3.5.3 Ginkgo

Ginkgo #

Binomial / Botanical Name Ginkgo Biloba
Street Names Ginkgo; Maidenhair Tree
Major Active Compound Flavonoids; Terpenes
Indigenous Source China
Form Powdered Leaves
RoA Oral
Personal Rating On Shulgin Scale +**


Found in fossils dating back 270 million years, ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest species of tree on earth. Its leaves have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and more recently extracts have been sold as a dietary supplement. Despite this, its efficacy is disputed.

What isn’t contested is that it can produce a number of adverse side effects, and consequently, should not be used unless in full health. Also, it should never be used by individuals with allergic reactions to alkylphenol-producing plants.

It is claimed that ginkgo improves mental alertness and clarity, as well as enhancing memory and overall brain functionality, particularly in older people. Other claims I have occasionally encountered include improved vision, increased energy and mood elevation.

Regarding dosage, I identified no universally agreed figures, although I did find numerous suggestions that a single 120mg-240mg dose would have an effect. Interestingly, many included advice that it should be taken with food.

I noted however that all these reports seemed to refer to standardized extracts, rather than to the raw leaves. Seeking information on the latter, I found a number of references to ginkgo tea, including brands which comprised solely of the leaves.

From the explorer’s perspective, this does seem to be the way to go. Unfortunately though, my supply is of powdered leaf, meaning that I am likely to swallow some if not all of it. Furthermore, as with extracts, investigation into dosage in this form was not conclusive, with identified recommendations ranging from 2g-7g.

Due to the possible side effects referred to earlier, the potential to cause allergic reactions and suggestions of toxicity of certain leaf constituents*, I decide to temper my inclination to push too high.
[* “However, the ginkgolic acid (GA) contained in GBE is proved to be highly allergenic and cytotoxic, even minimal residual could also cause severe adverse effects.” ~ PMID: 22568222]

I measure a 6g dose, pour it into a teapot, and stir. Shortly thereafter I pour into a large cup. I notice that much of the powder has dissolved into the water, making it a muddy brown/green colour. A little sediment is left in the tea pot, which I discard.

I begin to sip the tea (on an empty stomach) [9:30am]. Ten minutes later, some dark green sludge remains at the bottom of the cup, which again I discard.

Almost straight away I actually feel something: a light head buzz. I’m not convinced that this is a nootropic type of enhancement, but rather, it is a light headedness with a strange quality to it, and some sensation behind the eyes.

After an hour, a settled buzz remains in the background. It isn’t unpleasant; just unexpected. Again, measuring a nootropic value is difficult, but this is definitely psychoactive. I feel fairly relaxed with it, and given that I remain tired from an unsettled night, I don’t feel overly stimulated.

The head presence still remains after a couple of hours, having evolved to possess a dreamy sort of aura. There is also a certain clarity in play when I choose to focus, which could now perhaps be defined as nootropic in nature. From a recreational perspective this is quite interesting.

From here, the effects fade slowly during the next few hours.

Following this, whilst I noticed no adverse effects, the night’s sleep did have a strange edge to it. Note here that claims of lucid dreaming are quite common.

Overall, ginkgo delivered far more than I expected. The buzz and tingly sensations about the head were unmistakable, and the later clarity came with a hard-to-define almost dreamy headiness.

This is probably worth further exploration for nootropic enthusiasts, although the warnings referred to above certainly need to be considered and taken on board.