biloba (ginkgo) is a popular herbal supplement. These supplements are made from extracts of the leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree, one of the longest living trees in the world. The product is said to be useful for many different medicinal uses, although most people take it to improve memory or mental functioning.
It is not exactly clear how ginkgo biloba works. There appear to be a wide variety of different active compounds in it, and a combination of several of these active compounds are likely responsible for the actions of ginkgo biloba. Some of these compounds have "blood-thinning" properties, helping to keep blood platelets from sticking together. Other compounds work as antioxidants, protecting cells from free radical damage. Ginkgo biloba may also help to prevent cell damage caused by beta-amyloid proteins (which may contribute to Alzheimer's disease
). There are several other theoretical effects, which have been demonstrated in laboratory studies but not yet in humans, that may also contribute to the actions of ginkgo biloba.
Is Ginkgo Biloba Effective?
Ginkgo biloba may be effective for several uses, although larger studies are needed to confirm the early positive findings of some studies. However, some alleged uses have no scientific basis whatsoever.