Close up of a ginkg biloba branch with a ton of leaves on it

Ginkgo biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree, the fossil tree and the kew tree, is one very interesting tree.  Most trees have evolved from earlier forms from prehistoric times, but the Ginkgo is genetically the same tree it was back in the dinosaur days, even before.  It is genetically the oldest species of tree in the world. 

The ginkgo’s leaves are fan shaped, often with two lobes, hence the name Ginkgo Biloba.  But the striking thing about a ginkgo leaf is its venation.  Venation is how scientists refer to the arrangement of the veins in a leaf. All the main veins come out from the stem and run the whole length of the leaf.  There is no branching to smaller veins except maybe on a microscopic level.  There is nothing in this leaf but main veins. 

Ginkgo Biloba Tree

The ginkgo is the only tree left on earth that has leaves like this. This reminds me of that old simplistic principle of similarities - that a health food resembles the body part that it nourishes the most.  For example walnuts and pecans resemble the brain and kidney beans are good for the kidney.  Well I may have laughed at the  ridiculousness of this, but nuts do nourish the brain and kidney beans do help the kidneys clean themselves out.  And as stupid as it sounds, it is uncanny how often this principle pans out. 

Close up on a ginkgo biloba leave on the tree

I mention this principle because the current main claim to fame of the ginkgo is that it affects the blood vessels in the brain to increase sharp thinking and memory.  Imagine if all your brain blood vessels were opened wide like a main blood vessel. That would affect a lot of things wouldn’t it? This agrees with current theories about how Ginkgo biloba works.

You could really go down a rabbit hole studying all the compounds found in Ginkgo biloba.  From what I have been able to garner from going down said rabbit hole, there are about 40 compounds that are of interest to pharmacology and the making of drugs.

Ginkgo Biloba Top Compounds

Two classes of compounds, which have many compounds within them, would be of interest to us in nutrition and its effects on biological function. 

You have probably heard of them: Flavonoids and terpenoids. Flavonoids could be simplified by thinking of them as plant based antioxidants that can protect delicate tissues like the fine nerves of the eyes, ears, lungs, sex organs, brain etc. from free radical damage and terpenoids are like solvents. 

Terpenoids in the body tend to thin things out like the blood because it can reduce the stickiness of blood platelets. They can also dilate the blood vessels by cutting through substances that make the blood vessel clumped, rigid and/or clogged. Nitric Oxide is involved in helping and controlling this process. Most essential oils contain terpenoids. 

Ginkgo leaves in a porcelain mortar with pestle on a wood table.

Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba increases nitric oxide to relax the walls of the blood vessels that allows them to open up wider.  This increases oxygen which may have beneficial effects on:

  • Memory

  • Circulation

  • Increased Libido

  • Improved Vision

Ginkgo has also been found to have benefits of:

  • Opens blood vessels and makes blood less sticky
  • Helps Intermittent Claudication - This refers to pain in muscles that occurs during activity and stops after some rest. Claudication comes from the latin word claudare which means to limp because the hips and legs are the most common place this occurs causing a person to limp, but it can occur anywhere like in the arms and shoulders for instance.

  • Reduction of PMS symptoms

Cautions and Recommendations

Since Ginkgo does contain so many phytochemical compounds it can react with drugs so, if you are taking any medication, even over the counter drugs, your doctor can help you find the right dosage of ginkgo by blood test or tell you if it’s not recommended to mix them at all. 

For instance if you take blood thinners, you wouldn’t want to then take ginkgo without finding the exact right dose because then your blood may end up dangerously thin. 

Most Ginkgo biloba side effects came about from it being mixed with drugs or other substances that caused problems.

Some allergic reactions were also reported.  Some schools of healing would argue that those weren’t allergies, but healing reactions that if persisted through would improve the health, but no one but the very brave would recommend that you do that for litigious reasons. 

The recommendation is if you take ginkgo and you get a bad reaction like a headache or a rash discontinue immediately.  Only you can decide what is best for you.


In summary, the Ginkgo biloba tree is a miraculous tree that has come down through the ages to help us all out. Its flavonoids and terpenoids help protect and preserve our bodies especially in the delicate areas we want to keep young and it increases flows which are life to us.

Herbal Roots Ginkgo Biloba is made with 1200mg of pure organic ginkgo biloba leaf and 200mg 24/6 ginkgo biloba extract.

 Herbal Roots Ginkgo Biloba

  *This article is intended for informational purposes. The statements above have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


Rosalie Roder got her Bachelors' degrees in Chemistry and Biology from Mary Baldwin University in 1983. After graduation, with that background, her real education on natural health and healing and human potential began. It is a never ending study and she is always happy to share what she has found out so far.