Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More


Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More

Common Names

  • Fossil tree
  • Maidenhair tree
  • Kew tree
  • Bai guo ye
  • Yinhsing

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

What is it?

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living species of trees. Its seeds and leaves are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Ginkgo also comes as capsules, extracts, tablets, and tea.

What are the potential uses and benefits?

Ginkgo is used to:

  • Improve circulation
  • Improve memory
  • Treat tinnitus (buzzing or ringing noise in one or both your ears)

Ginkgo also has other uses that haven’t been studied by doctors to see if they work.

Ginkgo supplements can interact with some medications and affect how they work. Talk with your healthcare providers before taking ginkgo supplements. For more information, read the “What else do I need to know?” section below.

What are the side effects?

Side effects of using ginkgo supplements may include:

  • Low sodium levels in your blood
What else do I need to know?
  • Talk with your healthcare provider if you’re taking blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®). Ginkgo may increase your risk of bleeding.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider if you have a history of seizures. Ginkgo can increase your risk of seizures.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you’re taking efavirenz (Sustiva®) to treat HIV. Ginkgo can make it less effective.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re taking midazolam (Versed) for anxiety, trouble sleeping, or for seizures. Ginkgo may make this medication less effective.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you’re on insulin. Ginkgo can affect how it works in your body.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re taking medications such as prochlorperazine (Compazine®). Ginkgo can increase your risk for seizures when you’re taking this medication.

For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
Ginkgo biloba
Clinical Summary

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species. It is cultivated around the world for its medicinal properties and aesthetic value. The seeds and leaves have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat respiratory diseases, circulatory disorders, sexual dysfunction, and hearing loss. It is also marketed as a supplement to support memory and circulation.

Clinical studies including the large Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study generally show supplementation with ginkgo does not improve cognitive performance or prevent Alzheimer’s disease or dementia (4) (5) (6) (7) (8). In addition, positive effects from earlier studies were not confirmed in more recent trials and some systematic reviews determined there was insufficient evidence on any benefits in adults with either normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment (9) (10).

Although two trials suggest potential benefit with ginkgo in acute ischemic stroke (11) (12), a study in older adults noted increased stroke incidence (4), and a meta-analysis suggests evidence is generally weak with a high risk of bias (54). In addition, the large GEM study did not find benefit with ginkgo for cardiovascular disease incidence or mortality (13). Studies on whether ginkgo can help tinnitus are mixed (14) (15) (55) (56) (58), as are studies for other conditions such as ADHD (16) (17).

Studies on ginkgo in cancer patients are quite limited (3) (21), and secondary outcome data from the aforementioned GEM study does not support the use of ginkgo to reduce cancer risk (22). It is also ineffective in preventing chemotherapy-associated cognitive dysfunction in breast cancer patients (23).

Although some preliminary data suggested ginkgo may reduce ovarian cancer risk (20), animal models suggest that high doses may have hepatocarcinogenic effects (24) (25). More studies are needed to determine the significance of these findings.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Circulatory disorders
  • Memory loss
  • Tinnitus
Mechanism of Action

Ginkgo interacts with several cytochrome P450 enzymes. Pretreatment with G. biloba extract induces expression of CYP3A proteins and mRNA and increases CYP3A activity (26). It also inhibits CYP2B6 catalytic activity and bupropion hydroxylation (27). Ginkgo may play a role in decreasing high-glucose-induced endothelial inflammation via inhibition of interleukin-6 activation (28), and repeated intake of ginkgo enhanced cell proliferation and neuroblast differentiation (29). Flavonoids present in ginkgo extracts inhibited estrogen biosynthesis via aromatase inhibition, decreased CYP19 mRNA, and induced transcriptional suppression (30).

Chemopreventive properties of bilobalide, a terpene trilactone, may occur via alterations in cryptal cell proliferation and drug-metabolizing enzyme activities (1). Exocarp polysaccharides from ginkgo affected expression of c-myc, bcl-2 and c-fos genes, which can inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis and differentiation of human gastric tumor cells (3).

