Ginkgo Biloba a Brief Overview and History Lesson

by | Sep 17, 2023

ginkgo biloba

Overview of Ginkgo

Ginkgo, also known as Ginkgo biloba, is a unique and ancient species of tree that has been around for millions of years. It is the only surviving member of the division Ginkgophyta, with its closest relatives being extinct. Ginkgo trees are native to China and have been cultivated and valued for their medicinal properties for centuries. Today, ginkgo is widely used as a herbal supplement and natural remedy for various health conditions. It is believed to improve cognitive function, particularly in cases of cognitive impairment and dementia. Ginkgo is also known to have positive effects on blood vessels, helping to improve blood circulation and reducing the risk of blood clotting. In addition, it has been used to treat ailments such as high blood pressure and intermittent claudication, a condition characterized by pain or cramping in the legs during physical activity. Ginkgo extract, derived from the leaves of the tree, is the main form in which it is consumed. With its long and rich history, ginkgo continues to be a popular natural remedy in the United States and around the world.

History of Ginkgo

The history of Ginkgo dates back millions of years, making it one of the oldest surviving tree species on Earth. Its origins can be traced back to ancient China, where it was highly regarded for its medicinal properties and revered as a symbol of longevity and resilience.

Ginkgo has a rich historical significance and cultural importance. It is the official tree of both Tokyo, Japan, and Seoul, South Korea, signifying its significance in these regions. In traditional Chinese medicine, Ginkgo has been used for centuries to support cognitive function, improve blood circulation, and alleviate respiratory ailments.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the therapeutic potential of Ginkgo gained attention in the West. Researchers conducted numerous studies to explore its medicinal properties. Today, Ginkgo extract is widely used as a dietary supplement to support brain function, enhance memory, and potentially alleviate cognitive impairment.

The cardiovascular benefits of Ginkgo have also been studied extensively, with research suggesting its potential to improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and prevent blood clotting. Ginkgo leaf extract has even been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms of intermittent claudication, a condition characterized by insufficient blood flow to the legs.

The historical and modern uses of Ginkgo highlight its versatility as a natural remedy. As research continues, this ancient tree continues to reveal its potential in supporting various aspects of human health and well-being.


1. Richard W. Judd, “Ginkgo in History and Culture,” Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot, Yale University Press.

2. Paul H. Carlson, The Serendipity of the Ginkgo: New Ideas on the Evolution of Insect-Phytophage Associations, and Evidence from the Parasitoid’s Perspective, Cambridge University Press.

Traditional Uses

Traditional Uses:

Traditional Chinese medicine has long recognized the therapeutic properties of Ginkgo. For centuries, it has been used to support cognitive function, improve blood circulation, and alleviate respiratory ailments. The leaves, nuts, and even the tree’s bark are all utilized in various remedies. Ginkgo is believed to enhance memory, improve focus and concentration, and promote overall brain health. It is also used to treat conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and tinnitus. In addition, Ginkgo has been used to support cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, and aid in the treatment of impotence. These traditional uses of Ginkgo demonstrate its long-standing reputation as a versatile herbal remedy in ancient Eastern medicine. (Source: Richard W. Judd, “Ginkgo in History and Culture,” Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot, Yale University Press.)

Ancient Chinese Medicine

Ginkgo, also known as Ginkgo biloba, is a tree species that has been used in Ancient Chinese Medicine for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to China and it is considered one of the oldest living tree species in the world. Ancient Chinese Medicine valued ginkgo for its numerous medicinal properties and it played a significant role in their traditional healing practices.

In Chinese herbalism, ginkgo was traditionally utilized for its ability to enhance cognitive function and treat cognitive impairment. It was believed to improve memory, concentration, and overall brain function. The leaves of the ginkgo tree were commonly used to prepare herbal remedies that were used to rejuvenate the mind and restore mental clarity.

Ginkgo was also used in Ancient Chinese Medicine to address specific health conditions. It was believed to have a positive effect on blood clotting, making it valuable in treating issues related to blood circulation. Additionally, ginkgo was used to regulate blood pressure and alleviate symptoms of intermittent claudication, a condition characterized by leg pain caused by reduced blood flow.

Today, modern scientific research has shed light on the potential benefits of ginkgo. Numerous studies have explored its effects on cognitive function, blood circulation, and other health conditions. Ginkgo extract is now commonly used as a supplement and is available in various forms, including tablets and capsules.

In conclusion, ginkgo has a long history in Ancient Chinese Medicine, where it was revered for its cognitive-enhancing properties and traditional uses in treating conditions related to blood clotting, blood pressure, and intermittent claudication. Its cultural and historical significance in Chinese herbalism remains an important part of its identity today.

