Gingko to Prevent Heart Disease. . .Or Not

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • It'd be so easy if we could just take something that would protect us against heart attacks and stokes. For this reason many people have used the supplement Ginkgo biloba.


    Ginkgo biloba is an herbal extract that is said to improve circulation and cognitive abilities. There have been numerous functions associated with Ginkgo biloba, such as:


    • Reduced blood clotting
    • Reduced inflammation
    • Improved circulation
    • Improved brain function


    Ginkgo biloba is an antioxidant known as a flavonoid. Flavonoids are typically found in fruits, vegetables, red wine, and dark chocolate.


    Recent Research and Peripheral Artery Disease

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    However, University of Pittsburgh researchers found no benefit for in preventing dementia in a 2008 study. Further evaluation of this 2008 study has recently presented new findings in regards to the herb's role in preventing cardiovascular disease.


    The 3,069 study participants, with an average age of 79 years-old, were divided into two groups. One group received 120 mg of ginkgo biloba twice a day; the second group received a placebo twice a day. Over half the participants (55 percent) had high blood pressure and 25 percent a history of cardiovascular disease. During a six year period, 385 died, 164 were hospitalized due to heart attacks, 151 had a stroke, 73 suffered transient ischemic attacks, and 207 experienced angina (chest pain).


    Researchers did not find a significant difference in heart related events between the group who received ginkgo biloba versus those who did not.


    However, there were 35 study participants who had major treatment for peripheral artery disease (PAD). Out of these 35 individuals, 23 received the placebo while 12 received ginkgo biloba. Researchers not that this is a statistically significant difference and it's worth looking further into the role Ginkgo biloba may play in treating peripheral artery disease.


    Peripheral artery disease impacts approximately 8 million American's and current preventive therapies need to be expanded upon and improved.


    Recommended Dose


    If you use or are considering using the herbal supplement Ginkgo biloba, the recommended dosage is 60 to 120 mg. I recommend discussing all herbs you take with your physician. There is always potential for a drug interaction with other medications or supplements you may use.


    Potential Side Effects


    Some side effects linked to Ginkgo biloba include headaches, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. If you experience these symptoms you should discontinue the supplement. You should not use Ginkgo biloba if you use blood thinners, are pregnant, or take MAOI inhibitors.


    Be sure to sign up for the free e-course 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure provided by Health Central dietitian Lisa Nelson at

Published On: April 30, 2011