Generic Name: ginkgo (GINK goe)
Brand Name: Ginkgo Biloba, Gingko Biloba, Ginkgo
Medically reviewed on March 13, 2018
What is ginkgo?
Ginkgo is an herb also known as Ginkgo biloba, Abricot Argenté Japonais, Adiantifolia, Arbre aux Écus, Arbre du Ciel, Arbre Fossile, Bai Guo Ye, Baiguo, Extrait de Ginkgo, Fossil Tree, Graine de Ginkgo, Herba Ginkgo Biloba, Japanese Silver Apricot, Kew Tree, Maidenhair Tree, Noyer du Japon, Pei Go Su Ye, Salisburia Adiantifolia, Yen Xing, Yinhsing, and other names.
Ginkgo has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in improving mental function or treating anxiety, dementia, leg pain caused by blood circulation problems, premenstrual symptoms, vision problems caused by glaucoma or diabetes, vertigo (dizziness), or a movement disorder (tardive dyskinesia) caused by taking certain antipsychotic drugs.
Ginkgo has also been used to treat seasonal affective disorder, age-related memory loss, asthma, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, cocaine addiction, or sexual problems caused by taking antidepressants. However, research has shown that ginkgo may not be effective in treating these conditions.
Research has shown that ginkgo is not likely to be effective in treating heart disease.
Other uses not proven with research have included altitude sickness, macular degeneration (age-related vision loss), attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, vitiligo (discolored skin), migraines, bronchitis, digestion problems, urination problems, skin sores, high cholesterol, Raynaud's syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, blood clots, stroke, and cancer.
It is not certain whether ginkgo is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Ginkgo should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.
Ginkgo is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.
Ginkgo may also be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.
Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.
Before taking this medicine
Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider if it is safe for you to use this product if you have:
a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
any food allergies; or
if you are planning a pregnancy (ginkgo may affect your ability to get pregnant).
Ginkgo is considered possibly unsafe to take during pregnancy. This product could cause premature labor, or cause you to bleed heavily during childbirth. Do not use this product if you are pregnant.
Ginkgo may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.
How should I take ginkgo?
When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.
If you choose to use ginkgo, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.
Ginkgo leaf extract is thought to be likely safe when taken in recommended doses. Ginkgo seeds are possibly unsafe when taken by mouth after roasting them.
Fresh ginkgo seeds in raw form are poisonous and are considered likely unsafe to eat.
Do not use different forms (leaf extract, roasted seeds, tablets, tincture, teas, etc) of ginkgo at the same time without medical advice. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose.
Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with ginkgo does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.
Ginkgo can affect blood-clotting and may increase your risk of bleeding. If you need surgery, dental work, or a medical procedure, stop taking ginkgo at least 2 weeks ahead of time.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra ginkgo to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking ginkgo?
Avoid using ginkgo together with other herbal/health supplements that can also affect blood-clotting. This includes angelica (dong quai), capsicum, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, horse chestnut, panax ginseng, poplar, red clover, turmeric, and willow.
Avoid using ginkgo together with other herbal/health supplements that can increase your risk of seizures. This includes EDTA, folic acid, GBL (gamma butyrolactone), GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), glutamine, hyssop oil, juniper, L-carnitine (levocarnitine), melatonin, rosemary, sage, wormwood, and others.
Ginkgo side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using ginkgo and call your healthcare provider at once if you have:
easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum);
any bleeding that will not stop;
a seizure (convulsions); or
weak pulse, weak or shallow breathing, feeling like you might pass out.
Touching or handling ginkgo fruit pulp can cause a severe skin reaction including redness, swelling, blistering, and itching for up to 10 days.
In animal studies, ginkgo leaf extract increased the risk of thyroid cancer and liver cancer. However, very high doses are used in animal studies. It is not known whether these effects would occur in people using doses recommended for human use.
Common side effects may include:
fast or pounding heartbeats;
mouth irritation; or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect ginkgo?
Do not take ginkgo without medical advice if you are using a medication to treat any of the following conditions:
anxiety or depression;
asthma or allergies;
high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a heart condition;
a psychiatric disorder; or
Do not take ginkgo without medical advice if you are using any of the following medications:
insulin or oral diabetes medicine;
narcotic medicine; or
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with ginkgo, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this product guide.
- Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before using any herbal/health supplement. Whether you are treated by a medical doctor or a practitioner trained in the use of natural medicines/supplements, make sure all your healthcare providers know about all of your medical conditions and treatments.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
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