Ginkgo biloba facts and health benefits

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Ginkgo biloba facts and health benefits

Ginkgo biloba Quick Facts
Name: Ginkgo biloba
Scientific Name: Ginkgo biloba
Origin Native to Far East Asia – China, Japan and Korea
Colors Green when young turning to pale yellow when mature
Shapes Elliptic, narrowly obovoid, or ovoid, 2.5–3.5 × 1.6–2.2 cm
Calories 182 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Vitamin B3 (37.50%)
Copper (30.44%)
Carbohydrate (28.92%)
Vitamin B6 (25.23%)
Vitamin B1 (18.33%)
Health benefits Increases Concentration, Depression, Cognitive Abilities, Fights Fibromyalgia, Helps Maintain Vision and Eye Health, Pain Relief, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Helps Heal Hemorrhoids, Blood Flow, Fights Symptoms of PMS, Vision Health, Heart Health, Helps Treat Headaches and Migraines, Nervous System, Cancer Prevention, Anti-Aging, Helps Prevent or Treat ADHD, Improves Libido, Lowers Symptoms of Asthma, Parkinson's disease
More facts about Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree, is one of the oldest species of trees on the planet. It is a unique tree without any living botanical relatives. It has been classified in a separate division Ginkgophyta, which contains the class of Ginkgoopsida, order of Ginkgoales, family of Ginkgoaceae, genus Ginkgo, and to this day it is the only living species belonging to this division. The tree is considered to be a “living fossil”, meaning that it has continued to survive even after major extinction events. It was named the maidenhair tree in England because the leaves look similar to the native maidenhair fern. The genus name Ginkgo is regarded as a misspelling of the Japanese gin kyo, “silver apricot”. The plant is native to Far East Asia – China, Japan and Korea and Common Ginkgo, Duck’s Foot Tree, Gingko, Gingko Biloba, Gingko Nuts, Golden Fossil Tree, Kew Tree, Maidenhair Tree are few of the most common names of this plant. The plant has unique features and is capable of growing more than 130 feet and can live for over one thousand years. In fact, there are some trees in China are said to be over 2,500 years old. Some of the popular varieties of ginkgo Biloba are Autumn Gold, Fastigiata, Pendula, Princeton Sentry, Saratoga and Variegata.


Ginkgo Biloba is a deciduous, resinous, dioecious branched tree, 40 m tall with light grey or greyish brown bark that is longitudinally fissured particularly on old trees and with trunk diameter reaching 1.5 m in old trees. Male trees show an upright and irregular form, female trees are low and spreading. Branches are stiff, covered with elliptic leaf scars and dimorphic, the elongated bearing alternate leaves and the abbreviated terminated with whorl of leaves surrounding a bud. Leaves are borne on 3–10 cm long petioles which are channeled on the adaxial surface, lamina is fan-shaped, to 13 × 8–15 cm, mostly 1.5 times wider than long, glossy pale green (resembling those of the maidenhair fern or Adiantum ), turning bright yellow in Autumn, with irregularly toothed or notched upper margins and dichotomously veined. Trees flower after 20–35 years, females displaying an abundance of ovules in pairs on stalks each containing an egg cell, initially very green, but later turning greenish yellow, then orange and brown. The male flowers are ivory-colored, catkin-like pollen cones (microsporangia), 3–6 on each short shoot containing boat-shaped pollen sacs with widely gaping slit. Ginkgo Biloba plant normally grows in cool temperate region but does not tolerate extreme frost. It thrives best in full sun. Plant prefers wide range of soil types but thrives on acidic, well-watered, well-drained, yellow loess soil.


Female ginkgo tree bears oval to round, 2.5–3.5 × 1.6–2.2 cm fleshy fruits about the size of small jujube (Chinese date). Fruit is normally green when young turning to pale yellow when mature. Its outer, nasty smelling pulp (exocarp) is known botanically as sarcotesta. A single hard shelled seed enclosing edible embryo (kernel) is situated at the center of fruit. An edible ginkgo nut is in fact a gametophyte surrounded by a thin membranous layer inside this hard shell as in pistachio. Ginkgo kernels measure about 1.5-2 cm in length and 1 cm in diameter and feature light jade green hue.


