medication for health conditions such as anxiety disorder, epilepsy, or ADHD, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating Ginkgo into your daily routine.
3. Blood Circulation
Ginkgo seeds were traditionally thought to open blocked channels of energy and help move a person’s qi energy throughout the body. Ancient practitioners may have relied on these seeds for this purpose due to Ginkgo’s supposed ability to encourage blood flow to different parts of the body.REF#2560
Ginkgo can support the circulating levels of nitric oxide in the blood, helping the blood vessels expand and allowing blood to reach all parts of the body.REF#2560 Healthy circulation can help support a myriad of bodily functions because circulatory health means that your systems can get the oxygen and nutrients they need from the available circulation of blood.REF#2560
Because Ginkgo can support blood circulation, it may also help with PMS symptoms. Cramping is a common symptom of premenstrual syndrome that can often be helped by supporting blood flow.
It’s worth noting that if you currently take anticoagulants or blood thinners like Warfarin, or medication for high blood pressure, you should speak to your healthcare provider before using Ginkgo.
4. Ginkgo For Eye Health
This blood flow may also support eye health. Ginkgo was shown to encourage blood flow to the eye in studies of individuals with glaucoma.REF#2561 Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerves.
While it’s unclear whether or not taking Ginkgo can translate into better vision, it is understood that supporting vascular health in the eye can help support overall eye health.REF#2561
5. Cardiovascular Health
Heart disease has been the number one killer among Americans for decades. Supporting heart health should start early and include plenty of exercise and a healthy diet.
In several double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, Ginkgo was given to patients who suffered from impaired heart function and unhealthy glucose levels. In these trials, Ginkgo helped support blood sugar levels, supporting a healthy balance.REF#2562
Because Ginkgo has adaptogenic properties, it can help support metabolic functions like blood pressure, immunity, and even glucose levels.REF#2563 Restoring balance to these functions can help support your overall health and well-being.
How Can You Get More Ginkgo Into Your Day?
Taking a Ginkgo supplement can be a supportive way to bolster your brain power, support heart health, and offer antioxidant protection to your body.
While side effects of Ginkgo biloba are few, we recommend reaching out to your healthcare provider if you notice any discomfort after taking a supplement. Also, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, we recommend getting medical advice before incorporating Ginkgo into your daily routine.
For Cognitive Health and Heart Support
Combining this supplement with a healthy lifestyle can be the quintessential golden ticket to support brain health and heart health.
For Energy Support
Supporting stamina and healthy energy levels can help us power through more of our days without relying on caffeine.
Focus On Ginkgo
For supporting your brain and heart health, taking a Ginkgo supplement is a no-brainer. Ginkgo’s additional health benefits make it an effective addition to practically anyone’s health stack. To get the most benefit from a Ginkgo supplement, aim to take it regularly and combine it with healthy lifestyle activities like a balanced diet and exercise.
It’s also important to keep challenging your brain. Take part in puzzles, read a book, or engage in stimulating conversation with loved ones and friends. These actions can help support your brain health and protect against cognitive decline.
- 1. , "Ginkgoales: Fossil Record.", UCMP.Berkley.Edu. University of Berkley, Accessed June 22, 2023. . 1 1. , "Ginkgoales: Fossil Record.", UCMP.Berkley.Edu. University of Berkley, Accessed June 22, 2023. .
- 2. , "Ginkgo Biloba", Science Direct. Science Direct, Accessed June 22, 2023. 2 2. , "Ginkgo Biloba", Science Direct. Science Direct, Accessed June 22, 2023.
- 3. Wu Y, Li S, Cui W, Zu X, Du J, Wang F. , "Ginkgo biloba extract improves coronary blood flow in healthy elderly adults: role of endothelium-dependent vasodilation", Phytomedicine. 2008 Mar;15(3):164-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2007.12.002. Epub 2008 Feb 6. PMID: 18258419. . 3 3. Wu Y, Li S, Cui W, Zu X, Du J, Wang F. , "Ginkgo biloba extract improves coronary blood flow in healthy elderly adults: role of endothelium-dependent vasodilation", Phytomedicine. 2008 Mar;15(3):164-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2007.12.002. Epub 2008 Feb 6. PMID: 18258419. .
- 4. Kang JM, Lin S., "Ginkgo biloba and its potential role in glaucoma", Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2018 Mar;29(2):116-120. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0000000000000459. PMID: 29206653.. 4 4. Kang JM, Lin S., "Ginkgo biloba and its potential role in glaucoma", Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2018 Mar;29(2):116-120. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0000000000000459. PMID: 29206653..
- 5. Sun M, Chai L, Lu F, Zhao Y, Li Q, Cui B, Gao R, Liu Y., "Efficacy and Safety of Ginkgo Biloba Pills for Coronary Heart Disease with Impaired Glucose Regulation: Study Protocol for a Series of N-of-1 Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trials", Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Oct 14;2018:7571629. doi: 10.1155/2018/7571629. PMID: 30405743; PMCID: PMC6204161.. 5 5. Sun M, Chai L, Lu F, Zhao Y, Li Q, Cui B, Gao R, Liu Y., "Efficacy and Safety of Ginkgo Biloba Pills for Coronary Heart Disease with Impaired Glucose Regulation: Study Protocol for a Series of N-of-1 Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trials", Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Oct 14;2018:7571629. doi: 10.1155/2018/7571629. PMID: 30405743; PMCID: PMC6204161..
- 6. Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2010), "Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity.", Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 3(1), 188–224.. 6 6. Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2010), "Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity.", Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 3(1), 188–224..