What Was That I Should Take For My Memory Again?

by in Herbal Medicine, Memory February 5, 2008

PhotobucketGingko is a medicinal herb from the leaves of the Gingko biloba or maidenhair tree. The gingko tree is an ancient plant, dating back at least 250 million years. It is the oldest living species of tree in the world and it survived to modern times only in the mountain forests of Eastern China. The tree itself can live as long as one thousand years.

Most often the herb is taken as a 50:1 standardized leaf extract—this means that 50 grams of dried gingko leaves have been processed down into 1 gram of extract in a way that preserves a standard amount of the constituents believed to be the most important medicinally (22-27% flavonoids glycosides, 5-7% terpene lactones including 2.8-3.4% ginkgolides, 2.6-3.2% bilobalide, and less than 5 parts per million ginkgolic acids).

Gingko is best known for its ability to increase blood flow to the brain and improve impaired memory and mental performance, especially in the elderly. However, gingko is one of the most researched herbs available, and it also has a number of other uses. It can decrease platelet aggregation and prevent strokes and other diseases related to emboli. It has been used for migraines, to delay the mental deterioration in early Alzheimer’s, and in treating tinnitus, vertigo and cochlear deafness. It is also used for diabetic retinopathy, retinal insufficiency, macular degeneration, cataracts, intermittent claudication, Raynaud’s disease, varicose veins, generalized peripheral arteriopathy, and erectile dysfunction. It can also decrease asthma symptoms.


Gingko leaf extract is very safe and its side effects are almost nonexistent. However, patients who are anticoagulant or antiplatelet medication such as Warfarin or aspirin should use gingko with caution. Along the same lines, gingko probably should not be used in cases of excessive bleeding or hemorrhagic disorders. It also may be contraindicated in anovulatory amenorrhea and infertility. Other drug interactions include possible potentiation of MAO inhibitors and papverine. Ginkgo can increase blood pressure used concomitantly with thiazide diuretics. The RAW leaf, stem and seed can cause GI discomfort, headache, dizziness, and in severe cases convulsions.  If you are on any medications or have any chronic health conditions you should check with your physician before starting the use of any herbal medicine such as Ginkgo.

1. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Eclectic Medical Publications, Sandy OR, 1998.
2. Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Churchill Livingstone, New York, NY, 1999.
3. Jellin JM, Batz F, Hitchens, K. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; 1999: pg. 419-421.
4. Pizzorno J., et. al., The Textbook of Natural Medicine, 2nd Edition. Churchill Livingstone, New York, NY, 2000.
5. Tilgner S. Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth. Wise Acres Press, Creswell, OR, 1999.

  1. […] biloba 120mg standardized extract. Ginkgo biloba is fabulous for the ciruclatory system, and is also helpful for vision, memory, and […]

  2. Is it safe to take gingko along with fish oil? I wanted to be sure not to get too much “blood thinner” effect. I’m a 53 year old female.

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