Ginkgo is considered to have originated from Far East Asia – China, Japan and Korea. It is commonly planted in Buddhist and Taoist temples in East Asia. It has been introduced to other temperate areas in both hemispheres. It is a remarkable tree that is similar to fossils dating back 270 million years ago. No other tree species in existence today is associated to the unique Ginkgo tree, which can live as long as one thousand years. Native to China, the tree has been used to help asthma and bronchitis since 2600 BC. In fact, the Ginkgo tree is the official national tree of China today.

Nutritional Value

Apart from their unique taste, Ginkgo biloba is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 100 gram of Ginkgo biloba offers 6 mg of Vitamin B3, 0.274 mg of Copper, 37.6 g of Carbohydrate, 0.328 mg of Vitamin B6, 0.22 mg of Vitamin B1, 124 mg of Phosphorus and 15 mg of Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid). Moreover many Amino acids  0.071 g of Tryptophan, 0.268 g of Threonine, 0.209 g of Isoleucine, 0.316 g of Leucine, 0.206 g of Lysine and 0.055 g of Methionine are also found in 100 gram of Ginkgo biloba.

Health benefits of Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba has a long history of use in treating blood disorders and memory issues. It is best known today as way to potentially keep your memory sharp. Laboratory studies have shown that ginkgo improves blood circulation by opening up blood vessels and making blood less sticky. It is also an antioxidant. Listed below are some of the popular health benefits of using Ginkgo Biloba –

1. Increases Concentration

Research shows that ginkgo can help combat poor concentration, reverse cognitive decline and heal exhaustion. It is also useful for treating cerebral insufficiency — a condition described by chronically low concentration, confusion, reduced physical performance, exhaustion, headaches and mood changes.

Many of the brain-boosting ginkgo biloba benefits that researchers have discovered rest on the fact that it’s an effective anti-inflammatory that increases antioxidant activity, lowers oxidative stress and improves circulation — all important factors for maintaining cognitive health.

2. Depression

Ginkgo biloba has been shown highly effective for those suffering from depression or chronic mood swings by balancing your hormonal levels and boosting your mood. While the most promising results have been shown in elderly people, particularly those suffering from depression as a result of cognitive difficulties, research on younger people suffering from depression have also been promising.(1)

3. Cognitive Abilities

One of the most commonly praised side effects of ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) is its impact on cognition. Research has demonstrated ginkgo biloba’s ability to increase memory and retention, boost focus, and stimulate creative thinking. Since the medicinal benefits of ginkgo are so commonly known, but millions of people around the world turn to GBE for a brain boost.(2)

4. Fights Fibromyalgia

Several researches have discovered that supplementing with CoQ10 and ginkgo together improved quality of life for people identified with fibromyalgia, a disorder of the nervous system. Fibromyalgia is actually an extensive muscle pain normally accompanied by fatigue; headaches; and trouble with sleep, anxiety and depression. Ginkgo biloba is actually one of the best natural fibromyalgia treatments.

5. Pain Relief

Ginkgo biloba has mild analgesic qualities likely resulting from anti-inflammatory properties in the organic compounds. In other words, when inflammation decreases, so too does the pain it causes. This makes it a popular option for people recovering from injuries or wounds, as well as those who suffer from chronic headaches.(3)

6. Helps Maintain Vision and Eye Health

Ginkgo appears to be beneficial for eye health since it improves blood flow to the eyes and fights free radial damage that may harm the cornea, macula and retina. It might be beneficial for older adults in conserving vision and lowering UV damage or oxidative stress to eye tissue.

Apart from that ginkgo are effective at lowering the risk for age-related macular degeneration. Vascular factors and oxidative damage are supposed to be two primary causes of vision loss and other age‐related eye disorders, but antioxidant plants and herbs like ginkgo help alleviate these effects.

7. Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Ginkgo biloba have a positive impact on people who are suffering from cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. There have been measurable improvements in cognitive ability and activity, primarily due to the antioxidant compounds in GBE, including terpenoids and flavonoids that stimulate neural activity and keep cognitive pathways fresh and clear of amyloid plaque. This is by far the most popular use of ginkgo biloba, as there is the most research to back up these very important claims.(4)

8. Helps Heal Hemorrhoids

Research have found that ginkgo biloba is beneficial for people suffering from painful hemorrhoids, which cause swelling, pain and bleeding because of an increase in pressure on the veins of the anus and rectum. Ginkgo help to lower pain improve pain tolerance and decrease inflammation, which helps to stop bleeding related with hemorrhoids, making ginkgo biloba an effective hemorrhoids treatment.

