- Ginkgo Biloba L.
- Ginkgo family
Parts Usually Used
Leaves, nuts (seeds)
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
ginkgo is a large, picturesque tree that grows up to 100 feet,
with attractive fan-shaped and bright green slightly ruffles leaves.
Seeds are yellow. It is often planted as a street tree, because it
is not fussy about growing conditions and is virtually pest and disease
free. Mostly male trees are planted; the female trees produce a yellowish
fruit that emits a fetid odor after it ripens and drops.
Although the ginkgo will grow in most situations, it does best in
full sun and very well-drained soil, with moisture supplied throughout
the growing season. Purchase well-branched male plants, making sure
that the tree is not potbound. Set out in the fall or early spring,
keeping weeds away from the small seedlings. The ginkgo is hardy in
Variations: Aurea has yellow leaves; variegata has yellow
Another variety: The Chinese grow a ginkgo tree that is 20-39
feet high, grows south of the Yangtse (Salisburia Adiantifolia)
that they call Yin-hsing.
Native to China and Japan and closely related to conifers. Cultivated
in the United States.
Seeds: astringent, expectorant, sedative, antitussive, anti-fungal,
Leaves: relax blood vessels, circulatory stimulant
Ginkgolides and heterosides, volatile oil tannins, resin
Legends, Myths and Stories
The Ginkgo is a "living fossil", the only surviving species of the
large order that existed alongside the dinosaurs and was long believed
to be extinct.
The name "Ginko" comes from the Chinese, meaning "silver fruit" or
"white nuts." Grows abundantly south of the Yangtse and in regions
of the Far East, cultivated in the United States and Europe.
Chinese herbalists have used ginkgo biloba for over 5,000 years.
It is said the trees date back as long ago as 200 million
years and we are just now beginning to understand its medicinal value.
The wild trees are probably extinct now for centuries. One of the
most researched herbs, a great deal of the research is being done
in France and other European countries where it is commonly prescribed.
Studies show that this herb is an antioxidant, meaning it slows the
formation of compounds called free radicals which are believed to
be the cause of premature aging, cancer, and other conditions.
A professor of chemistry at Harvard University, Dr. Elias J.
Corey, in 1988 synthesized a ginkgo compound called ginkgolide
B. This new compound is being investigated as a potential drug
to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs.
Ginkgo biloba expels mucus from bronchioles
and lungs, stops wheezing, inhibits cough, stops leucorrhea, regulates
urination, stops spermatorrhea. The ripe fruit, having been macerated
in sesame oil for 100 days, has been successfully used
in China for the treatment of tuberculosis.
The 24 to 1 extract of the leaf is now a popular herbal
product for a wide variety of vascular problems, especially increasing
vascular circulation to the brain for the treatment of dementia and
Improves memory loss, brain function, cerebral and peripheral circulation,
oxygenation, and blood
flow. Relieves signs of senility, phlebitis,
depression. Good for vertigo
and tinnitus, asthma,
allergies, coughs, colds,
hemorrhoids, positive effect
on the vascular system, increases blood flow to the brain and lower
extremities, heart and kidney disorders, and glucose utilization.
The seed is considered a delicacy in Japan; it is used in steamed
egg custard. Ginkgo is also used in medicines for the respiratory.
Researchers are testing it with elderly people to see if it improves
strength and mental acuity.
Formulas or Dosages
Since the nuts are slightly toxic, they should NOT be taken in large
doses over a long period of time. The shells are an antidote to the
nuts and may be taken with them to help alleviate side-effects. Toxic
symptoms include headache, fever, tremors, irritability, and dyspnea
Licorice also may be used antidotally if the fruits are used.
Dosage is 3-9 gms. (less if fresh)
Capsules, tablets, or tincture
Tablets: take 40 mg. capsules or tablets 3 times
Extract of the leaves or a tea made from the leaves are safe to take
for long periods without problems. Maximum daily doses should be approximately
120 mg. per day.
Mildly toxic. Long-term use is believed to be safe. No known serious
side effects have been reported. However, do not exceed recommended
doses, this may lead to temporary skin disorders and headaches. Cases
of contact dermatitis with the fruit pulp, which is not used medicinally,
have been recorded.