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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Ginkgo Biloba and ADHD

06/20/1998

Question:

What is ginkgo biloba and how can it help ADHD?

Answer:

Ginkgo biloba is the oldest living tree, estimated at 200 million years old. Individual trees may live as long as 2000 years. It has been a mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine for more than 5000 years. It takes from 50 to 75 pounds of the tree leaves to make one pound of concentrated Ginkgo biloba extract. The benefits of ginkgo are thought to come from its bioflavonoids called Ginkgo flavonglycosides and from its lactone terpenes called Ginkgoglides which include Ginkgoglide A, Ginkgoglide B, Ginkgoglide C and Bilobalide. Ginkgo is thought to dilate blood vessels, improving blood circulation and oxygen availability to the brain, thereby enhancing memory and concentration. It is also thought to improve neural transmission and increase the number of receptor sites on the brain cells, which can lead to improved mood and sense of well being. All of these mentioned effects of ginkgo can improve cell metabolism. Impaired cell metabolism, poor blood circulation, and poorly functioning neurotransmitters are all felt to be involved in ADHD; therefore, it would seem that ginkgo should be helpful in this condition. Ginkgo is also thought to inhibit the formation of free radicals, which are oxidizing agents that can cause cell damage. These antioxidant properties help slow the natural aging of cells. The recommended dosing for ginkgo biloba is 60-360 milligrams (mgs) per day for adults. This dose is for standardized formulas containing 24% ginkgo flavonglycosides and 6% terpenes. Begin with 60 mgs and increase the dose until the desired effect is achieved. It may take up to 12 weeks to notice a positive effect. It is best to only use the minimum effective dose. Higher doses may possibly aggravate bleeding potential in persons prone to bleeding problems (such as persons with ulcers, past cerebral strokes, etc.) There are, otherwise, no known toxicities of using ginkgo. Anyone using blood thinners of any type should also be watchful of potential for bleeding. For additional information and references on ginkgo biloba, please visit the link listed below by Larry J. Milham, H.M.D.

Related Resources:

An Herbal Education Series

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Response by:

Margaret C Sweeney, MD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati