Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloga) is a Medicinal Herb Used in Traditional Herbal Medicine.

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Medicinal Herbs & Therapeutic Botanicals

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Botanicals: Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

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Ginkgo biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments and conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, fatigue, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

The Ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba L.; from Japanese ginkyo, meaning silver apricot) or maidenhair tree, is characterized by fan-shaped leaves and fleshy, yellow, foul-smelling seeds, enclosing a silvery, edible inner kernel (1). G. biloba is the only surviving member of a family of trees, Ginkgoaceae, which appeared in the Jurassic period 170 million years ago, and for this reason is called the living fossil. There is a gap of 100 million years between the current and ancient tree in the fossil record but recent paleontological findings of a fossil over 121 million years old have shown that the tree has barely changed since the days of the dinosaurs. It is distinct from all other living plants and is often categorized in its own division, Ginkgophyta, by botanical taxonomists. G. biloba is believed to be one of the oldest living tree species and is capable of reaching ages in excess of one thousand years. Recent investigations have used this living fossil to evaluate CO2 levels in prehistoric times (1).

Botanicals: Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)





Ginkgo biloba leafBiological Name:
Ginkgo biloba L.


Other Names: 
Ginkgo, Yin Guo, Ginkyo, G. biloba, Maiden hair tree

Parts Used:
Dried Green Leaves

Active Compounds: 
Constituents of Ginkgo: flavonoids (flavone glycosides, primarily composed quercetin) and terpenoids (ginkolides and bilobalides) (2).

Major known Actions: Vasorelaxing, anticoagulant, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties of Ginkgo biloba have most frequently been prescribed as preparations that improve cerebral blood circulation, and especially for memory improvement (1,3,4).


Traditional Applications in Herbal Medicine:

Western Herbal Applications:


  • Asthma, bronchitis, fatigue, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
  • Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia;
    • Improvement in thinking, learning, and memory (cognitive function)
    • Improvement in activities of daily living
    • Improvement in social behavior
    • Fewer feelings of depression
  • Intermittent claudication (leg pain caused by narrowing arteries);
  • Sexual dysfunction,
  • Multiple sclerosis,
  • Eye problems: Macular degeneration (age related)
  • Intermittent Claudication
  • Memory impairment
  • Dyslexia
  • Menopausal symptoms (used as a possible alternative to HRT).
  • Other conditions: Depression; Disorientation; Headaches, High blood pressure; Erectile dysfunction; Vertigo.


Chinese Herbal Applications:

Functions and Clinical Use:

  • Expels Phlegm and stops wheezing - used for wheezing with coughting and copious sputum (5).
  • Stops discharge - used for leukorrhea and turbid utine, especially from Damp Heat (5).
  • Stabilizes the Lower Heater - used for frequent urination, urinary incontinence, or spermatorrhea (5).


Scientific Research Into Ginkgo biloba:

Researchers found that 3 months of oral administration of Egb 761 significantly reduced MDA levels of erythrocytes membranes, decreased fibrinogen levels, promoted erythrocytes deformability, and improved blood viscosity and viscoelasticity, which may facilitate blood perfusion. Furthermore, it effectively improved retinal capillary blood flow rate in type 2 diabetic patients with retinopathy (6).

Woelk, et al., (2007) demonstrated the usefulness of Ginkgo biloba in younger patients suffering from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and found, that Ginkgo biloba was not only safe, but very effective in treating GAD. In addition, they reported that Ginkgo biloba was of particular value in elderly patients with anxiety related to cognitive decline.



Consult a qualified health care professional for advice on suitability and dosage before taking Ginkgo biloba .



  1. Stromgaard, K. and Nakanishi, K. (2004) Chemistry and biology of terpene trilactones from Ginkgo Biloba, Angewandte Chemie International Edition 43, pp. 1640–1658.
  2. Sonata Trumbeckaite, Jurga Bernatoniene, Daiva Majiene, Valdas Jakštas, Arunas Savickas and Adolfas Toleikis (2007) Effect of Ginkgo biloba extract on the rat heart mitochondrial function. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 111, Issue 3, 22, Pages 512-516.
  3. Christen, Y. ( 2004) Ginkgo biloba and neurodegenerative disorders, Frontiers in Bioscience 9, pp. 3091–3104.
  4. Luo, Y. ( 2001) Ginkgo biloba neuroprotection: therapeutic implications in Alzheimer's disease, Joural of Alzheimers Disease 3, pp. 401–407.
  5. Bensky, D. Gamble, A. and Kaptchuk, T. (1986) Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica. Eastland Press, Michigan.
  6. Shih-Yi Huang, Chii Jeng, Shou-Chuan Kao, Joseth Jy-Hau Yu and Der-Zen Liu (2004). Improved haemorrheological properties by Ginkgo biloba extract (Egb 761) in type 2 diabetes mellitus complicated with retinopathy. Clinical Nutrition, Volume 23, Issue 4, Pages 615-621.
  7. Woelk, H. Arnoldt, K.H., Kieser, M. and Hoerr, R. (2007) Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761 in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Psychiatric Research 41 (2007) 472–480


The information provided here is not for the purpose of self diagnosis or self treatment. It is provided for the sole purpose of providing general information about herbs used in herbal medicine. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.

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