Ginkgo Biloba is a tree known from ancient times, whose leaves resemble a heart or a fan. It is from these leaves that an extract bearing the same name is derived. This plant was discovered in Japan in 1690, and even then, the local people were aware of its medicinal properties. Ginkgo Biloba extract was the main ingredient for many medicines and dietary supplements.
This substance acts on the tissue level by improving blood supply to the tissues, especially nerve and muscle tissues, supplying them with oxygen and improving the metabolic rate in them. This creates optimal conditions for the normal functioning of cells and eliminates morbid and unpleasant symptoms of impaired blood flow (ischemia). This concerns Ginkgo leaf extract.
The action of Ginkgo seeds is disputable and has not yet been studied enough. It is known that they contain substances that kill pathogenic fungi and bacteria. However, the toxins that are concentrated in the seeds may induce loss of consciousness and seizures. Therefore, unlike Ginkgo leaf extract, Ginkgo seed extract can be life threatening and it is not safe.
Ginkgo leaf extract also has a number of additional effects – antioxidant effect and control of allergic inflammation due to its content of certain substances (flavonoids and terpene lactones).
Drugs whose main ingredient is Ginkgo Biloba extract has many intended uses:
Even the side effects of Ginkgo, which are common, do not occur too often. Be aware of the possible side effects of drugs containing Ginkgo Biloba, but it is not certain that you will experience them. These effects include:
Besides, the following may also occur:
In very rare cases, there may be signs of bleeding in the brain:
It is important to seek immediate medical attention once any of these side effects occur. Ginkgo Biloba does not usually cause serious side effects and is well tolerated. However, the risk of serious side effects may increase in cases of use of poor-quality food supplements and medicines based on Ginkgo Biloba, and also in cases of significant excess of the maximum dose, or using it in spite of serious contraindications.
Most of the serious side effects are caused by toxins – ginkgolic acid, which is contained in small amounts in Ginkgo tree leaves, and much more in its seeds. It is important for the manufacturer to control the level of this toxin in the extract and keep it at a minimum harmless level (less than 5 parts per million). So try to take medications containing Ginkgo Biloba from trusted manufacturers that surely monitor this indicator.
Substances from Ginkgo Biloba extract can have a damaging effect on platelets, as well as an inhibitory effect on the ability of blood to clot. This can lead to increased bleeding, increased bleeding time and blood loss. This effect, if it occurs, is usually to a very small extent, and it does not manifest externally in most people. However, if you have problems with blood vessels, you are suffering from bleeding disorders or, conversely, from venous thrombosis, contact your doctor to see if you have contraindications to treatment with Ginkgo Biloba extract.
Ginkgo leaf extract can be used in children with indications to this. But it is necessary to consult with your doctor first. Ginkgo Biloba seeds are contraindicated in children.
In pregnant women, long-term use of Ginkgo drugs may increase the risk of bleeding during childbirth and in the postnatal period. Therefore, it is not advisable to take these drugs during pregnancy without a doctor’s permission. It is not known what amounts of substance from Ginkgo Biloba extract pass into the breast milk. Therefore, it is advisable to refrain from breast-feeding during treatment with such drugs.
There have been cases of difficulties with the occurrence of pregnancy when using Ginkgo.
Vascular diseases, diabetes, and problems with blood clotting are more common in the elderly. Therefore, only the doctor can give permission for treatment with such medicines, after taking into account your health and concomitant diseases.
Overdose signs of drugs whose main ingredient is Ginkgo can be:
You should seek immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms occur or if you suspect an overdose of Ginkgo.
It is advisable to refrain from regular use of high doses of alcohol during treatment with Ginkgo because interaction between the substances of the extract or the extract derivatives and alcohol may lead to the occurrence or worsening of side effects, especially dizziness, nausea, etc.
One-time use of alcohol in small amounts during the period of treatment with these medicines is allowed. However, if you have problems with the liver, kidneys, blood vessels, blood pressure and other concomitant diseases, it is advisable to abstain from alcohol or discuss with your doctor the possibility of taking it and the allowed doses.