Chinese herbal medicine practitioners have used leaves from ginkgo biloba trees for centuries, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center website. Recently, researchers have begun to study the potential health benefits of extracts taken from ginkgo biloba levels. It's beneficial to know what effect ginkgo biloba extract can have on dopamine levels, as low levels of dopamine play a role in disorders such as ADHD and Parkinson's disease.
Your brain uses chemical messengers such as dopamine to communicate between brain areas to regulate your physical and mental functions. According to psychologist Joseph Carver, in an article for enotalone.com, dopamine plays a particularly important role in motor movements and mental processes such as attention and motivation. Low levels of dopamine play a role in disorders such as ADHD and Parkinson’s.
Ginkgo biloba extract may increase dopamine activity by allowing dopamine to remain in your brain longer. In a 1999 article in the journal “Life Sciences,” researchers W.R. Wu and X.Z. Zhu state that ginkgo biloba extract acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, which reduces the levels monoamine oxidase in your brain. Monoamine oxidase breaks down dopamine. Therefore, ginkgo biloba can allow your levels of dopamine to build up by decreasing levels of monoamine oxidase.
No studies clearly show that the dopamine-increasing effect of ginkgo biloba improves mental abilities in healthy adults. Some studies report small improvements in mental abilities among people taking ginkgo biloba extract, according to P.H. Canter and E. Ernst in a July 2007 article in the journal “Human Psychopharmacology.” However, Canter and Ernst warn that the present studies on the effect of ginkgo biloba on healthy adults contain inconsistent and conflicting findings. They conclude that no evidence suggests a strong connection between ginkgo biloba extract and mental abilities in already healthy adults.
The dopamine-boosting effects of ginkgo biloba may help to treat Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease results from lower than normal amounts of dopamine-releasing brain cells in a brain region called the substania nigra. In a study published in April 2005 in the “Journal of Neurochemistry,” M. Ahmad and colleagues gave rats with simulated Parkinson’s daily doses of ginkgo biloba extract. Ahmad and colleagues say that the rats who received ginkgo biloba retained more dopamine-releasing cells after three weeks of treatment.
Ginkgo biloba extract may help to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. In a study published in May 2001 in the “Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience,” M.R. Lyon and colleagues tested the effects of a supplement containing 200 mg of ginseng and 50 mg of ginkgo biloba extracts on children with ADHD. Taking the supplement with ginkgo biloba twice a day for four weeks improved ADHD symptoms in as many as three quarters of patients, according to Lyon and colleagues.
- “Life Sciences”; Involvement of Monoamine Oxidase Inhibition in Neuroprotective and Neurorestorative Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Extract Against MPTP-Induced Nigrostriatal Dopaminergic Toxicity in C57 Mice; W.R. Wu & X.Z. Zhu; 1999
- “Human Psychopharmacology”; Ginkgo Biloba is not a Smart Drug: an Updated Systematic Review of Randomised Clinical Trials Testing the Nootropic Effects of G. Biloba Extracts in Healthy People; P.H. Canter & E. Ernst; July 2007
- “Journal of Neurochemistry”; Ginkgo Biloba Affords Dose-Dependent Protection Against 6-Hydroxydopamine-Induced Parkinsonism in Rats: Neurobehavioural, Neurochemical and Immunohistochemical Evidences; M. Ahmed, et al.; April 2005
- “Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience”; Effect of the Herbal Extract Combination Panax Quinquefolium and Ginkgo Biloba on Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: a Pilot Study; M.R. Lyon, et al.; May 2001