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Danger of Ginkgo Biloba & Side Effects

Ginkgo Biloba being new in market makes people doubt "Is Ginkgo Biloba harmful?"

There are some Ginkgo Biloba side effects but these are very mild and have no importance as compared to the benefits Ginkgo Biloba provides.

Though Ginkgo Biloba falls under the category of herbal remedies but still it needs the supervision of a doctor when being administered.

Make sure your doctor knows what other medicines you are taking, when you started taking Ginkgo Biloba extract, in which form you are taking it and for what purpose you are taking the Ginkgo Biloba extracts?

Ginkgo Biloba extracts tend to have anti clotting effect and it increases the circulation, so care should be taken when using it along the blood diluting drugs such as Warfrin, Heparin, Aspirin or any other medicine.

If used along these serious adverse effects can happen like intracranial hemorrhage. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using ginkgo preparations.

There can be serious bleeding at the time of delivery so Ginkgo Biloba is not advised in pregnancy and lactation phases. In addition, ginkgo use should be discontinued at least 36 hours prior to surgery due to the risk of bleeding complications. Do not ingest Ginkgo Biloba fruit or seed. Many human toxic reactions are reported if the leaves or the fruit has been ingested.   

Usually minor side effects do happen but for initial few days. These side effects are gastrointestinal upset, headaches, skin irritations, minor rashes and dizziness. There are certain drug reactions that need to be taken care of when taken along, or should be avoided if possible. The list of the medicines that tend to react is as follows:

Anticonvulsant medications

 High doses of Ginkgo could decrease the efficacy of anticonvulsant therapy, such as Carbamazepine or Valproic acid, in controlling seizures.

Antidepressant medications

Taking ginkgo along with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) antidepressants, including Fluoxetin, Sertraline, Paroxetine, and Escitalopram may cause serotonin syndrome. This condition is characterized by rigidity, tachycardia, hyperthermia, restlessness, and diaphoresis.  

Antihypertensive medications

Ginkgo may decrease blood pressure, so use of ginkgo along with prescription antihypertensive medications should be monitored by a health care provider. There has been a report of an interaction between Ginkgo and Nifedipine which is a calcium channel blocking drug used for blood pressure and arrhythmias.

 Anti coagulating medications

Ginkgo has blood-thinning properties and therefore should be avoided with aspirin, Clopidogrel, Dipyridamole, Heparin, Ticlopidine, or Warfarin. There has been bleeding in the brain reported when using a ginkgo product and ibuprofen a known NSAID.

Blood sugar lowering medications

Ginkgo increases insulin levels in healthy subjects and to decrease insulin levels in diabetic patients. Use ginkgo supplements under the supervision of a health care provider if you are diabetic and taking insulin or oral blood sugar lowering drugs.

Cylosporine

Ginkgo Biloba may help protect the cells of the body during treatment with the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporine.

Thiazide diuretics

Although there has been one literature report of increased blood pressure associated with the use of ginkgo during treatment with Thiazide diuretics, this interaction has not been verified by clinical trials. Nevertheless, you should consult with your health care provider before using ginkgo if you are taking Thiazide diuretics.