I had never heard of Ginkgo biloba before, which is why I take great interest in saying this – it is a magic herb. It is found in fossils dating back 270 million years and has many benefits. And it does have side effects too – knowing which is far more important. Hence this post. Can’t wait to know more? Read on.
Ginkgo Biloba – A Brief
Native to the lands of China, Ginkgo biloba is mainly used to prepare medicines for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and reduced blood circulation to the body and brain. It also used to treat mood swings, memory loss, and several other cognitive disorders.
As with everything else, the uncontrolled and unprescribed dosage of ginkgo can cause a number of side effects that can harm you adversely. Here, we have listed 21 side effects of ginkgo biloba you should be aware of. Take a look!
Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects – Top 21
Here are the top 21 side effects of ginkgo biloba:
1. Excessive Bleeding
An overdose of ginkgo biloba causes excessive bleeding, which might become life-threatening. It is also known to increase the risk of bruising.
If you already have bleeding disorders or are on certain medications that can increase the risk, avoid using ginkgo. This herb has anti-platelet properties that make the blood thinner, slowing down the blood clotting process (1).
Most importantly, ginkgo biloba should never be combined with other blood thinners like aspirin or ibuprofen. It has been noted that a few people taking ginkgo with aspirin have reportedly experienced bleeding through their eyes. Some severe cases even reported brain hemorrhage.
Steer clear of ginkgo during your pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding. Stop its usage at least two weeks before surgery to avoid excessive bleeding.
Always consult your physician before you use ginkgo.
2. Allergic Reactions
Excessive use of ginkgo biloba may cause adverse allergic reactions.
Being a part of the Ginkgoaceae family (urushiols), ginkgo has high cross-reactivity that can cause your skin to become very sensitive and lead to allergic reactions (2). As a result, you may experience skin rashes, inflammation, stinging sensation, redness, numbness, hives, blistering, swelling, choking of the throat, shortness of breathing, etc. It generally affects the mucus membranes first, causing them to swell, and then proceeds to the other parts of the body.
Those who are allergic to natural ingredients like poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, cashew shell oil, and mango rind should avoid ginkgo biloba.
If you experience any of these allergic reactions, rush to the hospital immediately.
Dizziness is one of the most common side effects of ginkgo biloba.
It causes minor to major sedation, such as headache, lightheadedness, drowsiness, weak pulse, loss of sense, difficulty in breathing, and seizures. Contact your health specialist if the condition worsens.
4. Gastrointestinal Discomfort
If you are already suffering from gastrointestinal issues, ginkgo biloba can aggravate your problem (3).
When taken in high doses, it leads to acute pain, stomach upset, abdominal cramps, irritation, diarrhea, constipation, etc. So, moderation is the key.
5. Cardiovascular Problems
Ginkgo biloba can affect your cardiovascular system too.
It can alter the blood pressure levels drastically, which may cause either hypertension or hypotension. Apart from this, ginkgo biloba may also cause many serious cardiovascular issues, such as irregular heartbeats, widened blood vessels, heart palpitations, ischemia, stroke, cardiac arrest, and so on.
6. Reduces Blood Sugar Levels
Ginkgo biloba can alter the amount of insulin produced in the body and hinder the management of diabetes (4). So, make sure you closely monitor your blood sugar levels while taking ginkgo.
7. Musculoskeletal Disorders
The overuse of ginkgo biloba is not good for the musculoskeletal system as well.
It can make the muscle fibers weak or extremely stiff. It has also been reported that excessive intake of ginkgo extract can lead to muscle tone loss and spasms of the anal sphincter.
8. May Cause Infertility
This herb has the potential to reduce the fertility level by a large extent (5). If you are trying to conceive, you must consult your physician regarding the dosage of the herb.
9. Vision Issues
Ginkgo biloba is also linked to certain vision-related problems.
If you don’t use it in moderation, you might end up with blurred vision. Apart from that, ginkgo biloba also causes increased bleeding, which may eventually result in the bleeding of the eye.
10. May Lead To Behavioral Changes
You may also experience certain behavioral changes while using ginkgo biloba.
This herb is known to affect the nervous system and can trigger neurological disorders. You might also experience nervousness, restlessness, palpitations, sadness, and many other psychiatric disorders.
11. May Increase The Risk Of Cancer
Some studies have pointed out that ginkgo biloba might increase the risk of thyroid and liver cancers (6). However, this experiment was conducted on animals that were given a really high dosage of this herb. Its carcinogenic effect on humans is still being researched upon.
12. Can Induce Early Labor
As stated earlier, ginkgo biloba should be avoided completely during your pregnancy.
This herb, when taken orally, can cause severe internal bleeding. This may harm the development of the fetus. Avoid ginkgo during the first seven months of pregnancy as its use can induce early and painful labor.
13. Triggers Seizures
It has been speculated that the uncontrolled use of ginkgo biloba can cause seizures.
Completely avoid using this herb if you have had a seizure at any point in your life. This condition is especially worse in epilepsy patients as ginkgo can reduce the effectiveness of anti-seizure drugs in such cases.
14. May Cause Anemia
Ginkgo biloba might increase the risk of anemia in people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) enzyme deficiency (7). So, kindly avoid this herb if you have G6PD deficiency.
