Gingko Biloba

Can be found in our Memory Mate product.

Herbal Medicine Materia Medica: Gingko Biloba

David Hoffmann L. BSc (Hons), MNIMH ©


An abundance of research has been undertaken on this ancient plant, revealing a wide range of profound and important therapeutic effects. They can be grouped into cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic effects. Here we shall focus on the cardiovascular indications. Please refer to the sections on the nervous system and immune support for a review of the rest of Ginkgo's uses.

Laboratory research on Ginkgo's cardiovascular effects

  • In one test, microscopic particles were injected into the carotid artery of rats, mimicking arterial blockage. Ginkgo protected the unfortunate animals from the destructive effects.
  • Increased levels of glucose and ATP were found, thus helping to maintain energy levels within individual cells.
  • It reduced the tendency for thrombus formation in veins and arteries, suggesting a use in the prevention of coronary thrombosis and in recovery from strokes and heart attacks.
  • Following injections there may be a hypertensive response, damaging the blood-brain barrier. Initially only small molecules pass the barrier, but eventually larger substances cross over causing cerebral edema. Ginkgo used in the initial stages prevents the later stages developing. Stabilizing the membranes of the blood-brain barrier which are thought to involve a direct impact on ionic balance across the membranes and an indirect effect on intracellular respiration, lessening cerebral edema and restoring function.

Clinical research

  • Patients with organic and neurological angiopathy were observed for physiological changes resulting from exercise, after using Ginkgo. Results indicate it would be useful in central and peripheral vascular disease, including diabetic angiopathy.
    • It lowered blood pressure and dilated peripheral blood vessels, in patients recovering from thrombosis.
    • Microcirculation in the conjunctiva of patients with disturbances in cerebral blood supply consistently increased. Capillary and venous blood flow to the head increased because of decreased resistance to flow occurred. A toning action occurs as it eases venular spasms that often occur in elderly and arteriosclerotic patients. The herb can combat both vascular spasm and restore tone and circulation in areas subject to vasomotor paralysis.
    • It increases peripheral blood flow with no lessening of cerebral circulation. Chemical vaso-dilators accumulate in the expanded vessels rather than circulate to the veins that feed the central nervous system. Ginkgo, however, increasing blood flow to both the periphery and the brain.
    • In patients with peripheral arterial insufficiency improvement in all experimental measures, including the ability to walk without pain and blood flow to the legs.
    • In Parkinson's disease secondary to cerebral arteriosclerosis, the herb increased blood supply to the brain.
    • 65% successful treatment of focal or diffuse cerebral vascular disease.
    • 80% successful treatment of cerebral circulatory insufficiency, measured as improvement in mental functioning, EEG parameters, and cerebral angiogram.
    • 80% success rate in patients with chronic cerebral insufficiency measured by symptoms such as vertigo, headache.
    • 92% success rate in patients with cerebrovascular insufficiency and all pathological findings disappeared after 18 days of treatment.
    • 80% success in treating headache and lesser per cent success in case of migraine.
    • 40% success in elderly patients with arterial insufficiency of lower limbs.
    • 72% success in the treatment of chronic vasculopathies.
    • Successful treatment of chronic arterial obliteration.

Therapeutic Uses

Ginkgo has wide application for treating various forms of vascular and neurological disease. It has been recommended for:

  • vertigo, headache, tinnitus, inner ear disturbances including partial deafness
  • impairment of memory and ability to concentrate
  • diminished intellectual capacity and alertness as a result of insufficient circulation
  • anxiety, depression, neurological disorders : complications of stroke and skull injuries
  • diminished sight and hearing ability due to vascular insufficiency
  • intermittent claudication as a result of arterial obstruction
  • a sensitivity to cold and pallor in the toes due to peripheral circulatory insufficiency
  • Raynaud's disease: cerebral vascular and nutritional insufficiency
  • hormonal and neural based disorders as well as angiopathic trophic disorders
  • arterial circulatory disturbances due to aging, diabetes and nicotine abuse
  • sclerosis of cerebral arteries with and without mental manifestations
  • arteriosclerotic angiopathy of lower limbs
  • diabetic tissue damage with danger of gangrene : chronic arterial obliteration
  • Circulatory disorders of the skin, as well as ulcerations caused by ischaemia.