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.

Ginkgo biloba supplements are made from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree, which is one of the longest-living tree species in the world; some ginkgo trees are over 1000 years old.

Modern research has shown that ginkgo improves circulation and it is being studied as a potential treatment for a variety of ailments related to impaired blood flow, including headaches and sexual dysfunction. It is believed to have some value in combating the memory disorders related to Alzheimer’s disease, and it is known to reduce leg pain and cramping caused by exercise. It has also been shown to benefit people who suffer from Raynaud’s Syndrome, which is a painful response to cold, especially in the fingers and toes.

But some of ginkgo biloba’s most exciting possibilities are related to memory, mood, and cognition. By increasing blood flow and improving circulation in the brain, this ancient supplement acts as a nootropic. Users say it improves memory, elevates mood, and enhances learning. 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 in people suffering from mild to moderate primary degenerative dementia.‍[1]

While similar studies on healthy participants have been less conclusive or with differing conclusions, many users report that taking ginkgo biloba makes their memory sharper, clearer, and faster.

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. Better cerebral blood flow results in improved absorption of oxygen and nutrients, which in turn creates a feeling of mental clarity and alertness. It is also known to modulate the release of a number of important neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter most closely associated with learning.

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.

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.‍[2] It has also been shown to be an effective mood modulator for adults with anxiety.‍[3]

Better Vision

Clinical trials show that ginkgo biloba improves vision in people who suffer from glaucoma,‍[4] which is a family of diseases that result in vision loss via damage to the optic nerve. It has also been proven to benefit people who suffer from macular degeneration,‍[5] an incurable age-related condition in which the central part of the retina deteriorates.

How It Works

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

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. Ginkgo also protects the vascular system from damage by free radicals, which are incomplete atoms formed during the process of oxidation. 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. Better blood flow throughout the body makes muscles work better and reduces circulation-related pain and cramping. 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 or MAO inhibiting properties similar to those in prescription antidepressants. MAO inhibition keeps the mood-related neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in balance and gives a feeling of mental clarity.


Ginkgo biloba doses of up to 600 mg per day (split into three doses) have been tested and found to be both safe and effective.

For a quick mental boost of mental performance, a single dose of up to 600 mg a couple of hours before the task should be a good starting point. If taken as a daily supplement for overall brain health and the prevention of cognitive decline, taking 40–120 mg doses one to three times per day is a common recommendation.

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


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 good, simple 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.

Women who are pregnant or nursing are advised to avoid ginkgo biloba, as there is little data on its effects in these situations. In addition, people who have just had surgery or are taking anticonvulsants, anticoagulants, or antidepressants are advised to avoid taking ginkgo biloba.

Ginkgo biloba supplements are derived from the leaves of the ginkgo tree, but eating the seeds of the ginkgo tree or consuming extracts made from the ginkgo seeds can trigger dangerous seizures.

Where to Buy

Ginkgo biloba 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, a trusted vendor for specialty supplements.

Closing Thoughts

Ginkgo biloba is an ancient natural supplement that has truly 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 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 can 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 is a supplement that’s well worth a try.

References   [ + ]

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

This page was last updated on November 27, 2018.