The nootropic that has had the most mainstream success is ginkgo biloba. As a natural cognitive enhancing drug with thousands of years of use, there is ample evidence to suggest it is an effective option for beginners or enthusiasts. Yet, is it as great as its popularity would have you believe?
According to scientific literature, the answer is “yes”. Ginkgo biloba, originally from traditional Chinese medicine, is as reliable for preventing cognitive decline as some prescription medications . There are numerous studies that show ginkgo biloba increases memory in healthy adults .
Often referred to as “maidenhair tree”, this natural nootropic compound is one of the top 10 most popular dietary supplements in the western world . This is a result of the extensive scientific literature and the few side effects.
Also Known As
Tanakan, Tebonin, Rökan, Maidenhair
Editors’ Thoughts on Ginkgo Biloba
I have never taken ginkgo biloba for an extended period so I cannot say whether this is useful for preventing memory loss or neurological decline. Quite frankly, I have good memory as it is so I don’t often opt for that type of nootropic.
However, I can attest to the ubiquitous nature of ginkgo biloba and popularity. One roommate many years ago knew nothing about health and chose to eat terribly, but still took ginkgo biloba daily. Not sure it was an incredible methodology for brain health, but it stuck with me how popular the supplement was.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
History of Ginkgo Biloba
Our Chinese ancestors had much success experimenting with their natural world and producing medicinal solutions to many of their ailments. Traditional Chinese medicine is filled with examples of native plants and herbs that were harvested, tested, and in some cases even manipulated in order to optimize aspects of life. Ginkgo biloba is one of the more popular of these solutions.
While the fruits and seeds of the plant have been used for thousands of years, the earliest recording of ginkgo biloba leaf extract was 1505 AD . Considering the leaf extract was being used over 500 years ago is unfathomable compared to many of the modern and synthetic drugs that are currently on the market. It is obvious the Chinese both believed in the enhancing properties of ginkgo biloba and invested in improving the efficacy.
Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba
The benefits of ginkgo biloba are almost too many to list. The hundreds of studies on the subject make it one of the most studied nootropics and it is highly consumed in both the western world and in Asia.
One major benefit of ginkgo is that it aids against cognitive decline. The evidence suggests that it is useful at 240 – 360 mg per day for any individual who is already experiencing some cognitive decline . Other studies show efficacy at lower doses. The interesting thing about many of these studies is that they have large cohorts of hundreds of people as opposed to small sample sizes .
Another ginkgo biloba benefit, similar to the cognitive decline, is with regard to memory. Instead of simply preventing memory and cognition from getting any worse, ginkgo biloba helps to improve short term memory and free recall . This is often touted as the main benefit of supplementing with ginkgo biloba.
A slow of other benefits include working memory (often tested separately from memory in general), stroke recovery, sleep quality, and subjective well-being. People who have any kind of head trauma or brain injury notice a significant increase in their mood and levels of happiness with ginkgo biloba .
Finally, one thing ginkgo biloba is not known for (but should be) is the increased attention and concentration. One study showed that ginkgo biloba extract can reduce symptoms of ADHD in children at a low dose of 80 – 120 mg. While the study claims it was not as effective as Ritalin , that is to be expected given the latter is a prescription amphetamine! With a higher dosage of ginkgo, it might be possible to find comparable solutions to amphetamines for children who are suffering from ADHD.
How Does Ginkgo Biloba Work?
Like many other nootropic compounds, ginkgo biloba has specific psychoactive ingredients native to the plant. These are often extracted from the leaf and provided for supplementation. In the case of ginkgo biloba the psychoactive ingredients are:
- Gingkolides A, B, and C
Now you can see where the name comes from! These psychoactive compounds interact and modulate different regions of the brain giving the benefits mentioned above.
Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects
Most reports of ginkgo biloba have relatively few side effects, but the usual concerns exist with any kind of extract or abnormal plant matter. Some people complain side effects of ginkgo biloba include nausea or other gastrointestinal distress.
In very rare occurrences, one ingredient of ginkgo biloba (ginkgolide B) can he associated of subdural hematomas . This was related to a specific study, but for obvious reasons the findings were not followed-up en masse. This was a rare finding and given that millions of people use this supplement daily, is probably not a health concern.
Ginkgo Biloba Dosage
Ginkgo biloba is known for so many things, your desired outcome or goal will change the dosage that you use. For example, people that want to improve their cognitive abilities might opt for a dosage of 120 – 240 mg around 1 – 4 hours before it is time to perform (whether it is a big meeting, test, etc.).
Those that want a ginkgo biloba dosage for preventing cognitive decline can opt for a smaller dose of 40 – 120 mg three times per day. It will all depend on the goals you have and which ginkgo biloba purchase you make as most products are in capsule form.
Also, it is important to note that ginkgo biloba has many positive interactions with other nootropics. For instance, ginkgo biloba and panax ginseng work well (some might say synergistically even) to improve memory formation and learning .
How and Where to Buy Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba, while extremely popular, can be complicated to purchase. EGb-761 is a type of standardized ginkgo biloba extract that is produced with very specific percentages of the psychoactive ingredients. However, there are variations to be aware of when looking too deeply on the internet or in your nearby brick and mortar supplement shop.
In general, most of the ginkgo biloba that you are going to find available for consumers is going to be standardized. You will most often find the Bikbo Biloba EGb-761 extract, which is concentrated with a ratio of 50:1.
Your best bet is to buy ginkgo biloba online because it makes it much easier to compare products and speak about the vendor you have purchased from. Oftentimes, you’ll find that the vendor you are looking through has ginkgo biloba reviews online that can help you to make a better decision.
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