Ginkgo biloba, dubbed the “living fossil,” is nature’s ultimate brain booster

Ginkgo biloba, often called the maidenhair tree, is dubbed “the living fossil.” It has survived for more than 200 million years virtually unchanged, a testament to the resilience of nature. However, this tree renowned for its ancient properties has also earned a reputation throughout history as a powerful plant that boosts brain health.

Writing for the Epoch Times, acupuncture physician Emma Suttie outlined the benefits of ginkgo biloba for the brain. It reportedly improves memory and overall cognitive function. Moreover, it has also been shown to help address various issues such as anxiety, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. (Related: Ginkgo biloba shows potential value in the treatment of over 100 diseases.)

The potency of ginkgo biloba lies in its diverse array of phytonutrients and bioactive components. One study published April 2020 in the journal Molecules elaborated on how the plant’s antioxidant compounds address damage to brain cells caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.

According to the paper, the phytochemicals in ginkgo biloba regulate the release of neutrotransmitters – chemical messengers that allow communication between neurons and other cells in the body. These neurotransmitters play crucial roles in various functions such as cognition, mood regulation and muscle movement.

In their role as “neuroexocytosis regulators,” the compounds in ginkgo biloba leaves act like traffic controllers that either speed up or slow down the release of these messengers. This regulation could potentially affect brain functions, such as attention, memory and mood.

Science-backed health benefits of ginkgo biloba

Aside from the April 2020 study in Molecules, Healthline also published several noteworthy benefits of ginkgo biloba backed by science. Here are some of them.

Brain function

Ginkgo biloba has garnered attention for its purported ability to support cognitive function. Studies suggest that its antioxidant properties may help combat age-related cognitive decline and enhance concentration and memory.

Alzheimer’s disease management

Research indicates that ginkgo biloba may offer therapeutic potential in Alzheimer’s disease management. It is believed to improve cerebral blood flow, promote neuronal plasticity and mitigate oxidative stress, thereby aiding in the preservation of cognitive function.

In individuals experiencing cognitive impairment, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia, ginkgo biloba supplementation has shown promise in facilitating immediate cognitive recovery. Its ability to widen blood vessels may enhance cerebral circulation, leading to improved cognitive performance.

Cognitive function

Preliminary findings from a study presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2024 suggest that individuals who have experienced ischemic (clot-caused) stroke may exhibit improved early recovery of cognitive function when treated with intravenous injections containing a combination of biologically active components derived from ginkgo biloba within the initial two weeks post-stroke, Science Daily reported.

Psychiatric disorders

Among the spectrum of psychiatric disorders scrutinized, dementia emerged as the subject of extensive investigation–with notable findings from the meta-analysis of eight studies indicating significant disparities between ginkgo biloba and placebo. These disparities manifested in favorable outcomes encompassing improvements in cognition and activities of daily living, underscoring the potential therapeutic efficacy of ginkgo biloba in dementia management.

In addition, available evidence has lent support to the use of ginkgo biloba in chronic schizophrenia, particularly in its capacity to ameliorate positive psychotic symptoms. While no significant impact on negative symptoms was discerned, the observed beneficial effects on positive symptoms are noteworthy.

Scientists acknowledge that the beneficial effects of ginkgo biloba on dementia and chronic schizophrenia are moderate in magnitude. However, recent clinical trials have positioned ginkgo biloba on par with donepezil, a widely prescribed pharmacological agent in dementia treatment. This equivalence potentially advocates for the inclusion of ginkgo biloba as a viable therapeutic option–especially considering the limited pharmacological alternatives available for dementia management.

It’s worth mentioning that in the context of schizophrenia, ginkgo biloba is typically used as an adjunctive therapy rather than a primary intervention. Hence, even a marginal improvement could hold significant value. Notably, across all trials, ginkgo biloba exhibited an exemplary safety profile, further endorsing its candidacy as a therapeutic adjunct in psychiatric care.

Headaches and migraines

Rich in antioxidants, ginkgo biloba has been suggested to improve blood flow by neutralizing free radicals in the body and promoting vasodilation, which is the widening of blood vessels. By enhancing blood flow to the brain, it may help reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches and migraines, which can be triggered by restricted blood flow in certain regions of the brain.

Ginkgo biloba has been studied for its potential neuroprotective effects, which may help protect nerve cells in the brain from damage. Some headaches and migraines are associated with neurological factors, and ginkgo biloba’s neuroprotective properties could potentially address these underlying causes.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating mood and pain perception. Imbalances in serotonin levels have been implicated in migraines. Some studies suggest that ginkgo biloba may modulate serotonin levels, which could contribute to its ability to alleviate headache and migraine symptoms.

How to use ginkgo biloba

Consider the following guidelines on the best ways to take ginkgo biloba as a nutritional supplement or to achieve other therapeutic goals:

  • Consult with your healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. They can provide personalized guidance based on your individual health needs. While numerous studies suggest potential health benefits of ginkgo biloba, individual responses to ginkgo biloba can vary.
  • When selecting a ginkgo biloba supplement, opt for a reputable brand that provides standardized extracts with reliable potency and purity. Look for products that have been independently tested for quality and safety.
  • Follow the recommended dosage instructions provided on the supplement packaging or as advised by your healthcare provider. It’s important not to exceed the recommended dosage, as excessive intake may lead to adverse effects.
  • Like many herbal supplements, the effects of ginkgo biloba may take time to manifest. Be patient and consistent with your supplementation regimen, and allow sufficient time for the effects to be noticeable.
  • Some people find it beneficial to take ginkgo biloba with meals to enhance absorption, while others prefer taking it on an empty stomach. Experiment with different timing options to see what works best for you.
  • While ginkgo biloba is generally well-tolerated by most people, some individuals may experience side effects, such as allergic reactions, gastrointestinal discomfort or headaches. Be mindful of how ginkgo biloba interacts with other medicines you are taking, including blood thinners, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. If you are taking any medications, discuss potential interactions with your healthcare provider before taking ginkgo biloba supplementation.
  • Combine taking Ginkgo biloba with healthy lifestyle practices While ginkgo biloba may offer potential benefits for brain health and overall well-being, it’s important to complement supplementation with other healthy lifestyle practices. This includes maintaining a balanced diet, staying physically active, managing stress levels, getting adequate sleep, and engaging in mental stimulation activities.

Check out for more stories like this.

Find out how ginkgo biloba benefits brain health in the video below.

This video is from the Holistic Herbalist channel on

Bioactive compounds in GINKGO BILOBA found to improve cognitive recovery after stroke.

Ginkgo biloba promotes better blood flow and a healthy brain.

Ginkgo biloba found to have neuroprotective effects against retina degeneration.

Sources include: 1 2

Submit a correction >>