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A closer look at ginkgo biloba

A closer look at ginkgo biloba

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Ginkgo biloba has a long history of medicinal use and is a popular herb to help improve memory. Kate Ferguson takes a closer look at how this ancient herb may help boost brain power along with its other health benefits.

Ginkgo biloba is one of the world’s oldest living trees. It’s been around for more than 200 million years, earning itself the nickname ‘the living fossil’.  Ginkgo is native to China, where it survived the last ice age, and has been used traditionally for respiratory complaints and memory. Its medicinal use in China dates back to 2800 B.C.

Ginkgo was introduced to Europe by the German botanist Englebert Kaempfer in 1690 and today it is now one of the most popular medicinal herbs prescribed, particularly in Germany and France.

Ginkgo at a glance

Name: Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo, Maidenhair tree)
Part used: Leaf
Actions: antioxidant, circulatory stimulant, anti-inflammatory
Conditions used for: improve memory and cognitive function, poor circulation, tinnitus
How to take it: Ginkgo can be taken as a tablet, tincture (liquid), or as a tea
Where do I find it: From a naturopath or herbalist, health food store and in pharmacies.

Ginkgo for brain health

One of the main reasons people use ginkgo is to help support the health of the brain. Difficulty in concentration and memory, absent-mindedness and poor energy are symptoms associated with a syndrome called cerebral insufficiency. Ginkgo may help to improve symptoms of cerebral insufficiency as it may improve blood flow and cell oxygenation.

Poor circulation

Not only does ginkgo help to improve blood flow to the brain but it may also help to assist peripheral circulation. Ginkgo may help to relieve intermittent claudication (pain or cramping in the calf muscle due to poor blood flow and oxygenation of the muscle).

Ringing in the ears

Tinnitus is ringing in the ears. There are many causes of tinnitus including poor circulation to the head. Where circulation is impaired ginkgo may help to minimise the irritation of tinnitus.

Some other possible uses of ginkgo that have been investigated include altitude (mountain) sickness and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

How ginkgo works

Ginkgo’s main active components are the flavone glycosides and terpenoids- ginkgolides and bilobalide. The mix of active compounds in ginkgo is related to its therapeutic actions including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and vascular effects.

References available on request

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I'm currently undertaking a Science undergraduate and exam season is creeping up! Because of my scientific background, I'm very curious, where can I find the references which you are quoting from?!! Thanks so much.
Is there a difference between Ginkgo Forte 2000 (sold in Malaysia, versus the product known as Ginkgoforte on the Australian website? TQ
Hi Byron, Blackmores has 3 main products with Ginkgo biloba. This is to provide a range of products to address various health concerns. Ginkgo is found on its own in a clinical dose in Blackmores Ginkgoforte, in combination with Brahmi in Blackmores Ginkgo brahmi, and in Blackmores Tebonin in a clinical dose that may help manage symptoms of tinnitus. Byron, I hope this is helpful, thanks, Danielle (Blackmores Naturopath)
Can you please explain the different Ginkgo products - why are there so many different Blackmores choices?
Anonymous 05 Jan 2015
Dear Jenny,
I am sorry to hear about your son’s tinnitus.
Tinnitus may occur as a result of exposure to loud noise, excessive wax in the ear, ear infection, a hole in the eardrum, certain medications, high blood pressure, allergy, anemia or an interruption to blood flow to the head area.
Identifying the trigger of the tinnitus and removing aggravating factors may help to reduce the symptoms. It is important that your son consult with a healthcare professional in order to identify and treat underlying health conditions which may be causing the condition.
You may find some helpful information in this article:
Some nutrients that have been seen to be helpful with tinnitus include: magnesium phosphate, potassium phosphate, and B group vitamins. The herb Ginkgo biloba may also be of help.
Diet wise a low fat, low salt, high fibre diet focusing on whole, unprocessed foods, incorporating fresh vegetables and fruit, adequate protein, whole grains and cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds is helpful. Undertaking some exercise on a daily basis is necessary for general health.
I hope this information has been helpful Jenny and I hope your son’s condition improves.
If you would like any more advice please contact the Blackmores Naturopathic Advisory service on 1800-803-760 or email us at
Kindest regards,
Rebekah (a Blackmores naturopath)
I would like to find out about natural products which could help my son,aged 34, who has suffered from tinnitus for a few years now.
Thank you for your help with this.
Anonymous 15 Nov 2012