9. Blood Flow

Research has shown ginkgo biloba extract beneficial for increasing blood vessel dilation and stimulate blood flow to extremities in the body, including the skin and other essential organs, properly oxygenating the whole body and boosting energy and strength. This increase in blood flow also helps people suffering from claudication or poor circulation, allowing them to walk longer distances without pain. Apart from that it is often taken by people who suffer from gout as well, benefitting from this anti-clotting effect and the anti-inflammatory properties.(5)

10. Fights Symptoms of PMS

Earlier research has shown positive effects of taking ginkgo on reducing PMS symptoms, including mood swings, headaches, anxiety, fatigue as well as muscle pain. It also appears to have beneficial effects on mood and cognition in postmenopausal women and also help improve similar symptoms.

11. Vision Health

Ginkgo biloba is extremely beneficial for its powerful effect on vision. Antioxidants in ginkgo biloba help to keep the ocular system clear of oxidative stress, thus preventing macular degeneration and cataracts, but for people who suffer from glaucoma and other vision issues, GBE has shown to improve vision and increase long-distance sight capacity.(6)

12. Raynaud’s disease

Raynaud’s disease is mainly caused by blood vessels that over react to the cold and spasm, decreasing blood flow and thereby divesting extremities of oxygen. Ginkgo biloba may help this condition by broadening the small blood vessels, which keep these spasms from totally blocking the blood flow.

13. Heart Health

Ginkgo biloba extract is extremely beneficial for lowering blood pressure and eliminating of blood clots throughout the cardiovascular system. These two effects, when combined, can be a major boost to heart health, as dilating blood vessels reduced the strain on the heart, while the anti-clotting capability considerably decreases the chances of suffering from a heart attack or stroke.(7)

14. Helps Treat Headaches and Migraines

Regular consumption of Ginkgo might be an effective way to naturally cure frequent headaches and decrease the rate and severity of migraines since it decreases pain, increases blood vessel dilation and combats stress that all trigger an attack. Headaches are caused by alcohol or drugs, allergies, stress, fatigue, hormones, eyestrain, constipation, poor posture, low blood sugar and nutritional deficiencies. The amazing benefits that ginkgo has on stress and fatigue goes hand in hand with its capability to decrease headache tension.

15. Nervous System

Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) seems to exert an optimistic effect on the nervous system, speeding up reaction time and lowering chances of nervous disorders. This combination of chemicals and compounds is not found in any other plants, which is why many of the purported health benefits of ginkgo biloba are somewhat mysterious and hard to “prove”, as there are no other types of plants on which to test comparative hypotheses. Reductions in symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Raynaud’s disease have both been shown to be linked to ginkgo biloba consumption.(8)

16. Cancer Prevention

Ginkgo biloba consists of high level of antioxidant  including the rich variety of terpenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenolic compounds, all combine to remove free radicals throughout the body, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that attack healthy cells and either cause apoptosis or mutation into cancerous cells. With such a diverse range of antioxidants, ginkgo biloba help to keep the entire body protected from chronic disease, most remarkably cancer and heart disease, because free radicals weaken the blood vessels walls of the cardiovascular system.(9)

17. Anti-Aging

Ginkgo biloba is one of the wonderful anti-aging secret. While many of the claims are a bit hyperbolic, the antioxidants in GBE help the skin remain tight and healthy, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and other age spots, as well as helping to speed up wound healing and reduce the appearance of scars.(10)

18. Helps Prevent or Treat ADHD

Research that include ginkgo have found relief and improved concentration for people with ADHD symptoms. As it can improve concentration, memory and task performance, it can possibly also reduce symptoms in people with dyslexia.

While more research is still required, there’s also some earlier evidence that ginkgo help reduce behaviors and symptoms of autism, making it a possible autism natural treatment.