  • Ginkgo should be used with caution during pregnancy, especially around childbirth, because its antiplatelet properties may prolong bleeding time. The safety of ginkgo leaf during lactation is not known (61).
Adverse Reactions

Case reports

Hyponatremia: Several cases, which included symptoms of confused state, malaise, headaches, and fatigue. Plasma sodium normalized following cessation of ginkgo supplements (57).
Spontaneous bleeding: Including hematomas (31) (32), hyphema (33), and cerebral and intracerebral bleeding (34) (35).
Prolonged bleeding time: Among some healthy volunteers in a pharmacodynamic study that evaluated the interaction of ginkgo with antiplatelet drugs (36).
Seizures: In predisposed patients or those on medications that lowered the seizure threshold (37).
Cutaneous reaction: Pruritus and macular erythema in a man after repeatedly ingesting a natural product containing ginkgo and vinpocetine (38).
Acute hemolytic anemia (with injected ginkgo): In a patient with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency receiving a G. biloba injection for dementia prophylaxis. Symptoms resolved following intravenous fluid infusion and discontinuation of G. biloba  (39).
Anaphylactic shock caused by Ischemic Optic Neuropathy: In a 55-year-old male after receiving a G. biloba  and Damo injection. Medical intervention led to symptom resolution (59).

Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Cytochrome P450 substrates: Laboratory studies and a few case reports suggest ginkgo can inhibit and induce the CYP450 1A2, 2D6, and 3A4 enzymes, but data are conflicting (26) (27) (40) (41) (42) (43). Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
  • P-glycoprotein substrates: In healthy volunteers, ginkgo inhibits P-glycoprotein and may interfere with drugs that are transported by P-glycoprotein (44).
  • UGT (Uridine 5’-diphospho-glucuronosyltransferase) substrates: In vitro, ginkgo modulates UGT enzymes and may increase the side effects of drugs metabolized by them (45). Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
  • MATE1 substrates: Laboratory studies indicate that isorhamnetin, a compound present in ginkgo is a strong inhibitor of the human multidrug and toxic compounds extrusion transporter 1 (hMATE1), responsible for the excretion of various drugs in the kidney and liver (46). Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
  • Anticoagulants / Antiplatelets: Human studies and case reports indicate that ginkgo may induce or prolong bleeding time (36) (47).
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): Adverse event reports indicate that ginkgo can have additive anticoagulant/antiplatelet effects (48).
  • Antipsychotics / Prochlorperazine: Case reports suggest ginkgo may cause seizures when combined with medications that lower the seizure threshold (37).
  • Insulin: Laboratory and human studies suggest ginkgo can alter insulin secretion and affect blood glucose levels (49) (50).
  • Trazodone: Ginkgo extract was associated with coma in a patient with Alzheimer’s disease who was also taking trazodone (47).
  • Efavirenz: Case reports suggest ginkgo may inhibit the effects of this drug (43) (51).
  • Midazolam: A study in healthy subjects suggests ginkgo may decrease serum concentrations (52).
  • Amlodipine: Animal studies suggest that a multiherbal formula containing ginkgo could inhibit the metabolism of amlodipine (53). Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
  • Tacrolimus: Concurrent use of ginkgo inhibited metabolism of tacrolimus in a preclinical study. Clinical relevance is not known (60).
Dosage (OneMSK Only)
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  2. Pretner E, Amri H, Li W, et al. Cancer-related overexpression of the peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor and cytostatic anticancer effects of Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761). Anticancer Res. Jan-Feb 2006;26(1a):9-22.
  3. Xu AH, Chen HS, Sun BC, et al. Therapeutic mechanism of Ginkgo biloba exocarp polysaccharides on gastric cancer. World J Gastroenterol. Nov 2003;9(11):2424-2427.
  4. Dodge HH, Zitzelberger T, Oken BS, et al. A randomized placebo-controlled trial of Ginkgo biloba for the prevention of cognitive decline. Neurology. May 6 2008;70(19 Pt 2):1809-1817.
  5. DeKosky ST, Williamson JD, Fitzpatrick AL, et al. Ginkgo biloba for prevention of dementia: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. Nov 19 2008;300(19):2253-2262.
