Are you looking for a reliable herbal supplement to support your memory health?
Not sure which supplements you should consider?
If you’re like most individuals on the lookout for trustworthy supplements to boost brain performance and memory, you’re probably familiar with one of the most common choices on the market: ginkgo biloba.
But if you’re not familiar with ginkgo biloba already, you may be asking yourself: what is ginkgo biloba? How effective is it, really? How does it help prevent memory loss?
Fortunately, you’re not alone—ginkgo biloba is one of the most widely used memory supplements on the market, and one of the most thoroughly studies for its effectiveness.
If you’re considering adding ginkgo biloba extracts to your supplement regimen, it’s helpful to understand what benefits it can offer, and why so many people choose to take ginkgo biloba to support memory and brain health every day.
Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know about ginkgo biloba for memory and brain health, and what you should consider before taking ginkgo leaf extract.
What Is Ginkgo Biloba?
Ginkgo biloba—also known as ginkgo leaf extract—is made from the leaf of the ginkgo tree, a plant native to parts of east Asia.
The ginkgo tree’s leaves and fruits have been a critical ingredient in Chinese traditional medicine for thousands of years, used to treat a variety of ailments from dementia, asthma, and bronchitis to kidney and bladder disorders.
Aside from its medicinal uses, the ginkgo tree is also prized as a food source, and its fruits are eaten widely in China and Japan, and among other cultures. In fact, the ginkgo has become so popular that it has been recognized as the official tree of Tokyo.
One of the oldest cultivated plants in human history, the ginkgo tree (also known as simply “ginkgo” or “maidenhair”) is, itself, a fascinating specimen. Ginkgo is considered a “living fossil,” showing remarkable stability even after millions of years—with the earliest actual ginkgo leaf fossils dated back to the Jurassic period.
Highly resilient and able to live for decades (and in some reported instances, even centuries), the ginkgo tree is prized for its ability to withstand extreme weather and changing environments. Some ginkgo trees were even discovered to still be growing in the immediate vicinity of Hiroshima after the nuclear blast, where other plants had died shortly after impact.
Why Do People Take Ginkgo Biloba?
Although ginkgo has been used for millennia to treat a wide variety of ailments, most modern users take ginkgo biloba to improve memory, sharpen their cognitive abilities, and boost their brain performance.
Ginkgo is currently among the most commonly used supplements in the world and is trusted by millions of people worldwide to aid in relieving symptoms from a wide variety of ailments.
As a result, ginkgo has been widely studied for its effects in treating everything from overall brain health to specific muscular and neurological symptoms.
How Does Ginkgo Biloba Impact Brain Health?
While there have long been many traditional reasons individuals take ginkgo biloba for health, modern medicine and scientific studies have identified several areas where gingko leaf extracts may be able to play a role in protecting overall brain and body health.
Increase Blood Flow to the Brain
Medically, ginkgo has been shown to increase blood flow throughout the body, particularly to the brain. This can help deliver more oxygen to areas of the brain, which may be able to help stimulate cranial regions responsible for memory.
Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety
According to one study, an extract of ginkgo biloba may be effective at helping to reduce the symptoms of anxiety related to cognitive decline. This can help avoid risk factors like stress, panic attacks, feelings of fear, and other symptoms of anxiety.
Antioxidant Protection from Gingko
Ginkgo leaf extract may act as an antioxidant, which can be highly beneficial to removing free radicals in the body and help protect against diseases like cancer, heart disease, or other ailments. The antioxidant properties of ginkgo may also be able to help in the fight against neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Some studies show that ginkgo supports a healthy inflammation response in the brain and may even support the brain’s ability to repair physical trauma. This may be highly beneficial for preventing long-term effects of swelling of the brain, especially in cases caused by exposure to heavy metals or mold. A 2008 study on the effects of ginkgo in mice suggested that extracts from ginkgo could hold particularly effective anti-inflammatory properties.
Other Uses of Ginkgo
Ginkgo has been used to treat a variety of conditions ranging from broad ailments to highly specific conditions, including:
- Asthma and Allergies – Some extracts of ginkgo have been suggested as a treatment for respiratory ailments, since ginkgo may be able to relieve airway inflammation and suppress the action of compounds that contribute to asthma.
- Dementia – Ginkgo has been shown in some studies to be more effective than placebo at helping to prevent symptoms of dementia in patients.
- Glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other eye problems – Studies have shown that ginkgo biloba may be effective at increasing ocular blood flow—or blood flow to the eyes—which may help provide protection from eye problems like glaucoma.
- Peripheral artery disease – According to some studies, ginkgo biloba extract may be beneficial toward increasing blood circulation in arteries among patients (especially older patients) living with peripheral artery disease.
- Tinnitus – In some studies, extracts from ginkgo biloba have shown some benefit toward reducing the symptoms of tinnitus (also known as ringing in the ears).
- Pre-menstrual syndrome – A randomized, placebo-controlled study from 2009 suggested that extracts from ginkgo biloba showed an ability to reduce the severity of PMS symptoms in patients.
- Schizophrenia – In some studies, extracts from ginkgo biloba have shown promise in improving the efficacy of antipsychotic drugs for individuals living with schizophrenia.
- Vertigo – The feelings of dizziness and loss of equilibrium associated with vertigo, may be treated with extracts from ginkgo biloba.
Is Ginkgo Leaf Extract Safe to Take?
Humans have been using ginkgo biloba medicinally for thousands of years, and the plant, its fruit, and its extracts have become a widely used supplement for supporting healthy brain function and other healthy body functions.
Medically, studies suggest that, when taken in controlled dosages and in moderation, extracts from ginkgo biloba can be safe to take orally.
Those at particular risk of bleeding disorders may want to consult with a physician before taking ginkgo, as the increased blood flow from ginkgo supplements may interact with these conditions.
Similarly, it is important to talk with your doctor about your current drug regimen before taking ginkgo extracts, as the effects of ginkgo may interact with other chemicals like anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants.
What do Studies Show about Ginkgo and Memory?
Because ginkgo has been used by so many people for its health effects for so long, it has drawn particular attention from the scientific community for further study. In the past decades, ginkgo has been examined and tested for its impact on a variety of symptoms and ailments in a laboratory setting.
Here is a look at a few key studies involving ginkgo biloba that may be of particular importance for those focused on brain health and protecting memory:
Gingko & Slowing Memory Loss
In 2008, a study by Dr. Hiroko Dodge from Oregon State University at Corvallis set out to study the link between ginkgo biloba and memory. The objective: to assess just how effective extracts from ginkgo biloba could be in delaying the progression of cognitive impairment in healthy patients aged 85 and older.
This study followed 188 subjects for three years, none of whom exhibited signs of memory loss or dementia at the start of the study. Half of the subjects took ginkgo biloba extracts, while the other half took a placebo.
After three years of study, those subjects who consistently took their ginkgo biloba extracts on a regular basis as instructed showed a 70% lower risk of developing dementia compared to the control group—a difference deemed statistically significant by the researchers.
This study does in fact suggest that ginkgo biloba may improve memory and could be key to slowing or preventing the onset of dementia and memory-loss symptoms among older adults.
Ginkgo Biloba & Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease
In a 2010 study, German researchers led by Dr. Stefan Weinmann performed a meta-analysis of nine previously run studies that each tested whether ginkgo biloba was more effective than placebo in reducing memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease.
This comprehensive analysis sought to review a variety of existing clinical analysis of ginkgo biloba’s impact on memory loss, and whether ginkgo biloba could be reliably counted on as a possible treatment for slowing or preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other memory-related conditions.
The result of this study found that ginkgo biloba was, overall, tied to a lower degree of worsening of memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease in people taking ginkgo extracts compared to the people who took a placebo.
Crucially, all nine studies analyzed in this meta-analysis found ginkgo biloba was shown to help prevent memory loss, and that among these some studies found ginkgo biloba to be more effective than others at preventing memory loss or worsening symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Ginkgo Biloba & Improving Memory Performance
In 2003, a team of researchers at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute conducted a study to measure the impact of ginkgo leaf extracts on memory, and to test whether people with age-associated memory impairment could see improvement in their memory performance as a result of taking herbal ginkgo biloba.
The study measured the impact of ginkgo biloba supplements compared to a placebo in 10 subjects, all aged 45 to 75 years old. While some patients received ginkgo biloba supplements twice daily, others received a placebo over the course of a six-month period. During this time, subjects were tested for factors like verbal recall and other signs of memory loss using positron-emission tomography (PET), an imaging technique that helps visualize changes in metabolic or biochemical processes in the brains of subjects.
The result: all subjects who received the ginkgo biloba supplements demonstrated better verbal recall compared to those receiving the placebo.
Both the length of time involved in this study and the results observed in subjects provide significant evidence that ginkgo biloba may be useful in improving memory loss in people experiencing age-related memory loss problems.
Learn more about the study here: UCLA researchers find gingko biloba may help | EurekAlert!
Want To Protect Your Memory? Ginkgo Leaf Extract May Be Able to Help
If you’re looking for ways to protect your memory and improve brain performance, natural herbal supplements may be able to provide significant benefits to keep your brain sharp well into old age.
Ginkgo leaf extract may be one of the most effective herbal supplements for this purpose—combining success in recent clinical studies with thousands of years of traditional use as a medicinal remedy for a wide variety of ailments.
If you’re considering ginkgo for memory health, it’s worthwhile to talk with a trusted medical professional and see for yourself just how effective ginkgo biloba can be for your brain performance.
Want even more memory protection? Consider a supplement that combines the power of ginkgo leaf extract with other trusted natural brain-boosting ingredients, which may be able to work together to help improve your working memory, support brain health, and provide long-lasting protection from conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.