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Better Brain Health with Ginkgo Biloba

By | Fact Checked By Andrea Donsky |

Better Brain Health with Ginkgo Biloba

Would you take a supplement that was made from a living fossil if it would protect and support your brain health? Then get ready to try ginkgo biloba!

What is ginkgo biloba?

Ginkgo biloba is a tree that is the only member that remains of an ancient order of plants. Also known as maidenhair, ginkgo biloba has been grown for millennia in China, and as an herbal remedy, it has been valued for a wide variety of health reasons for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. 

In much more recent times, scientists have evaluated ginkgo biloba and verified or clarified many of the benefits attributed to this plant and its broad leaves, although traditional Chinese medicine practitioners still use the seeds as well. The herb’s health benefits are believed to be due to the presence of a group of antioxidants known as flavonoids (e.g., quercetin, rutin), as well as terpenoids (e.g., ginkgolides A, B, and C), which help with circulation issues.

Benefits of ginkgo biloba for women in menopause

Ginkgo biloba may be beneficial for women in perimenopause through postmenopause concerning brain health, cognitive decline, anxiety, depression, and stress.

Cognitive decline. Memory loss, brain fog, and problems with concentration are common complaints among women in menopause. Ginkgo can boost blood flow to the brain, which may help with brain health issues. 

In a review of 21 studies, it was shown that the use of a ginkgo extract along with conventional medication could increase cognitive function in individuals with mild Alzheimer’s. In another study, individuals showed a significant reduction in dementia symptoms when they took ginkgo for 22 to 24 weeks.  

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Enhanced brain function. Ginkgo seems to help improve brain function among healthy older adults. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 262 women and men age 60 and older showed that the use of the herbal supplement showed evidence of enhanced memory and neuropsychological processes. 

Another study seems to confirm these findings. Sixty-six healthy individuals aged 50 to 65 who had no cognitive impairment were randomly assigned to take either placebo or 240 mg ginkgo biloba three times a day for four weeks. Those taking ginkgo noted an improvement in mental functioning (e.g., focus, memory, attention) and quality of life.

Anxiety. This is one of the more often-mentioned symptoms among women in perimenopause and menopause. One study of 170 people with generalized anxiety looked at the impact of either 240 mg or 480 mg of ginkgo or placebo. Participants who took 480 mg reported a 45 percent greater reduction in anxiety symptoms compared with those who took a placebo. Animal research also has shown a reduction in anxiety symptoms, which the experts believe is associated with the antioxidants in ginkgo.

Read about treating depression naturally

Depression. Evidence that ginkgo can help with depression has been limited mainly to animal studies. Mice given ginkgo and then exposed to stress were less emotionally affected than mice not given the supplement. The benefit was attributed to ginkgo’s anti-inflammatory abilities, which make it easier for the body to cope with elevated stress hormone (cortisol) levels. 

Bottom line

Brain health, anxiety, cognitive decline, and depression are concerns among women in the menopause years. The ancient herbal remedy ginkgo biloba may help with the management of these concerns. 

  • Cieza A et al. Effects of Ginkgo biloba on mental functioning in healthy volunteers. Archives of Medical Research 2003 Sep-Oct; 34(5):373-81
  • Hill A. 12 benefits of ginkgo biloba (plus side effects & dosage). Healthline 2018 May 29
  • Mix JA, Crews WD Jr. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 in a sample of cognitively intact older adults: neuropsychological findings. Human Psychopharmacology 2002 Aug; 17(6):267-77.
  • Mix JA, Crews WD Jr. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 in a sample of cognitively intact older adults: neuropsychological findings. Human Psychopharmacology 2002 Aug; 17(6):267-77.
  • Montes P et al. Ginkgo biloba extract 761: A review of basic studies and potential clinical use in psychiatric disorders. CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets 2015; 14(1):132-49
  • Savage K et al. GABA-modulating phytomedicines for anxiety: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical evidence. Phytotherapy Research 2018 Jan; 32(1):3-18.
  • Woelk H et al. Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761 in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Psychiatric Research 2007 Sep; 41(6):472-80
  • Yang G et al. Ginkgo biloba for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry 2016; 16(5):520-28
Andrea is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) & Menopause Expert. Andrea is in menopause & has been researching for the last 5 years science-based ingredients and methods to help women manage their symptoms. She’s the Founder of NaturallySavvy.com—a multiple award-winning website. Andrea co-authored the book “Unjunk Your Junk Food” published by Simon and Schuster, as well as “Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart,” and “Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.” Andrea co-hosts the Morphus for Menopause podcast and appears as a Healthy Living Expert on TV across North America. Andrea has more than 20 years of experience in the health & wellness space and is a multiple award-winning Influencer.