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  7. Vellas B, Coley N, Ousset PJ, et al. Long-term use of standardised Ginkgo biloba extract for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (GuidAge): a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Neurol. Oct 2012;11(10):851-859.
  8. Solomon PR, Adams F, Silver A, et al. Ginkgo for memory enhancement: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. Aug 21 2002;288(7):835-840.
  9. Birks J, Grimley Evans J. Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Jan 21 2009(1):Cd003120.
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  11. Li S, Zhang X, Fang Q, et al. Ginkgo biloba extract improved cognitive and neurological functions of acute ischaemic stroke: a randomised controlled trial. Stroke Vasc Neurol. Dec 2017;2(4):189-197.
  12. Chen C, Lv H, Shan L, et al. Antiplatelet effect of ginkgo diterpene lactone meglumine injection in acute ischemic stroke: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.  Phytother Res. 2023 May;37(5):1986-1996. 
  13. Kuller LH, Ives DG, Fitzpatrick AL, et al. Does Ginkgo biloba reduce the risk of cardiovascular events? Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. Jan 2010;3(1):41-47.
  14. Han SS, Nam EC, Won JY, et al. Clonazepam quiets tinnitus: a randomised crossover study with Ginkgo biloba. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. Aug 2012;83(8):821-827.
  15. Rejali D, Sivakumar A, Balaji N. Ginkgo biloba does not benefit patients with tinnitus: a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind trial and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci. Jun 2004;29(3):226-231.
  16. Shakibaei F, Radmanesh M, Salari E, et al. Ginkgo biloba in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. A randomized, placebo-controlled, trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. May 2015;21(2):61-67.
  17. Salehi B, Imani R, Mohammadi MR, et al. Ginkgo biloba for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents: a double blind, randomized controlled trial. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. Feb 1 2010;34(1):76-80.
  18. Gertsch JH, Basnyat B, Johnson EW, et al. Randomised, double blind, placebo controlled comparison of Ginkgo biloba and acetazolamide for prevention of acute mountain sickness among Himalayan trekkers: the prevention of high altitude illness trial (PHAIT). BMJ. Apr 3 2004;328(7443):797.
  19. Moraga FA, Flores A, Serra J, et al. Ginkgo biloba decreases acute mountain sickness in people ascending to high altitude at Ollague (3696 m) in northern Chile. Wilderness Environ Med. Winter 2007;18(4):251-257.
  20. Ye B, Aponte M, Dai Y, et al. Ginkgo biloba and ovarian cancer prevention: epidemiological and biological evidence. Cancer Lett. Jun 18 2007;251(1):43-52.
  21. Hauns B, Haring B, Kohler S, et al. Phase II study of combined 5-fluorouracil/Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE 761 ONC) therapy in 5-fluorouracil pretreated patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Phytother Res. Feb 2001;15(1):34-38.
  22. Biggs ML, Sorkin BC, Nahin RL, et al. Ginkgo biloba and risk of cancer: secondary analysis of the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) Study. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. Jul 2010;19(7):694-698.
  23. Barton DL, Burger K, Novotny PJ, et al. The use of Ginkgo biloba for the prevention of chemotherapy-related cognitive dysfunction in women receiving adjuvant treatment for breast cancer, N00C9. Support Care Cancer. Apr 2013;21(4):1185-1192.
  24. Hoenerhoff MJ, Pandiri AR, Snyder SA, et al. Hepatocellular carcinomas in B6C3F1 mice treated with Ginkgo biloba extract for two years differ from spontaneous liver tumors in cancer gene mutations and genomic pathways. Toxicol Pathol. Aug 2013;41(6):826-841.
  25. Mei N, Guo X, Ren Z, et al. Review of Ginkgo biloba-induced toxicity, from experimental studies to human case reports. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev. Jan 2 2017;35(1):1-28.
  26. Deng Y, Bi HC, Zhao LZ, et al. Induction of cytochrome P450 3A by the Ginkgo biloba extract and bilobalides in human and rat primary hepatocytes. Drug Metab Lett. Jan 2008;2(1):60-66.
  27. Lau AJ, Chang TK. Inhibition of human CYP2B6-catalyzed bupropion hydroxylation by Ginkgo biloba extract: effect of terpene trilactones and flavonols. Drug Metab Dispos. Sep 2009;37(9):1931-1937.
  28. Chen JS, Chen YH, Huang PH, et al. Ginkgo biloba extract reduces high-glucose-induced endothelial adhesion by inhibiting the redox-dependent interleukin-6 pathways. Cardiovasc Diabetol. May 3 2012;11:49.
  29. Yoo DY, Nam Y, Kim W, et al. Effects of Ginkgo biloba extract on promotion of neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus in C57BL/6 mice. J Vet Med Sci. Jan 2011;73(1):71-76.
