Ginkgo Biloba and How it Can Help Depression

Ginkgo Biloba and How it Can Help Depression

Ginkgo biloba is also known as ginkgo or maidenhair tree. This memory herb increases the supply of nutrients and oxygen and improves brain circulation. It helps the body to eliminate free radicals thereby improving memory, alertness, clarity, depression and apathy in some people. The earliest trial of ginkgo for depression was investigated for its potential to prevent the onset of seasonal affective disorders that affect the mood of a person (Dai et al., 2018). The study began about one month before seasonal depression usually started in the persons and before they had any of its symptoms. After 10 weeks of treatment, there were no significant signs of depressive mood has been observed. 

Mechanisms of Action to relieve depression

Like all herbal remedies, Ginkgo biloba extract contains a large number of active compounds for the treatment of depression (Dording and Boyden, 2019). These active compounds include flavone, ginkgolide B, and bilobalide components exert concentration-dependent antioxidant, metabolic, antidepressant, antiplatelet, and neurotransmitter regulatory effects that modulate cerebro-vasculature, receptor/ transmitter activity, glucose metabolism, and electroencephalographic activity. The extract also contains ginkoflavone glycosides (16-25%), terpenes trilactone (6%), and about 5 ppm of ginkogolic acids which may cause allergic reactions (Yeh et al., 2015). Following is the effect of active compounds to reduce depression.

  1. Effects of Flavonol Constituents on Dopamine and Acetylcholine Release

EGb 761 and its flavonol constituents increased dopamine and acetylcholine release in rat medial prefrontal cortex, with acylated flavonol glycosides quercetin and kaempferol as the putative constituents contributing to the relaxing effects and to relieve the depression.

  1. Cerebral Blood Flow, Metabolism, Antioxidant, antidepressant and Anti-inflammatory Properties

Flavonoids act as free radical scavengers, and terpene lactones (ginkgolides) inhibit PAF, thereby facilitating blood flow through arteries and veins in various tissues. Pretreatment with high-dose ginkgo can benefit cerebrovascular disease and vascular dementia by reducing ischemia reperfusion injury, enhancing cerebral blood flow, and inhibiting platelets. Hypothesized neuroprotective mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease include nitric oxide toxicity; antiapoptosis (via intracellular signaling pathways, flavonoids, and terpenes); anti-inflammation (protection against mitochondrial dysfunction, amyloidogenesis), antidepressant and Aβ aggregation (ion homeostasis; modulation of tau protein phosphorylation, and possibly induction of growth factors).

  1. Electroencephalographic and Event-Related Potential-Mediated Mechanisms

Ginkgo-induced changes in P300 latency and increases in the power of higher frequency electroencephalogram components are consistent with enhanced processing efficiency, memory and reduce the depression state (Diamond and Mondragon, 2017).

Ginkgo biloba dosage for depression

Most of the ginkgo biloba studies have suggested the standardized preparation called EGb 761. The recommended dosage to treat depression is 120-240 mg per day of the standard extract, divided into two or three doses (Diamond and Mondrogon, 2017).


women who are suffering from depression should avoid ginkgo and encourage to pursue alternative treatments that have been suggested to be effective and safe. Because the over intake of ginkgo biloba may cause infertility in women. Women should always encourage to investigate why she feeling depressed. Different type of strategies including talking or counseling and medical treatment. 

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Dai, C. X., Hu, C. C., Shang, Y. S., & Xie, J. (2018). Role of Ginkgo biloba extract as an adjunctive treatment of elderly patients with depression and on the expression of serum S100B. Medicine, 97(39).

Diamond, B. J., & Mondragon, A. (2017). Ginkgo biloba. Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice. Washington: American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 149.

Dording, C. M., & Boyden, S. D. (2019). Depression, Antidepressants, and Sexual Functioning. In The Massachusetts General Hospital Guide to Depression (pp. 123-137). Humana Press, Cham.

Yeh, K. Y., Shou, S. S., Lin, Y. X., Chen, C. C., Chiang, C. Y., & Yeh, C. Y. (2015). Effect of Ginkgo biloba Extract on Lipopolysaccharide‐induced Anhedonic Depressive‐like Behavior in Male Rats. Phytotherapy research, 29(2), 260-266.