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Ginkgo Biloba (bai guo)

By: Joe Hing Kwok Chu

Click here to see picture of ginkgo.

Pharmaceutical name:


 Semen Ginkgo Bilobae
Biological name:


 Ginkgo biloba L.
Pronounced in Japanese:


 ginkyo (yin guo)
Pronounced in Korean:


 unhaeng (yin xing)
Pronounced in Cantonese:


 bak kwo, ngen kwo, ngen heng
Common Name:  ginkgo nut
Distribution:  throughout China and some parts of north America
Parts Being Used:


Traditionally, seeds were used. Now leaves are also being used for making extracts.
Characteristics and channel (meridian) relation:



sweet, bitter, astringent, mildly toxic and very toxic for children. Channels related: kidney, lung




As a tonic. Lowers sludge level in blood. Expels phlegm and stops wheezing cough. Eliminates damp heat,  dampness and stops vaginal discharge in yeast infection. For incontinence, spermatorrhea (involuntary discharge of semen without orgasm), and frequent urination.
Chemical ingredients:






















1. Flavin type of compounds

(1) flavonol:

kaempferol[1],kaempferol-3-rhamnoglucoside[2]  hepatasacetyl kaempferol glucoside[3], kaempferol-3(6'-p-coumaroyl-glucosy1)-b-1,rh-amnoside] [4], quercetin, isorthamnetin [1], octaacetyl quercetin 3-glucoside [3], rutin [2].

(2) flavin and its glucosides

heptaacetyl luteolin glucoside, octaaccetyldelphidenon glucoside[3].

(3) dihydro-flavonol

 dihydro-catechin-pentaacetate, dihydro-epicatechin-pentaacetate, dihydro-gallocatechin-hexacetate, dihydro-epigallocatechin-hexacetate, are derivatives of catechin [3].

(4) bi-flavonol

bilobetin, ginkgetin, sciadopitysin, I-5'-methoxy-bilobetin, a-mentoflavone [5]



2. Phenols

ginkgolic acid, hydroginkgolic acid, ginkgolinic acid, ginkgol, bilobol [6],

 anacardic acid.


3. Organic acids

quinic acid, linoleic acid, shikimic acid, asorbic acid [3]. Skin contains formic acid, propionic acid, butyric acid, caprylic acid.


4. Alcohol groups

a-hexenol, sequoyitol, pinite, hexacosanol-1, octacosanol-1[3] , b-sitosterol , nonacosyl alcohol-10[10] ,ginnol [6].

5. Trace minerals and others

ginkgo-B (a saponin), d-sesamin [3]. Seed contains small amount of cyanophoric glucoside, gibberellin, cytokininlike substances. Protein 6.4, fat 2.4, carbohydrates 36%,  calcium10 mg, phophorus 218 mg, iron, carotene 320 mg,  riboflavine 50 mg, various amino acids. External skin contains asparagine.


Medical functions:























1. Effect on Respiratory System

2. Effect on Smooth Muscles

3. Effect on Circulatory System

4. Effect on Brain Circulation

5. Effect on Free Radicals

6. Effect of Anti Bacteria

7. Other Effects

8. Toxicity Side Effect

 The outer skin of the fruit contains ginkgo toxin. Ginkgo phenols and ginkgo toxin possess effect of hemolysis. Ginkgo toxin possesses  an anesthetic  effect on the central nervous system of frogs. A venous injection of 0.2g/kg on rabbits causes temporary raising of blood pressure then  with subsequent dropping of blood  pressure, breathing difficulty, panic and death.  Using the neutral portion of the gingko seed for skin injection of 6mg/kg also can cause death for mice. Using a large dosage of ginkgo leaf extract for venous injection continually for one week on dogs causes salivating, vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. In lab examination of tissues, it shows the increase of mucus secretion of the lower abdomen. Local injection causes local blood vessels to harden. It shows that in dogs and rabbits under anesthesia, the movement of intestines increases. A normal amount of flavonol does not affect the blood clotting time. A large dosage can interfere with the blood clotting time. Venous injections of 242mg/kg (in 95% of the cases, 229.6~256.2/kg could be  the fatal limits), of  di-flavonol were applied to mice  and caused acute toxicity symptoms of rapid breathing, sprawling still, and eventually all  died of breathing paralysis.

Raw ginkgo nuts are toxic. Consuming a large amount can cause vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea, spasm, anxiety, and breathing difficulties.

Present Day Applications: 









1. Labyrinthine syndrome

2. Pimples

3. Urolithiasis (formation of calculi in the urinary tract.)

Formulae: root of gingko biloba 120 g, rock cane sugar 120 g. Boil with water. Taken orally. 4~5 doses a week. If there is infection of urinary track, use Ba Zheng San with bai hua she she cao. Drink plenty of liquid and excercise (editor note: preferably qigong dong gong). Out of fifty patients, thirty two were healed. Ten patients were improved. Eight patients did not improve.  Average treatment time was 133 days. [3]

Sample of Formulae: Ding Chuan Tang
More on Toxicity: also  see toxicity of herb


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