Ginkgo biloba Health Benefits
Ginkgo biloba health benefits may include help in treating erectile dysfunction, increasing libido in men, and supporting sexual health. The seeds of the ginkgo tree have been used for at least four thousand years as food and as medicine.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is the name of both the herb and the tree from which the herb is derived. Traditional Chinese herbalists have long used ginkgo to manage asthma, bronchitis, and brain disorders.
Scientists have identified more than 40 components in the ginkgo tree. However, only two seem to possess medicinal properties associated with ginkgo biloba health benefits: flavonoids and terpenoids. Studies show that flavonoids protect the blood vessels, heart muscle, and nerves from damage. Terpenoids (e.g., ginkgolides) improve blood flow, properties that make ginkgo helpful in people who have cardiovascular disease.
Ginkgo is a potent antioxidant that helps prevent free-radical damage to cell membranes. Among other ginkgo biloba health benefits is its ability to promote blood flow to the brain and other areas of the body that are supplied by capillaries. This is the reason why some men use ginkgo to manage erectile dysfunction. The scientific research to back up such claims is limited and the results are mixed.
Ginkgo Biloba and Erectile Dysfunction
In a early double-blind study, researchers reported that men who took 240 mg per day of standardized ginkgo biloba extract for nine months experienced an improvement in erectile function. (Sohn 1991) Another early study involved 60 men who did not respond to papaverine injections, who were then given 60 mg ginkgo biloba extract daily for 12 to 18 months. Use of ultrasonography identified an improvement in blood perfusion after 6 to 8 weeks in some of the participants. After 6 months, half of the patients regained erectile function. In a lesser number of men, papaverine injections were successful later. (Sikora 1989)
An open preliminary trial of ginkgo was conducted involving 30 men who were experiencing erectile dysfunction related to use of antidepressant medications. (The study also included 33 women experiencing medication-related sexual dysfunction.) All the participants took either 60 mg of ginkgo four times daily or 120 mg twice daily. Ginkgo biloba health benefits included a positive impact on sexual function in 76 percent of the men and 91 percent of the women. (Cohen 1998)
In a study published in Human Psychopharmacology, investigators reported that ginkgo (240 mg daily) produced “some spectacular individual responses” among individuals who were experiencing sexual dysfunction associated with the use of antidepressants. Some of these good results also occurred in participants who took a placebo. (Wheatley 2004) In a review article from the same year, the authors noted that there was “some degree of evidence” that ginkgo biloba was helpful for erectile dysfunction. (McKay 2004)
How to Take Ginkgo biloba
No specific dose of ginkgo biloba has been identified especially for erectile dysfunction. However, 120 to 240 mg daily, standardized to contain 24 to 32 percent flavones glycosides and 6 to 12 percent terpenoids, is typical to improve blood flow. (University of Maryland) Ginkgo is considered a very safe herb. Side effects are rare and may include gastrointestinal upset, headache, dizziness, and skin reactions.
Cohen AJ, Bartlik B. Ginkgo biloba for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. J Sex Marital Ther 1998;24:139–43.
McKay D. Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence. Altern Med Rev 2004 Mar; 9(1): 4-16
Sikora R et al. Ginkgo biloba extract in the therapy of erectile dysfunction. J Urol. 1989;142:188A.
Sohn M, Sikora R. Ginkgo biloba extract in the therapy of erectile dysfunction. J Sec Educ Ther 1991;17:53–61.
University of Maryland Medical Center, for ginkgo biloba health benefits: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginkgo-biloba-000247.htm
Wheatley D. Triple-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Ginkgo biloba in sexual dysfunction due to antidepressant drugs. Hum Psychopharmacol 2004 Dec; 19(8): 545-48.