Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo), a herb supplement has been hailed "the most important single development in Western Herbal Medicine" in recent years. Ginkgo extract, which entered the market in Germany in 1982, is registered for treatment of several diseases and is now used by more than 10 million Europeans annually. It is also government approved and is covered by insurance and the German national health care system (1).
Gingko contains flavonoids and terpenoids -- two phytochemicals known to have healing and antioxidant properties. Today ginkgo is mostly used to help treat circulation problems, boost mood, tinnitus and enhance memory and concentration (in the case of dementia or Alzheimer's).
A recent review has been published on Aug 2015 looking at efficacy of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761® in dementia with behavioural and psychological symptoms (BPSD). The pooled analyses provide evidence of efficacy of EGb 761® at a daily dose of 240 mg in the treatment of out-patients suffering from Alzheimer's, vascular or mixed dementia with BPSD (2). In fact EGb 761® is one of the anti-dementia drugs with proven benefits and is recommended by international guidelines for the symptomatic treatment of dementia (3). It preserves and improves mitochondrial function and energy metabolism, promotes hippocampal neurogenesis and neuroplasticity and enhances cerebral blood flow by decreasing blood viscosity (4).
For patients who have memory problems and dementia, the recommended dosage of ginkgo is 120 to 240 mg daily taken in two to three doses. While the dosage in patients with tinnitus and peripheral vascular disease is no more than 160 mg per day and should be taken in two or three doses. An initial period of 6 to 12 weeks is recommended to assess the effectiveness of ginkgo, although results have been as early as 4 weeks. It is important to speak to your health care provider before taking ginkgo as ginkgo anti-seizure medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, antihypertensives and antidepressants. Although it is generally safe, it is not recommended in pregnant and breastfeeding mums.
1. Freeman L. Mosby’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine. A Research-Based Approach. Mosby, Inc., 2004: p. 455-460
2: von Gunten A, Schlaefke S, Überla K. Efficacy of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb761(®) in dementia with behavioural and psychological symptoms: A systematic review. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2015 Aug 27:1-12. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26223956.
3. Janssen IM, Sturtz S, Skipka G, Zentner A, Velasco Garrido M, Busse R. Ginkgo biloba in Alzheimer's disease: a systematic review. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2010 Dec;160(21-22):539-46. doi: 10.1007/s10354-010-0844-8. Review. Erratum in: Wien Med Wochenschr. 2011 Feb;161(3-4):104. Garrido, Marcial V [corrected to Velasco Garrido, Marcial]. PubMed PMID: 21170694.
4. Müller WE, Heiser J, Leuner K. 2012. Effects of the standardized Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761® on neuroplasticity. Int Psychogeratr 24(Suppl 1):S21–24.
Dr Nicole Ng (MBBS) is a medical doctor with a passion in women's health and medical research