Efficacy of Ginko Biloba as a Cognitive Enhancer

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Ginko biloba, particularly the extracts from its leaves, has been part of ancient Chinese medicine for centuries. Long before modern science have started to study its pharmaceutical and nootropic properties, ancient Chinese medicine has been prescribing ginko biloba in combination with ginseng and gotu kola as a tonic for cognitive decline, and for blood circulation problems. It can therefore be said, the ginko biloba, ginseng, and gotu kola combination may be considered as one of the earliest known nootropic stacks that actually works.

Also known as the maidenhair tree, the ginko biloba tree is believed to have been around for millions of years. Regarded as a living fossil, some ginko trees in China are believed to be more than 2,000 years old. Although the modern day concentration of wild (uncultured) ginko biloba trees are almost exclusively found in the Zheijang province of China, leaf fossils of the tree dating as far back as the Jurassic period can be found in England and in North America.

ginko biloba

Just like ginseng, ginko biloba was initially marketed as a sexual potency enhancer, especially for men. This seeming aphrosidiac effect may be attributed to ginko biloba’s ability to increase blood flow in the veins. This same trait from the ginko biloba extract is also thought to be one of its actions that contribute to its cognitive enhancement effects as more blood flow to the brain means more oxygen and nutrients are supplied to it, making its processes more efficient.

Surprisingly, comprehensive studies have been conducted with repeated double blind trials on ginko biloba and the results suggest that supplementation with it contributes to the increase in short term memory recall in older individuals aged 55 and above. The same study also confirmed its neuroprotective effects and it even showed that ginko biloba can also stave off and even reverse cognitive decline in the same age group.

For healthier and younger individuals however, there is very little data on the efficacy of ginko biloba as a cognitive enhancer. Reviews from experienced users of nootropics are likewise scarce, partly owing to the fact that ginko biloba is often stacked with other nootropics and its effect on its own may not be as reliable. Some of those who use ginko regularly in a stack however, believe that its addition complements the effects of the main nootropic in the stack.

The ability of ginko biloba to increase blood flow should be a cause of concern for individuals with blood clotting problems as supplementing with it may increase the risk of bleeding. Ginko is also known to significantly decrease the effectiveness of certain antidepressants.  Other known side effects of ginko biloba include headaches, nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, insomnia, and anxiety.

PROS

  • All natural.
  • It has additional benefits apart from being a cognitive enhancer.
  • It has neuroprotective properties.
  • It may complement your current nootropic stack.

CONS

  • It may not be as effective when taken on its own.
  • It may increase the risk of bleeding in individuals with blood clotting problems.
  • It may negate the effect of some drugs.
  • It has unpleasant side effects.

To supplement with ginko biloba as a nootropic, it should be taken within four hours before when it is needed, e.g. before reviewing for an exam or before a job interview. The optimum range of daily dosing for cognitive enhancement is set at 124 to 240mg, taken orally and preferably with meals. Older individuals should take 120 to 360mg, divided in three doses daily as a preventive measure for cognitive decline.

 

 

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