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What is Ginkgo Biloba?

2 min read

Ginkgo Biloba also known as the maidenhair tree, is a unique species of tree with no living relatives. Its history has been traced back nearly 300 million years making it the oldest surviving tree species on earth, which is why it’s often referred to as a living fossil. 

Research to date attributes the beneficial effects of Ginkgo Biloba extract primarily to two compounds:

  • Flavone glycosides - primarily responsible for Ginkgo's antioxidant effects.
  • Terpene lactones - believed to be responsible for Ginkgo's ability to increase blood circulation.

Gingko extract acts as a mild blood thinner

Flavonoid glycosides found within Ginkgo are believed to be responsible for its blood thinning effects. Thinner blood is able to move more easily throughout the body, therefore Ginkgo is thought to improve circulation through increased blood flow. Ginkgo Biloba may reduce symptoms of claudication - impairment in walking, or pain or discomfort in the legs caused by poor circulation. Compounds in Ginkgo Biloba appear to increase the distance that a person with peripheral vascular disease can walk before experiencing pain, and it may also reduce the need for surgery to treat this condition.

Another widespread circulatory issue Gingko is believed to help relieve is Reynaud’s disease - this is a condition where the blood flow to the hands is restricted, which makes the fingers cold and white. With Ginkgo's ability to help expand blood vessels and improve circulation, Gingko helps in providing increased blood supply to the extremities which would help relieve the symptoms of this condition.

Ginkgo has been found to increase blood flow to the retina

Gingko Biloba has been shown to be beneficial in some eye related issues like macular degeneration, retinopathy and glaucoma. Since these ailments relate to the pressure in the vessels in the eye, they have been known to reduce in intensity with regular consumption of Gingko extract. This is once more attributed to its ability to increase blood flow - in this case to the to the retina.

Ginkgo acts as an anti inflammatory

Gingko is considered to be an anti inflammatory, which works by interfering with inflammatory compounds when they are released. In a recent study Ginkgo was tested against the anti inflammatory drug diclofenac. Ginkgo and diclofenac were tested to see how they would treat inflammation and pain in the paws of rats. Both of the treatments were given by injection in the paw or by lumbar puncture.The results showed that Ginkgo matched diclofenac for inflammation and pain reduction. The researchers commented that Ginkgo can play a useful role in treating inflammatory pain.

* Because of the blood thinning properties of Gingko Biloba we recommend that you do not take it if you are already consuming blood thinning medication.


A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.