Summary

Ginkgo biloba is one of the world’s oldest natural medicines. Its use dates back tens of thousands of years to ancient China, where it was used to improve energy and treat a variety of ailments ranging from infection to asthma.

Modern research confirms Ginkgo biloba, usually supplemented in the form of a standardized 50:1 concentrated extract, has many benefits for both brain and body.

Some of Ginkgo biloba’s most exciting benefits are related to memory, mood, and cognition.

It’s also known to act as an antioxidant, protecting the brain from oxidative stress and damage from free radicals.

Because it interacts very well with other supplements and may act as a potentiator for other nootropics, Ginkgo biloba is a popular addition to nootropic stacks.

Ginkgo is not regulated as a pharmaceutical in the US and is available as a dietary supplement.

Benefits and Effects

Memory Improvement

Ginkgo biloba has a longstanding reputation as a memory enhancer, and recent research is proving that reputation to be well-earned.

A number of studies and clinical trials have shown that Ginkgo biloba supplements markedly improved memory, particularly in individuals suffering from mild to moderate age-related dementia.‍[1]‍[2]

Many clinical trials suggest that Ginkgo biloba also enhances certain aspects of memory in cognitively healthy populations. A six-week study involving middle-aged participants with no cognitive impairment showed that daily administration of Ginko biloba substantially boosted information recall, though overall cognition remained unchanged.‍[3]

In a similar study involving elderly participants with no cognitive impairment, daily administration of Gingko biloba improved delayed recall and recognition but did not enhance other aspects of memory.‍[4]

Studies indicate that while Gingko biloba is most effective as a memory enhancer in older populations, it may improve some aspects of memory in younger users as well.‍[5]

Anecdotal user reports support Ginkgo biloba’s memory enhancing effects.‍[6]‍[7]‍[8]

Enhanced Cognition

Ginkgo biloba’s ability to improve circulation and blood flow in the brain makes it a useful and powerful nootropic, both on its own and in combination with other supplements.

Its ability to reduce blood viscosity is key to its nootropic capability; it literally makes the blood less sticky, which improves blood flow, enhances the absorption of oxygen and nutrients, and ultimately boosts cognitive function.‍[9]

Gingko biloba also enhances cognition by increasing levels of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter most closely associated with learning, and dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with motivation and reward.

Studies and clinical trials indicate that Gingko biloba can attenuate mild age-related non-Alzheimer’s cognitive decline‍[10] and significantly reduce cognitive deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.‍[11]

Increased Energy

Ginkgo biloba has been considered a powerful energy booster for thousands of years, and modern research indicates that the ancient Chinese physicians who prescribed it as a general tonic were definitely on the right track.

By improving circulation throughout the body, Ginkgo biloba enhances oxygenation and the absorption of nutrients, increasing endurance and making muscles work better and perform longer.‍[12]

Gingko biloba has also been shown to increase energy by improving insulin signaling, decreasing inflammation,‍[13] and reducing the oxidative stress that can lead to cellular death.‍[14]

Mood Management

Ginkgo biloba has traditionally been used as a mood elevator, and clinical trials on participants suffering from anxiety disorders confirm that it is an effective treatment for anxiety.‍[15]

It has also been shown to be an effective mood modulator for adults with geriatric depression.‍[16]

How It Works

Studies show that Ginkgo biloba has several mechanisms of action. Its primary active components are ginkgo flavone glycosides, which act as free radical scavengers, and terpene lactones, which have antibacterial and other pharmaceutical functions.‍[17]

The actions of these components make Ginkgo an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that also enhances cerebral glucose utilization, reduces platelet aggregation, regulates neurotransmitter release, and impacts the vasomotor system.‍[18]

One of Ginkgo biloba’s most important actions is inhibiting the platelet activating factor (PAF) receptor, which improves circulation throughout the brain and body by dilating blood vessels and making the blood less sticky.‍[19]

Ginkgo also protects the vascular system from damage by incomplete atoms known as free radicals, which are formed during the process of oxidation.‍[20] Free radicals scavenge and damage other cells and can significantly impair circulation. Ginkgo biloba is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, preventing them from damaging surrounding cells and even repairing some of the damage free radicals may have already done.

Improved circulation plays a significant role in Ginkgo biloba’s therapeutic and nootropic capabilities.‍[21] Enhanced cerebral circulation makes the brain work more efficiently, absorbing oxygen and nutrients faster and more thoroughly.

Ginkgo has also been found to modulate the release of several important neurotransmitters, increasing levels of serotonin, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine.

In addition, Ginkgo biloba has natural monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibiting properties similar to those in prescription antidepressants.‍[22] MAO inhibition keeps the mood-related neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in balance and may provide a feeling of mental clarity.

Dosage

There is no standard dosage of Ginkgo biloba extract, but amounts ranging from 120–600 mg per day have been used in studies and found to be safe and effective for improving memory.‍[23]‍[24]

Ginkgo should be taken with food, and the daily total amount can be taken all at once or spread over two to three doses.

Stacking

Ginkgo biloba is a popular natural nootropic that works very well alone but truly shines in combination with other supplements. Some users report its cognition-enhancing effects are best realized when it is combined, or “stacked,” with other supplements.

Here are some all-natural nootropic stack examples.

Ginkgo Biloba Stack for Memory Enhancement

Vinpocetine is a natural nootropic that is best known as a memory booster. Like Ginkgo biloba, it has been shown to improve circulation and act as a brain protectant.

2x per day

Ginkgo Biloba Stack for Mood, Cognition, and Energy

Ashwagandha is an ancient herbal nootropic that dates back to Ayurvedic medicine. Known primarily for its powerful anti-anxiety effects, it also boosts mood and cognition.

Gotu Kola is a respected natural supplement known mainly for increasing energy, but it also positively affects cardiovascular health and is known to improve conditions of chronic venous insufficiency.

2x per day

Side Effects

Ginkgo biloba is considered both safe and well tolerated, but some minor side effects including nausea, headaches, and rapid heartbeat have been reported. These effects are rare and are usually temporary, but if you experience them a dosage reduction is recommended.

There is some indication that Gingko biloba can increase the risk of bleeding,‍[25] so anyone who has a bleeding disorder or who is planning surgery or recently had surgery should consult a physician before taking it.

Women who are pregnant or nursing are advised to avoid Ginkgo biloba, as there is little data on its effects in these situations.

Gingko biloba may interact with blood thinners, aspirin and NSAID pain relievers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, diabetes drugs, and anti-platelet drugs. People who are taking any of these medications are advised to avoid taking Ginkgo biloba.‍[26]

Where to Buy

Ginkgo biloba extract is one of the most widely available supplements and is both available in regular storefronts and, conveniently, can also be ordered online. Based on our research, we recommend the following Ginkgo biloba supplements that can be ordered from Amazon:

Alternatively, we recommend purchasing Ginkgo biloba from PureNootropics.net, a trusted vendor for specialty supplements.

Closing Thoughts

Ginkgo biloba is an ancient natural supplement that has stood the test of time.

Widely prescribed as both a specific treatment and a general tonic for tens of thousands of years, it is currently being studied in its standardized extract form as a potential treatment for a variety of circulatory and memory-related disorders and is rapidly gaining in popularity as a natural nootropic.

Ginkgo biloba extract may boost energy, improve memory and cognition, and act as a powerful potentiator in combination with other supplements.

It’s safe, well-tolerated, affordable, and readily available everywhere.

If you’re interested in making the most of your brain and body, Ginkgo biloba extract is a supplement that may be well worth a try.

References   [ + ]

Planning to start a new supplementation regimen? See our medical disclaimer.

This page was last updated on January 11, 2019.