Ginkgo biloba is an ancient Chinese herbal remedy that has been shown to have significant neuroprotective effects. Although ginkgo has a mild effect in protecting against mild cognitive impairment/dementia, it probably does not prevent it.
Ginkgo is being investigated along with other drugs for treatment of schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for protection against the neural damage caused by antipsychotics, and for the treatment of depression.
These are all unproven uses, but given ginkgo's relatively low cost and benign risk profile, consumers may wish to try ginkgo for these conditions. Concerns about pregnancy, breast-feeding and child use are minimal.
Ginkgo has anticoagulant effects (though bleeding problems have not been noted in studies), may increase blood concentrations of some drugs used for treating hypertension, may affect insulin and blood sugar levels, and may affect blood pressure. Potential interactions with MAOI, SSRI and antipsychotic drugs have been noted, but have not yet been confirmed in humans. The prescribing physician should be consulted before using ginkgo in combination with these drugs.
Ginkgo appears safe overall and that side effects are rare.
Rhodiola, SAM-e, folate, omega-3s, and CDP-choline may provide alternatives now that ginkgo has been shown to be less effective a remedy than it had been previously thought.