Photo: Herbert E. Maas

Botanical name

Ginkgo tree - Ginkgo biloba L.


Ginkgo family (Ginkgoaceae)

Common name

Elephant ear tree, Maiden hair tree, Japanese temple tree

Useful information about the plant

The ginkgo tree grows up to 30 to 40m high, it is the only living Mesozoic representative on Earth in the widespread Ginkgoatae, a subspecies of the gymnosperms. It is native to eastern Asia, but it is no longer wild there, but has been cultivated since ancient times as a temple tree. Since it is very decorative and highly resistant to air pollution, it is now planted in Europe and North America, in cities as an ornamental tree. The tree is dioecious, i.e. there are trees with male and trees with female blossoms. The Latin name is the result of a spelling error, the fighter (1651-1716) from the Japanese word "gin = silver" and "kyo = fruit" has been formed and was adopted by Linnaeus (actually Ginkyo). Thus referring to the silvery, edible seeds in the apricot-like fruit. The epithet biloba refers to the tree with its typical bilobed leaves with their forked venation (Latin ‘bilobus’ = bilobed).

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The dried leaves are used

Ingredients of the drug

Ginkgo leaves contain flavonoids, diterpenlactone (ginkgolides) and bilobalide ginkgolic.

Descriptions of the quality

The quality of the following drugs or drug preparations is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur):

  • Ginkgo leaves (Ginkgo folium)
  • Quantified purified dried extract ginkgo (Ginkgo extractum siccum raffinatum et quantificatum)

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

  • Symptomatic treatment of organic mental disorders related deficiencies as part of an overall therapeutic approach in dementia syndromes: impaired memory, impaired concentration, depression, vertigo, tinnitus and headaches. The primary target group includes patients with dementia in primary degenerative dementia, vascular dementia and mixed forms.
  • Extension of the pain-free walking distance in peripheral arterial occlusive disease in stage II according to Fontaine (Claudicatio intermittens) in physical-therapeutic measures, particularly gait training.
  • Vertigo, tinnitus, vascular or involutional of origin.
(Commission E, ESCOP, clinical studies)

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products

  • A special dried extract with a drug-extract ratio (DEV native) of 35-67:1 (extraction solvent: acetone 60%) are processed in solid and liquid dosage forms. The extract is quantified at 22-27% flavonoids, calculated as flavonoid glycosides and 5-7% terpene lactones, of which 2.8 to 3.4% are ginkgolides A, B and C and 2.6 to 3.1% bilobalide
  • Ginkgo tincture in liquid preparations


Prepared drugs: see package insert;
With a tea made from ginkgo leaves the effective dose is not reached, so drinking a ginkgo tea is discouraged. Additionally, the concentration of harmful ginkgolic in the commercially available tea is not controlled.


Ginkgo preparations must be avoided in any form with hypersensitivity to Ginkgo biloba. During pregnancy and breast-feeding ginkgo should not be used without consulting the doctor, because as yet there is no experience on its harmlessness.

Side effects

When taking ginkgo, mild gastrointestinal complaints, headaches or allergic skin reactions may occur very rarely. Individual cases of bleeding were observed with the long-term use of ginkgo, their causal association with the use of ginkgo preparations is uncertain. A simultaneous intake of drugs that inhibit blood clotting is discouraged.


Drug monographs

Commission E, ESCOP, WHO (Vol. 1)

Further reading

Wichtl: Teedrogen und Phytopharmaka, pg. 301
Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 107
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 158
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Ginkgo leaves, no. 1828; Ginkgo dried extract, no. 1827)

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