  30. Park YJ, Choo WH, Kim HR, et al. Inhibitory Aromatase Effects of Flavonoids from Ginkgo biloba Extracts on Estrogen Biosynthesis. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015;16(15):6317-6325.
  31. Rowin J, Lewis SL. Spontaneous bilateral subdural hematomas associated with chronic Ginkgo biloba ingestion. Neurology. Jun 1996;46(6):1775-1776.
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  33. Rosenblatt M, Mindel J. Spontaneous hyphema associated with ingestion of Ginkgo biloba extract. N Engl J Med. Apr 10 1997;336(15):1108.
  34. Matthews MK, Jr. Association of Ginkgo biloba with intracerebral hemorrhage. Neurology. Jun 1998;50(6):1933-1934.
  35. Pedroso JL, Henriques Aquino CC, Escorcio Bezerra ML, et al. Ginkgo biloba and cerebral bleeding: a case report and critical review. Neurologist. Mar 2011;17(2):89-90.
  36. Aruna D, Naidu MU. Pharmacodynamic interaction studies of Ginkgo biloba with cilostazol and clopidogrel in healthy human subjects. Br J Clin Pharmacol. Mar 2007;63(3):333-338.
  37. Gregory PJ. Seizure associated with Ginkgo biloba? Ann Intern Med. Feb 20 2001;134(4):344.
  38. Cohen PR. Fixed Drug Eruption to Supplement Containing Ginkgo biloba and Vinpocetine: A Case Report and Review of Related Cutaneous Side Effects. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Oct 2017;10(10):44-47.
  39. Lai SW, Chen JH, Kao WY. Acute hemolytic anemia in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency complicated by Ginkgo biloba. Acta Haematol. 2013;130(4):288-290.
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  42. Lin YY, Chu SJ, Tsai SH. Association between priapism and concurrent use of risperidone and Ginkgo biloba. Mayo Clin Proc. Oct 2007;82(10):1289-1290.
  43. Wiegman DJ, Brinkman K, Franssen EJ. Interaction of Ginkgo biloba with efavirenz. AIDS Jun 1 2009;23(9):1184-1185.
  44. Fan L, Mao XQ, Tao GY, et al. Effect of Schisandra chinensis extract and Ginkgo biloba extract on the pharmacokinetics of talinolol in healthy volunteers. Xenobiotica. Mar 2009;39(3):249-254.
  45. Mohamed ME, Frye RF. Effects of herbal supplements on drug glucuronidation. Review of clinical, animal, and in vitro studies. Planta Med. Mar 2011;77(4):311-321.
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  49. Kudolo GB. The effect of 3-month ingestion of Ginkgo biloba extract on pancreatic beta-cell function in response to glucose loading in normal glucose tolerant individuals. J Clin Pharmacol. Jun 2000;40(6):647-654.
  50. Budzinski JW, Foster BC, Vandenhoek S, et al. An in vitro evaluation of human cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibition by selected commercial herbal extracts and tinctures. Phytomedicine. Jul 2000;7(4):273-282.
  51. Naccarato M, Yoong D, Gough K. A potential drug-herbal interaction between Ginkgo biloba and efavirenz. J Int Assoc Physicians AIDS Care (Chic). Mar-Apr 2012;11(2):98-100.
  52. Robertson SM, Davey RT, Voell J, et al. Effect of Ginkgo biloba extract on lopinavir, midazolam and fexofenadine pharmacokinetics in healthy subjects. Curr Med Res Opin. Feb 2008;24(2):591-599.
  53. Wang R, Zhang H, Sun S, et al. Effect of Ginkgo Leaf Tablets on the Pharmacokinetics of Amlodipine in Rats. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. Dec 2016;41(6):825-833.
  54. Ji H, Zhou X, Wei W, et al. Ginkgol biloba extract as an adjunctive treatment for ischemic stroke: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Medicine (Baltimore). Jan 2020;99(2):e18568.
  55. Procházková K, Šejna I, Skutil J, et al. Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761(®) versus pentoxifylline in chronic tinnitus: a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. Int J Clin Pharm. Oct 2018;40(5):1335-1341.
  56. Spiegel R, Kalla R, Mantokoudis G, et al. Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761(®) alleviates neurosensory symptoms in patients with dementia: a meta-analysis of treatment effects on tinnitus and dizziness in randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Clin Interv Aging. 2018;13:1121-1127.
  57. Hamilton N, Alamri Y, Allan C, et al. Ginkgo biloba-related hyponatraemia: a reminder that herbal supplements are not benign. Intern Med J. Nov 2019;49(11):1458-1460.
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  59. Yan L, Wei Q, Gao Y. Treating Severe Adverse Drug Reactions Caused by Ischemic Optic Neuropathy with Ginkgo Biloba Extract Injection: A Case Report.  Altern Ther Health Med. 2023 Jul;29(5):78-81.
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