What are the benefits of ginkgo biloba?

There are many potential health benefits of Ginkgo biloba:

Ginkgo may alleviate some symptoms of brain deterioration (dementia): Most well-designed clinical studies show that ginkgo improves symptoms in patients who are suffering from the kind of dementia that is due to impaired blood supply to the brain.

In the largest recent clinical trials among patients with dementia of the Alzheimer's type or dementia that is due to multiple areas of cell death in the brain, the extract of Ginkgo biloba showed mixed results. The extract resulted in symptomatic improvements that were large enough for caregivers to notice although the overall physician evaluations were unchanged.

Ginkgo may improve blood circulation: Similar improvements are documented for patients with insufficient peripheral blood flow (intermittent claudication). Among patients with intermittent claudication that was confirmed by X rays, both total walking distance and pain-free walking distance increased significantly for those randomized to receive ginkgo compared to those who received a placebo. However, the ultrasound measure of the rate of circulation through the legs (Doppler index) was unaffected.

Ginkgo's effects on memory may depend on age: While no effect on memory has been observed among younger healthy volunteers, some measures of mental performance appeared to improve in a placebo-controlled study of 31 elderly outpatients who were suffering from mild or moderate memory impairment.

Ginkgo may relieve symptoms of some forms of ringing of the ears (tinnitus): A possible effect of ginkgo extract in relieving symptoms of tinnitus was recently confirmed. Because tinnitus has many causes in addition to disorders of the blood supply to the brain, it remains to be seen what proportion of tinnitus sufferers will find relief by using ginkgo.

Ginkgo has antioxidant functions: Some of these effects may be due to the ability of Ginkgo biloba extracts to inhibit the formation of oxygen free radicals. Experimental studies in animals and humans show a protective effect of Ginkgo biloba against tissue damage and impairment of function due to insufficient oxygen, which can trigger excessive oxygen-free radical activity.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Ginkgo biloba is an herb that comes from the Chinese ginkgo tree. It is reputed to have antioxidant properties and is best known for its supposed enhancement of mental clarity. Ginkgo is also reputed to lower blood pressure and to have other antiaging properties. Are these claims valid? No one knows. Ginkgo biloba does contain flavonoids and other compounds that are known to scavenge free radicals. Although several European studies indicate possible benefits for Alzheimer's disease, these studies were not performed using a proper clinical trial design, and therefore their results cannot be viewed as reliable.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Ginkgo biloba improves mood and can help prevent macular degeneration.

Watch the video to find out from Dr. Oz about the other benefits of ginkgo biloba.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.