15. Increases Appetite
While the reason is still being researched, ginkgo supplementation was found to increase the appetite in many individuals. There are reports stating that those taking ginkgo supplementation twice to thrice a day witnessed an unusual spike in their appetite.
16. Causes Constipation
Many individuals have reported experiencing constipation after taking this herbal supplement. This might be because of the gastrointestinal effects that are triggered by ginkgo.
It’s better that you consult your doctor if you experience irregular bowels.
17. Causes Short-Term Depression
Those taking ginkgo biloba supplements for a longer time report experiencing depression and severe mood swings. All these psychological mechanisms might be associated with epigenetic, physiological, and neurotransmitter reactions.
18. May Cause Diarrhea
Taking more than the recommended dose of ginkgo biloba might cause diarrhea. While a subset of users experienced constipation, several others complained of loose motions.
19. Dry Mouth
Dry mouth caused by impaired saliva production is also a side effect of ginkgo biloba.
While this might be a temporary effect, some people might reencounter this condition when they resume the dosage. In such cases, it is better to discontinue having it.
20. May Cause Headaches And Nausea
The continuous use of ginkgo may trigger headache and nausea in a lot of individuals. While the degree of severity might vary from individual to individual, it’s better that you see your doctor if you experience a headache.
Nausea is linked to an impaired GI system. This symptom also shows that you can’t tolerate your current dosage, and it needs to be changed.
21. May Cause A Weak Pulse
Many users have reported a weak pulse when they take this herb.
This process is related to blood thinning, which leads to impaired blood clotting. Ginkgo biloba is also known to hamper the blood flow in the system, causing a weak pulse.
Factors That Influence Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects
There are a number of factors that influence the extent of the side effects of ginkgo biloba. They are as stated below:
1. Type Of Ginkgo Biloba
Obviously, a lot of the effects of this herb depend on the variety you take. It is important to know how ginkgo is manufactured to understand the degree to which it might affect you. Ensure you buy it from a reputable brand to get the best out of the herb. The side effects may also depend on whether you are taking it in the form of capsules, tablets, gels, or special extracts. The format also affects the degree of absorption of ginkgo in the body.
It is a given that with an increase in the dosage, the severity of the side effects increases. Those taking a dosage of 60 mg might not feel anything, while those on a dosage of 120 mg might experience dizziness and headache. Those taking higher dosages might experience a greater degree of side effects, including internal bleeding.
3. Time Span
The time span also plays an important role in the degree of side effects you might experience. Those on a short-term dosage might experience side effects that may dissipate after a few weeks. In cases of long-term usage, they might not experience anything in the preliminary stages, but might witness some permanent damages in the later stages.
Natural herbs are known to interact adversely with a number of drugs. Those taking this herb supplement with alcohol, drugs, and blood thinners might experience side effects on a greater scale when compared to the normal masses.
5. Genetic Make-up And Behavioral Factors
Many of the side effects of gingko are heavily dependent on your genetic makeup, hormonal levels, sleeping patterns, and dietary habits. This variation is why two individuals taking the same dose at the same time might experience different levels of side effects.
Recommended Dosage Of Ginkgo Biloba
Remember, these severe side effects of ginkgo biloba are dose dependent. So, if you know how much to take, this herb will not harm you. The key is to strictly follow the recommended values at defined times to extract the best of the benefits of ginkgo biloba.
The dosage strictly depends on the condition, gender, and age group, and can range between 40-300 milligrams daily. Those with anxiety disorders are supposed to take lower doses (about 40 milligrams daily), while those with cognitive disorders are recommended a dose of 120 milligrams daily. A higher amount is needed for the treatment and control of hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and mood swings.
You can take this herb in many forms – capsules, liquid extracts, tablets, or dried leaf. All these varieties can be found easily in medical stores and e-commerce sites. Simply look for a type that contains 24 to 32 percent flavonoids (or flavone glycosides), and 6 to 12 percent terpenoids.
- Alzheimer’s Disease – You need to take 240-600 milligrams of ginkgo extract orally for 10 months. The dose should be divided into three parts for three times in a day.
- Altitude Sickness – Take 160 milligrams of ginkgo once daily for 4 to 5 days.
- Autism – Take 100 milligrams of ginkgo orally for four weeks.
- Blood Pressure – Take 120 milligrams of ginkgo orally once daily.
- Cancer Prevention – Take 120 milligrams of ginkgo orally twice daily.
- Cognitive Performance – Take 600 milligrams of ginkgo orally in the form of a tablet once daily for four months.
- Decreased Libido – Take 240 milligrams of ginkgo orally for up to 18 months.
- Depression And Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – Take 240 milligrams of ginkgo orally for up to two months.
- Glaucoma – Take 300 milligrams of ginkgo orally daily in divided doses.
- Heart Disease – Take 120 milligrams of ginkgo twice daily.
- Memory Enhancement – Take 120-360 milligrams of ginkgo orally daily in single or divided doses.
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) – Take 320 milligrams of ginkgo daily in single or divided doses.
All herbs, including ginkgo biloba, are effective as long as they are consumed in the recommended quantities. Make sure you consult a physician before you start consuming this herb.
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