Ginkgo is an herb. The leaves are generally used to make “extracts” that are used as medicine. However, a few medicines are made from the seed, but these are not well studied.
Ginkgo is often used for memory disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used for conditions that seem to be due to reduced blood flow in the brain, especially in older people. These conditions include memory loss, headache, ringing in the ears, vertigo, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and hearing disorders. Some people use it for other problems related to poor blood flow in the body, including leg pain when walking (claudication), and Raynaud’s syndrome (a painful response to cold, especially in the fingers and toes).
How does it work?
Ginkgo seems to improve blood circulation, which might help the brain, eyes, ears, and legs function better. It may slow down Alzheimer’s disease by interfering with changes in the brain that interfere with thinking.
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Some evidence shows that taking ginkgo leaf extract by mouth modestly improves symptoms of Alzheimer’s, vascular, or mixed dementias. However, there are concerns that findings from many of the early ginkgo studies may not be reliable. Although most clinical trials show ginkgo helps for symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, there are some conflicting findings, suggesting it may be hard to determine which people might benefit.
- For dementia syndromes: a dosage of 120-240 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract, divided in two or three doses.
- For cognitive function improvement in healthy young people: dosages of 120-600 mg per day.
- For Raynaud’s disease: a dosage of 360 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract, divided into three doses.
- For walking pain due to poor circulation (claudication, peripheral vascular disease): a dosage of 120-240 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract, divided into two or three doses, has been used; however, the higher dose may be more effective.
- For vertigo: dosages of 120-160 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract, divided into two or three doses.
- For premenstrual syndrome (PMS): 80 mg twice daily, starting on the sixteenth day of the menstrual cycle until the fifth day of the next cycle.
- For the treatment of normal tension glaucoma: ginkgo leaf extract 40 mg 3 times daily up to four weeks.
For all uses, start at a lower dose of not more than 120 mg per day to avoid gastrointestinal (GI) side effects.