The newsletter of the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University

What is Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a plant; products made from the leaves of this plant are sold as a dietary supplement meant to enhance mental performance, especially memory and concentration. While there are a few small research studies suggesting that ginkgo biloba can improve memory performance in normal people on specific tasks in the laboratory, there is little hard evidence that this transfers to better performance in the real world. Large-scale clinical trials are currently underway to answer some of these questions.

Ginkgo Biloba benefits and side effects

Ginkgo may also have some utility in slowing the mental decline in Alzheimer's disease although further tests are needed.

The active ingredients in ginkgo extracts have not been totally established. Effects of ginkgo may be caused by a single active ingredient or by the combined action of many active ingredients found in the extracts. The active ingredients are made up of flavenoids and terpenoids, antioxidants that hunt for free radicals. Ginkgolide B is a terpenoid, which inhibits the platelet-activating factor, and therefore may impede platelet aggregation and blood clotting.

As a result, ginkgo can cause serious side-effects such as bleeding, and should not be used by people taking anticoagulant medication (including aspirin).

Further Reading:

  • Article : "THE BRAIN TREE";

by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain