What is Ginkgo biloba, what does it help with? Also, is it safe to take?
Answered by neurologist Daniel Murman, MD:
Ginkgo biloba is made from the leaves of a Ginkgo tree. Ginkgo leaves are rich in flavonoids, which have strong antioxidant qualities. It also has terpenoids, which are believed to enhance circulation by expanding blood vessels and decreasing the “stickiness” of platelets. Ginkgo can be found as an oral tablet, extract, capsule or in tea.
Recent research has looked at Ginkgo as helping with memory and dementia as well as poor blood flow or claudication. Currently, research has shown little evidence that it helps with memory, dementia or claudication. (Claudication is pain caused by too little blood flow.)
If you still want to reap some of the benefits of Ginkgo biloba, it is better to get it from your diet rather than purchasing supplements. Fruits and vegetables are rich in flavonoids, especially brightly colored ones. Terpenoids can be found in citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and limes. It can also be found in some spices including rosemary, basil and black pepper.