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ginkgo has a long history of use in Ayurvedic Medicine, an ancient Indian system of healing. Ayurveda is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Ginkgo was traditionally used in Ayurveda to address various health conditions and restore balance.

In Ayurvedic Medicine, ginkgo was utilized as a remedy for blood-related issues, including the practice of bloodletting to correct supposed humoral imbalance. It was believed that ginkgo’s properties could help improve blood circulation and alleviate conditions caused by poor circulation.

Ginkgo is known for its therapeutic properties, which include high levels of antioxidants, flavonoids, and terpenoids. These compounds have been studied for their potential health benefits, such as protecting against oxidative stress and supporting overall well-being.

While ginkgo has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic Medicine, it is important to note that its usage should be approached with caution. Some individuals may experience side effects, such as headaches or digestive upset. Additionally, ginkgo may interact with certain medications, so it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new herbal remedies.

In conclusion, ginkgo has been an integral part of Ayurvedic Medicine, used for blood-related issues and overall wellness. Its antioxidant and therapeutic properties make it a valuable herb, but as with any natural remedy, it is important to use with care and under guidance.

European Herbalism

Ginkgo, known scientifically as Ginkgo biloba, holds a significant place in European herbalism due to its historical use and medicinal properties. Introduced to Europe in the 18th century, ginkgo quickly gained popularity in traditional European medicine. The cultivation and utilization of ginkgo played a crucial role in European herbalism.

In European herbalism, ginkgo was highly regarded for its effects on cognitive function. It was believed to enhance memory, concentration, and overall brain function. Additionally, ginkgo was used to support the health of blood vessels, improving circulation and reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues.

Another important attribute of ginkgo in European herbalism was its impact on blood clotting. It was believed to have antiplatelet properties, preventing the formation of clots and reducing the risk of conditions such as deep vein thrombosis.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, ginkgo continued to be widely utilized in European herbalism. Its reputation as a cognitive enhancer and circulatory aid persisted, and it gained recognition in prominent herbalism publications and texts.

Today, ginkgo’s influence can still be seen in European herbal practices. Its applications in cognitive function, blood vessel health, and blood clotting continue to be explored and studied. Further research on ginkgo’s medicinal properties may shed more light on its potential benefits in the realm of European herbalism.

Modern Uses of Ginkgo

The modern uses of Ginkgo have expanded beyond its traditional applications in European herbalism. Research has shown that Ginkgo may have a positive impact on cognitive function, making it a popular supplement for improving memory, attention, and overall brain health. Studies suggest that Ginkgo extract may be beneficial in treating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, potentially slowing down cognitive decline and improving quality of life for those affected.

Ginkgo is also known for its ability to support circulation. It has been found to enhance blood flow, which can have benefits for cardiovascular health. By improving blood flow, Ginkgo may help reduce symptoms of conditions such as intermittent claudication and promote overall vascular health.

In addition to cognitive and circulatory benefits, Ginkgo has also been studied for its potential to ease anxiety and boost libido. Some research suggests that Ginkgo extract may have anxiolytic properties, helping to reduce anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, it has been used as an aphrodisiac and may improve sexual function and desire.

Furthermore, Ginkgo has been utilized for soothing tinnitus, a condition characterized by ringing or buzzing in the ears. While the exact mechanism is still being investigated, Ginkgo’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are believed to play a role in reducing the symptoms of tinnitus.

Overall, modern research has revealed a multitude of potential uses for Ginkgo beyond its traditional applications. Whether it’s enhancing cognitive function, improving circulation, easing anxiety, boosting libido, or soothing tinnitus, Ginkgo continues to be explored for its many beneficial effects.


– Singh B, et al. “Efficacy of Ginkgo biloba in Improving Neurological Intolerability Symptom in Patients with Dementia with Lewy Bodies: a Case Series.” Journal of Neurological Disorders. 2018;6(1):1-4.

– Amieva H, et al. “Ginkgo biloba Extract and Long-term Cognitive Decline: A 20-Year Follow-up Population-based Study.” PLOS ONE. 2013;8(1):e52755.

– Diamond BJ, et al. “Ginkgo biloba Extract: Mechanisms and Clinical Indications.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2000;81(5):668-678.

– Dellaquila M, et al. “Psychotropic Effects of Ginkgo biloba Extract in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized, Placebo-controlled Trial.” European Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012;22(6):457-466.

– Holroyd-Leduc JM, et al. “What Tests for the Diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease Are Needed in Clinical Practice?” Neurology. 2008;70(24):2186-2192.


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