What is it?
Ginkgo plant is one of the longest living tree species in the world, it can live for as long as a thousand years. The leaves of Ginkgo plant is often used as an herb or medicine. Ginkgo leaves may improve blood circulation and slows down Alzheimer disease. The seeds can help fight bacterial and fungi infections however it also contain a toxin which may cause change in consciousness and seizures.
There have been scientific evidence that ginkgo leaves extract helps improve Alzheimer disease, dementia, improves thinking, Raynaud’s phenomenon (fingers blue discoloration when exposed to cold and pain), helps in claudication leg pain for those with peripheral vascular disease, pre-menstrual symptoms, improves glaucoma, improves color vision in diabetic patients and also helps in patients with vertigo and dizziness.
However, there are currently insufficient evidence based studies that prove its effectiveness in certain conditions like altitude sickness, tinnitus, sexual dysfunction, heart diseases, age related macular degeneration, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. More studies are required to verify such claims.
Possible side effects
Ginkgo leaves’ extract at appropriate dose is generally safe for most people but there are some possible side effects include dizziness, constipation, headache and stomach upset. Ginkgo fruit and pulp may cause some skin allergy reactions. Gingko seeds contain certain toxins hence it should be avoided.
It is not recommended for lactating/pregnant women as it may cuase bleeding and early labor.
If you have bleeding disorders, avoid gingko as it slows blood clotting hence increases bleeding tendencies.
Diabetic patients should monitor their sugar level as gingko will reduce blood sugar levels.
1. Diabetic medications: Ginkgo will lower sugar levels and hence it should be taken with caution for patients with diabetes.
2. Anti-coagulants & anti-platelets & warfarin: Ginkgo will increase tendency to bleed when used with anti-coagulants and anti-platelet medications.
3. Anti-depressants: Ginkgo reduces the effectiveness of anti-depressants like fluoxetine, Xanax, buspirone and faverine.
4. Medications broken down by liver enzymes cytochrome P450: Ginkgo slows down the liver enzymes break down of medications that are metabolized by the liver and hence increasing their side effects. Examples of such medications include lovastatin, ketoconazole, Itraconazole, olanzapine, theophylline, phenytoin, tolbutamide and fexofenadine.
5. Anti-seizure medications: Ginkgo may reduce the effectiveness of epileptic medications like phenytoin, gabapentin, and carbamazepine and increases the risk of seizures.
6. Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ): Hctz is used as a hypertension medications and to reduce fluid retention. Gingko plus HCTZ will increase the blood pressure further.
The following are suggested dosages of ginkgo leaf extract for certain medical conditions. Please follow the instructions on product label and if in doubt consult your doctor first.
For cognitive improvement in healthy young people: 120-600 mg per day divided in 2-3 doses.
For dementia syndromes: 120-240 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract, divided in two or three doses.
For claudication pain from peripheral vascular disease: 120-240 mg per day divided into two or three doses.
For Raynaud’s disease: 360 mg per day divided into three doses.
For premenstrual syndrome: 80 mg twice daily, starting on the sixteenth day of the menstrual cycle until the fifth day of the next cycle.
For vertigo: 120-160 mg per day divided into two or three doses.
For the treatment of normal tension glaucoma: 40 mg 3 times daily up to four weeks.