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Ginkgo, Maidenhair tree

Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD

Scientific Name:

Ginkgo biloba L.

Other Common Name:

Maidenhair tree

Parts of the plant used:

The leaves are used medicinally in western scientific herbalism (phytotherapy). The “seed” (ovule) is used both for cooking and medicine in many countries of the Orient; although under certain circumstances it may be toxic.

How is it used?

In the Western market, Ginkgo preparations are usually available as extracts, capsules or tinctures made from the leaves. The “seed” is not used.

What is it used for?

Ginkgo standardized extracts have been used with varying grades of success for the treatment of various ailments and disorders including: Cerebral insufficiency and memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, intermittent claudication (a circulatory problem involving the limbs), impotence or erectile dysfunction of vascular origin, asthma, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), diabetes and related circulatory disorders, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Ginkgo extracts may also offer a good option for the prevention and treatment of high altitude sickness (hypoxia). The commercial extracts do not include the poisonous principles contained in the seeds or ovules.


Safety / Precautions


  • Avoid taking ginkgo during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Although with normal therapeutic dosages, the risk of bleeding is uncommon, ginkgo preparations should be used with caution in patients with any type of bleeding disorders.
  • Due to the fact that Ginkgo preparations delay blood clotting, suspend ingestion of this herb product at least 36 hours before you plan to undergo surgery.
  • Avoid using together with therapeutic amounts of other herbs that may potentially interfere with blood coagulation, such as Garlic, Uña de gato (“Cat’s claw”), Dong Quai (Chinese Angelica) or ginger.
  • Avoid taking ginkgo preparations with any medications that thin the blood, such as aspirin, for example. Consult with your physician.

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication: Always be on the safe side!