Does ginkgo biloba help memory? Buddhist monks have been using it to improve mental focus for centuries, but are these claims supported by scientific research?
Memory loss is a common issue as we age, and can also be caused by chronic stress.
In fact, younger folks are experiencing issues with recall more and more these days.
If you’re looking for a natural solution to this problem, I think your best option is an herbal nootropic; Ginkgo Biloba.
You might be asking, how does Ginkgo Biloba work? Is it really my best option?
Let’s find out…
What is Ginkgo Biloba?
Ginkgo Biloba is commonly known as the ‘Maidenhair Tree’, and the earliest fossils of maidenhair trees date back to about 270 million years ago.
The leaves of the Ginkgo tree are typically grown on plantations in highly controlled conditions, and harvested to make extracts for various uses.
Extracts are the best way to take Ginkgo, because powders made out of the raw leaves are difficult to dose properly, and often prove less effective.
Ginkgo extracts are available in capsules, tablets, tinctures, and are often added to energy drinks.
A good ginkgo extract will be standardized to contain enough active ingredients to provide the desired benefits. Standard specifications are as follows:
- Flavone Glycosides – 24% or more
- Terpenes – 6% or more
The most commonly used extract is EGb 761, which was originally developed by Dr. Willmar Schwabe in Germany in the early 1990’s.
This extract is commonly known as either Tebonin or Rokan in Germany, but has various brand names in other countries as well.
If you’re a bit of a nerd like me, you can find out more about EGb761 by reading this report from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Ginkgo Biloba Benefits
Buddhist monks have used ginkgo biloba for thousands of years to enhance overall cognition, attention, circulation, and mood.
In China and Germany, ginkgo is a prescription medication. Ginkgo is readily available, natural, and affordable.
Ginkgo has been shown to be particularly effective in slowing down the rate of mental decline in patients with dementia, Alzheimers’, and Parkinsons’ disease.
Healthy individuals can also benefit from its’ effects.
Need I say more?
These criteria make ginkgo a wonderful nootropic to be used for anyone feeling that they need help with their memory.
How does Ginkgo Biloba Help Memory?
Ginkgo improves cognitive abilities mainly by increasing cerebral blood flow.
It dilates blood vessels in the brain, thereby allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach our brain cells.
The reason older folks often see a decline in their memory is because the blood vessels in our brain shrink and get narrower as we age.
Our energy metabolism also slows down, reducing reaction times and attention span. This is why we’ve all heard of people ‘slowing down’ as we get older.
But ginkgo has other beneficial effects too.
Ginkgo is very effective as a free radical scavenger, so it has protective effects as an antioxidant.
The brain will often accumulate metabolic waste as a by-product of its’ regular activities.
Increased blood flow to the brain, as well as the natural antioxidative effects of ginkgo, help to flush out these toxins.
This has a chain reaction.
The brain starts to function faster when it’s cleaner, and studies have shown that regular supplementation with ginkgo results in faster reaction times, and a greater sense of alertness.
Clinical trials have proven that dopamine levels go up with regular ginkgo supplementation, and the efficiency of other neurotransmitters in the brain is also enhanced.
As a result, it’s common for users to experience improvements in mood and energy level.
Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects – What’s a Safe Dosage?
Generally speaking, a safe dosage for ginkgo is in the range of 120-360 mg/day.
A good ginkgo supplement will be standardized to the specifications of EGb 761, with at least 24% Flavone Glycosides and 6% Terpenes.
The dosage notes on the bottle should be aiming to provide you with 120-180 mg/day for best results.
Obviously, any supplement labelled ‘Organic’ or ‘Non-GMO’ is also a better product.
Getting into the topic of possible side effects, ginkgo is quite safe, but because it increases blood circulation in the brain, there are a few simple precautions you should take.
Anyone taking blood thinning medications should consult their doctor before using ginkgo supplements, or avoid using it altogether.
This includes any other herbal products, so watch out for possible interactions.
Ginkgo should also not be used during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding. The overall effects of taking ginkgo when with child have not been researched adequately yet to confirm that it’s safe.
Ginkgo can alter insulin secretion, so anyone with diabetes should consult with their doctor before taking any ginkgo products.
There have also been some cases where ginkgo has had an effect on people taking seizure medications, so you need to be aware of that as well.
What is Ginkgo Biloba Good for? – Final Comments
So does ginkgo biloba help memory?
I think it’s a common perception out in the world that ginkgo is either not effective, or mostly used by older folks to ward off mental decline.
The truth is that ginkgo has stood the test of time as a natural nootropic.
It’s currently being studied for use as a possible remedy for dementia, Alzheimers’, and Parkinsons’ disease.
Not effective? I don’t think so.
When I was a college student back in the day, I used ginkgo for exams. It was my favorite ‘go to’ supplement because of its’ affordability, accessibility, and efficacy.
It definitely helped me get through a few cram sessions.
We’ve also seen a lot of younger people having problems with their memory and other cognitive capacities in recent years.
This can be due to stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, or a combination of several factors.
In any case, ginkgo is not just a possible solution for the elderly, but for the young as well.
I also have to point out that I love ginkgo as a nootropic because it’s a natural substance. Mother Nature owns the patent on this baby, and I like it that way!
Prescription medications scare me a little, and that’s my own prejudice.
But I don’t mind telling you, if a natural compound can do the same thing as a man-made product, I’m going to use the natural option 100% of the time.
That’s just me, but I know there are a lot of you out there that feel the same way.
So at the end of the day, I think ginkgo is a good natural supplement for memory loss whether you are young or old. Healthy, or dealing with a degenerative condition.
The question you need to ask yourself is this: Do you want to see improvement in your memory, alertness, energy, and mood?
If the answer is yes, then it’s a good bet that ginkgo could work for you, and it won’t break your pocket book either!
Well, that’s about all I have for you on ginkgo biloba. Thanks for reading.
In my next post, I’ll be discussing whether or not rhodiola rosea benefits brain function enough to be considered a bona-fide nootropic.
If you’re interested in herbal nootropics, this next post is for you!
Don’t miss it!
P.S. – If you or anybody you know has been having issues with memory or general mental decline, and you think ginkgo biloba could help them out, please post a comment below.
I absolutely love hearing about nootropics turning something around for people!