GINKGO

Ginkgo biloba

Common Name: Ginkgo, Maidenhair Tree
Family: Ginkgoaceae 
Part/s Used: Leaves
Energetics: Neutral, mildly warming 
Taste: Bitter, pungent, tart, astringent, mildly sweet  
Actions: Cerebral stimulant, antioxidant, nootropic, anticoagulant 
Planet: Mercury

Medicinal Preparations:

Tincture (ratio & alcohol %): Fresh: 1:3 or 1:4   Dry: 1:5 60%
Drops: 10-60   Times a day: 3x

Tea: Hot infusion 
Ounces: 6-12   Times a day: 1-2x
Can be overstimulating for some people 

Habitat and Botanical Description: 

Ginkgo is said to be one the oldest tree species in the world with fossils tracing back to 200 million years ago. A single Ginkgo tree can live for a thousand years and has remained unchanged due to its resilience against environmental stress. It is endemic to southeastern china and is abundantly cultivated throughout the world. Although it is not rare, it is listed as endangered because it is rarely found growing in the wild. Ginkgo’s are large trees reaching a height of 60-115 ft with some specimens in China being over 165 ft. During the Autumn, the leaves turn a bright yellow, then fall. Sometimes losing all their leaves within a two-week period.

Medicinal Uses:

In western herbalism, Ginkgo is seen as having an affinity for the head, the brain, the eyes, and the circulatory system. Ginkgo increases cerebral circulation. A nootropic herb that supports cognitive health by thinning the blood and supplying the brain with freshly oxygenated blood, thus, improving mental focus, mental clarity, short term memory and visual clarity. Ginkgo stimulates all the blood vessels that go up into the head and into the brain thus delivering more oxygen, glucose, and nutrients. Therefore, many will use Ginkgo to clear brain fog and improve short term memory when studying for exams. Though we think of Ginkgo as a stimulant, it is primarily working through the cardiovascular system. Not a direct circulatory stimulant or a driver that warms up the solar plexus like rosemary or cayenne. It is one of the best peripheral vasodilators and blood thinners, so in this way increases circulation so the blood can move easily and freely through the system. An excellent choice for those with high blood pressure.

Ginkgo is one of our major remedies for the eyes and pairs nicely with rosemary and eye bright. This is a great three-part formula for people with poor eyesight, eye fatigue etc. There are several tiny capillary beds around the eyes are hard to get to and ginkgo is specific for targeting these areas.

Harvesting: 

In the late summer or early fall, harvest the mature Ginkgo leaves just before they start to yellow. Carefully pull the leaves from the branch. Can be processed fresh or dried for later use. The dried Ginkgo is said to have a sweet and more gentle effect.

Recommended Products:

Contraindications:

Ginkgo can be over stimulating for some people, energizing by increasing blood flow to the brain and people can be sensitive to this. Can heighten anxiety (too much dopamine), restlessness, nervous system disorders and insomnia. Take as a single herb first to test for a couple weeks. Gingko can increase sensitivity to caffeine but makes a good replacement. Because of its blood thinning nature, Ginkgo is contraindicated for surgery, 2 weeks before and after. Should not be used with people with bleeding disorders or low blood pressure. Use caution with pregnancy 2 weeks before delivery and with breastfeeding. Ginkgo can stimulate the baby through the breastmilk. When people are pregnant they already have increased circulation and have more blood in general. They are already prone to nausea and headaches and ginkgo has the potential to exacerbate these symptoms. 

 

Sources:

Vitalist Herbal Practitioner Program Class Notes by Sajah Popham  
Northwest School for Botanical Studies by Christa Sinadinos
The Way of Herbs by Matthew Wood

Disclosure: This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.