Suffering from tinnitus—a ringing and pulsing sensation in the ears—can affect many people throughout their lifetime, with various underlying causes. It is a burden and an overwhelming source of stress, leaving those with tinnitus seeking various forms of relief. One popular treatment for tinnitus is the use of ginkgo biloba.
Tinnitus is a burdensome condition and tinnitus symptoms such as hearing loss or a ringing in the ears affect our well-being on so many levels and can make it impossible for some to focus on work, enjoy time with family or even participate in favorite hobbies. It can be caused by many things such as
- poor blood flow
- damaged blood vessels
- noise-induced hearing loss
It can interfere with physical and emotional health, and there is no known cure. But, there are ways to alleviate and reduce tinnitus, and many seek natural treatments that have been known to provide tinnitus relief, such as gingko biloba.
What is ginkgo biloba?
Gingko biloba extract, an herb that can be used in capsule, powder, tablet, or liquid form, is known for its antioxidant and circulation-improving properties to aid the treatment of tinnitus. The active compounds in gingko biloba—flavonoids and terpenoids—are helpful in dilating blood vessels and it is, therefore, used to treat a variety of blood vessel disorders (which are often associated with the presence of tinnitus).
The gingko biloba tree, which is a large tree with fan-shaped leaves, is native to China but also grown in Europe and the United States. Gingko leaf has many medicinal properties; it has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of conditions and disorders, from asthma to Alzheimer’s disease. Gingko trees can live for up to one thousand years, so it is likely we will continue to find new ways to use this medicinal plant to promote healing. Roasted gingko seed is even a delicacy enjoyed in some parts of the world, especially China and Japan. (Though it also comes with some warnings and possible side effects, which we will get to later.)
How gingko biloba is used to treat tinnitus
When gingko biloba extract works to increase blood flow, this has an impact on the micro capillaries that feed into the inner ear. And because tinnitus is so often associated with blood disorders, this treatment can provide relief for sufferers. (Not to mention it can help with headaches and other conditions that may also affect those with tinnitus.)
The most important thing to consider before using gingko biloba to treat tinnitus is the amount of bilobalide found in the brand you choose. Bilobalide works to antagonize glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter that can trigger tinnitus. The bilobalide in gingko biloba lessens the impact of the glutamate or calms the brain and reduces tinnitus. However, in order to do this effectively, the gingko biloba must have at least 3.5% bilobalide. The vast majority of gingko products available do not meet this percentage, many with only 0.5% bilobalide or less. Therefore, it is important to do your homework and find the right product to provide the relief you need.
Possible side effects and other considerations when using gingko biloba
While gingko biloba is generally tolerated well by most users suffering from tinnitus, some possible side effects to consider are nausea, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, restlessness or rapid heartbeat. Pregnant women are advised not to use gingko biloba due to potential complications to the pregnancy and, in all cases, users should certainly discuss the use of gingko biloba with their primary care physicians.
Those with liver conditions or taking antidepressants or anticonvulsants are also advised to not use gingko biloba. While gingko biloba seeds may have some potentially dangerous effects, most supplements are made from the leaf sources and not the seeds of the tree. (Again, do your homework on the product you are considering and ensure it comes from a leaf source.) Children and patients with diabetes are also advised not to use gingko biloba.
Gingko biloba inhibits monoamine oxidase, which can reduce the effects of serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac or Zoloft.
As with any new supplement or medication, proper dosage is key in order to see its benefits and avoid potential complications. A physician should be consulted to determine the proper dosage for you, though for most people this is generally considered to be 120 mg per day, taken in several doses. Users should also bear in mind that it may take up to four to six weeks to start to see the positive benefits of gingko biloba. While we often want immediate relief for a burdensome condition, patience and consistency can also be key to finding that relief!