Ginkgo biloba is a known herbal medicine that has existed for a very long time. It has been used by the Chinese as a traditional medicine thousands of years ago. Its effectiveness has been long recognized and is now widely used. Its life is approximated to reach one thousand years. Both the Ginkgo biloba’s short branches and fan-shaped leaves are used as traditional medicine. Even its inedible fruit is also used as medicine however it can be poisonous when eaten. Nowadays, research is focused on the herbal plant’s extract. The leave’s extract is said to be more effective as it is more concentrated. Among the various compounds that were discovered from the plant’s extracts, two compounds stand out. The active components of the plant are the two potent anti-oxidants flavonoids (Flavone Glycoside) and terpenoids (Terpene Lactones). More researches are still being made to discover more of the plant’s indications, side effects and special precautions.
What is Ginkgo biloba used for?
From different researches and experiments made, among the known uses of Ginkgo biloba are:
- Cerebral insufficiency, intermittent claudication and Reynaud’s Syndrome. Studies show that Ginkgo biloba works by improving blood circulation. This then helps improve circulation to the brain. It also allows people with intermittent claudication to walk further with less pain or no pain at all.
- Alzheimer’s and dementia. Researchers say that the herbal plant can help prevent the worsening of Alzheimer’s and dementia and help improve the memory and mental functions of people with the disease. However, there are also recent studies that it does not do so.
- Macular degeneration, glaucoma and tinnitus.
- Memory enhancer. The major component of some commercially available memory enhancers’ is Ginkgo biloba.
- It helps prevent blood clots by inhibiting the platelets to aggregate.
- Helps decrease blood pressure.
- Helps alleviate allergy and reduce inflammation
- For relief of depression
- For the relief of premenstrual syndrome’s (PMS) symptoms.
- For improvement of sexual performance or sexual desire.
- For cosmetic purposes.
Common Ginkgo biloba side effects
Knowing the common side effects Ginkgo biloba is as important as knowing the plant’s indication and purposes.
- Bleeding. Knowing that one of Ginkgo biloba’s mechanisms of action is the inhibition of platelet aggregation, bleeding is very possible. Therefore, caution is given to those who are taking anticoagulants, NSAIDS, those with blood clotting problems and those who will undergo any surgery or teeth extraction.
- Stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, and constipation
- Dizziness and headache
- Allergic reaction and Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- Seizure. Special precaution is then given to those who have epilepsy and those taking anticonvulsant drugs.
- Kidney and liver damage. Special precaution to those who have known kidney and liver damage and those who are taking other drugs.
- Loss of consciousness
Side effects may vary according to the part of the plant that was used or taken. Most of the more severe side effects are related to the seeds. Death may also be a possible result of eating the Ginkgo biloba’s seed.
Ginkgo biloba side effects of on Children
There are no known specific side effects of Ginkgo biloba on children. However, the common side effects may be less tolerated by children and its effects may be worse compared to the adults. The difference between the adult dose and children’s dose should be known before curing the child with the plant or the plant’s extract. Children may suffer easily if dose is not adjusted.
Short term use is more favored. Make sure that the seed is out of the children’s reach for the child may eat the fruit.
Children with history of seizure or epilepsy should not be given the medication. Other studies claim that Ginkgo biloba may not be safe for children.
Ginkgo biloba side effects of on Men
Aside from the common side effects that are known, there are no specific side effects that are addressed to men. All the said side effects will be experienced by men when taken in high doses. Death, seizure and loss of consciousness may still happen to men if the fruit is eaten.
- Infertility. Higher dosage, as according to researches, can cause infertility among when. Special caution is then applied when you are trying to have a child.
Ginkgo biloba side effects on Women
As the same case with men, there are no specific side effects addressed to women only aside from those common side effects. Exception is given to those women who are pregnant who may have early labor.
- Infertility. The same case with men, woman can be at risk for reduced fertility or infertility if high doses of Ginkgo biloba are consumed. Seek professional advice from physicians when you are trying to conceive with regards to using the herbal medicine and its commercially available preparations.
Ginkgo biloba side effects on Pregnant Women
- Bleeding. Ginkgo biloba may aggravate bleeding when pregnant women give birth thus causing excessive bleeding. Excessive bleeding may prove fatal to the mother.
- Early labor. The herbal plant may induce early labor among pregnant woman. Early labor may lead to fetal health problems especially if it causes the mother to have preterm birth. It can also cause the pregnant woman to bleed.
As to the nursing mothers, whether the ginkgo can be transferred to the baby through the milk or not, there are still no established side effects. Even if there are no solid researches available as proof, nursing mothers are still advised against taking Ginkgo biloba.
Pregnant mothers at the same time are advised against taking the herbal plant. Aside from its known side effects, there is no certainty that it will not cross the placenta and affect the fetus. Further studies are still being conducted on the plant’s effects on pregnancy, breast-feeding mothers and the fetus.
Ginkgo biloba side effects on Elderly
There are no known established side effects of Ginkgo biloba on the elderly population. Like the children, the elderly are more sensitive to the side effects of the herbal plant. The aging process will cause the elderly’s body to weaken so even though most of the common side effects of Ginkgo biloba are mild, the impact to them maybe worse.
Dizziness may cause the elderly to fall and hurt her or himself. The medication may also cause them to bleed and bruise easier.
Ginkgo may have drug interaction with other drugs as of the case with the elderly patient with Alzheimer’s disease who went to coma. The elderly patient was taking Ginkgo along with the anti-depressant medication, trazodone. Moreover, as more elderly are taking anti-hypertensive drugs for maintenance caution should be given for Ginkgo biloba can lower the blood pressure. This may cause the blood pressure to lower twice the desired pressure.