19. Improves Libido

It is said that ginkgo has positive effects on hormonal balance — particularly serotonin levels, blood pressure and circulation — therefore it might help people struggling with erectile dysfunction and low libido. Ginkgo has the potential to dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow to the genitals, which is essential for reproductive health.

Some research shows it’s potentially effective in treating antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction predominately caused by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

20. Lowers Symptoms of Asthma

Research has discovered ginkgo extract beneficial in reducing asthma-related symptoms. Since it lowers inflammation, improves antioxidant activity and has positive effects on nerve functioning, people have reported less trouble breathing when taking ginkgo.

21. Parkinson’s disease

Insufficient dopamine is supposed to produce the progressive stiffness, shaking and loss of muscle coordination typical in Parkinson’s disease. Doctor’s theories that along with other treatments, Ginkgo biloba may help symptoms by increasing the brain’s blood flow and thereby allowing more of the depleted dopamine to be circulated to the areas that need it most.

How to Eat

  • Peeled nuts (endosperms) are eaten roasted, baked, boiled in soups, porridge, stews, or fried in dishes with meat or other vegetables.
  • Ginkgo endosperms are popular in congee or herbal sweet-dessert soups, normally serves at birthdays, weddings and the lunar New Year as part of the famous vegetarian dish called Buddha’s Delight.
  • Japanese used the endosperm in dishes such as Chawanmushi and in other dishes.
  • Endosperms are available dried or canned whence it is sold as “White nuts” in many Asian grocery stores.
  • Roasted endosperms are savored in China and Japan and marketed widely in East Asia.
  • They are also used as spice particularly for fish dishes.
  • Seed can be consumed raw whilst another says that large quantities of the seed are toxic.
  • It needs to be heated or cooked before being eaten in order to destroy a slightly acrimonious compound.
  • Edible oil is obtained from the seed.

Other Traditional uses and benefits of Ginkgo biloba

  • Ginkgo has been used for centuries in traditional oriental medicine since ancient times.
  • Beside the seed, the leaves have lately been found to possess medicinally active and health promoting compounds.
  • Leaves have been used to stimulate the blood circulation and to tonify the brain, reduce lethargy, improve memory, mental fuzziness, and vertigo and to give an improved sense of well-being.
  • They were also found effective in improving peripheral arterial circulation to brain, heart, limbs, ears and eyes, in reducing cardiovascular risks and in treating hearing disorders such as tinnitus where these result from poor circulation or damage by free radicals.
  • The leaves contain ginkgolides, that inhibit allergic responses and so were used in treating disorders such as asthma, eye disorders cerebral insufficiency, senile dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and senility.
  • Ginkgo seed is antibacterial, antifungal, astringent, anticancer, digestive, expectorant, tonic, sedative, antitussive, astringent and vermifuge.
  • The kernel is macerated in vegetable oil for 100 days and then the pulp is used in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis, asthma, bronchitis coughs with thick phlegm urinary incontinence and stabilizes spermatogenesis.
  • It is used to eliminate damp heat, dampness and stops vaginal discharge in yeast infection.
  • The roots are used as a cure for leucorrhoea and the bark yields tannin.

Other Facts

  • Ginkgo tree is sacred to Buddhists and Taoists and is often planted near temples.
  • Tree is also planted as avenue trees or as landscape trees in parks.
  • The wood is light, soft and has insect repelling qualities and is used in furniture making.
  • Oil from the seed is used as a fuel in lighting.
  • A soap substitute is produced by mixing the pulp of the seed with oil or wine.
  • Leaves can be used as pesticides.


The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these causes, herbs should be taken carefully, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

Ginkgo usually has few side effects. In a few cases, people have described stomach upset, headaches, skin reactions, and dizziness.

There have been reports of interior bleeding in people who take ginkgo. It is unclear whether the bleeding was due to ginkgo or some other reason, such as a combination of ginkgo and blood-thinning drugs. Ask your doctor before taking ginkgo if you use blood-thinning drugs.

Stop taking ginkgo 1 to 2 weeks before surgery or dental procedures due to the risk of bleeding. Always alert your doctor or dentist that you take ginkgo.

People who have epilepsy should not take ginkgo, because it may cause seizures.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take ginkgo.

People who have diabetes should ask their doctor before taking ginkgo.






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