Ginkgo

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Ginkgo Safety and Side Effects

Ginkgo is safe for most people when used appropriately. It can cause some minor side effects such as stomach upset, headache, dizziness, constipation, forceful heartbeat, and allergic skin reactions.

There is some concern that ginkgo might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Ginkgo thins the blood and decreases its ability to form clots. A few people taking ginkgo have had bleeding into the eye and into the brain, and excessive bleeding following surgery.

Some research suggests that a specific combination of ginkgo leaf extract plus American ginseng might be safe in children when used short-term.

Ginkgo seeds might not be safe. Long-term use or use of medicinal amounts can cause serious side effects including stomachache, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness, difficulty breathing, weak pulse, shock, seizures, loss of consciousness, and death.

Do not take ginkgo if..

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What other names is Ginkgo known by?

Abricot Argenté Japonais, Adiantifolia, Arbre aux Écus, Arbre aux Quarante Écus, Arbre du Ciel, Arbre Fossile, Bai Guo Ye, Baiguo, Extrait de Feuille de Ginkgo, Extrait de Ginkgo, Fossil Tree, Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf, Ginkgo Extract, Ginkgo Folium, Ginkgo Leaf Extact, Ginkgo Seed, 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.

What is Ginkgo?

Ginkgo is an herb. The leaves are generally used to make medicine. However, a few medicines are made from the seed, but these are not well studied.

Is Ginkgo effective?

There is some scientific evidence that ginkgo can slow the loss of memory and social skills in people with Alzheimer's disease. Ginkgo might also help normal memory loss in older people and can possibly sharpen the thinking skills of younger people.

Ginkgo might also help people who experience leg pain when they walk due to poor bloodflow. Ginkgo seems to be able to help people with this condition walk farther before the pain starts. It might also help people with balance problems, ease some of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) (especially breast tenderness), improve distance vision in people with macular degeneration, improve color vision in people with diabetes, and reverse the sexual side effects of certain medications for depression (such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, etc.).

There isn't enough information to know if ginkgo leaf is effective for the other conditions people use it for, including: attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), blood clots, heart disease, high cholesterol, "hardening" of the arteries, depression, mountain sickness, and others.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
  • Improving thinking problems caused by old age.
  • Improving thinking in young people.
  • Raynaud's syndrome (a painful response to cold especially in the fingers and toes).
  • Leg pain when walking due to poor blood flow (claudication).
  • Vertigo and dizziness.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Improving color vision in people with diabetes.
  • Treating some kinds of eye diseases (glaucoma and eye damage caused by diabetes).

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
  • Winter depression in people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  • Sexual problems related to antidepressant medicines.
  • Sexual problems in women.
  • Preventing symptoms of mountain or altitude sickness in climbers.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), anxiety, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), blood clots, heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, "hardening" of the arteries (atherosclerosis), colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, hearing loss, schizophrenia, and other conditions when the extract is used.
  • Coughs, asthma, bronchitis, urinary problems, cognitive problems related to Lyme disease, digestion disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), scabies, and skin sores when the seeds are used.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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