Ginkgo biloba leaf extract: review of biological actions and clinical applications

Antioxid Redox Signal. 1999 Winter;1(4):469-80. doi: 10.1089/ars.1999.1.4-469.


The number of studies on Ginkgo biloba leaves is rapidly increasing. A variety of effects of Ginkgo biloba leaf extract (GBLE) have been identified. GBLE contains many different flavone glycosides and terpenoides. GBLE has an antioxidant action as a free radical scavenger, a relaxing effect on vascular walls, an antagonistic action on platelet-activating factor, an improving effect on blood flow or microcirculation, and a stimulating effect on neurotransmitters. Besides a direct scavenging action on active oxygen species, GBLE exerts an anti-inflammatory effect on inflammatory cells by suppressing the production of active oxygen and nitrogen species. GBLE inhibited the increase in the products of the oxidative decomposition low-density lipoprotein (LDL), reduced the cell death in various types of neuropathy, and prevented the oxidative damage to mitochondria, suggesting that GBLE exhibits beneficial effects on neuron degenerative diseases by preventing chronic oxidative damage. The study using a model of ischemia-reperfusion injury has also demonstrated the protective effect of GBLE on cardiac muscle and its antioxidative action in vivo. Favorable results have been obtained in double-blind, placebo-controlled, comparative trials of patients with memory disorders, obstructive arteriosclerosis, and dementia. We review the recent studies on GBLE with respect to its various pharmacological actions, such as a scavenging activity on free radicals and an inhibitory action on lipid peroxidation. GBLE shows a very strong scavenging action on free radicals, and is thus considered to be useful for the treatment of diseases related to the production of free radicals, such as ischemic heart disease, cerebral infarction, chronic inflammation, and aging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacokinetics
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Ginkgo biloba / chemistry*
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Molecular Structure
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacokinetics
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species