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Is a High Dosage of Ginkgo Biloba Safe?

by
author image Sylvie Tremblay, MSc
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.
Is a High Dosage of Ginkgo Biloba Safe?
Taking too much ginkgo biloba can cause side effects. Photo Credit Gingko image by Angelika Bentin from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

Ginkgo biloba is one of the most common herbal supplements in the United States. Available in capsules, powders, tinctures, extracts, or even teas, there are a number of ways to consume the herb. Though the use of ginkgo biloba is thought that relieve a number of health problems, taking large doses the herb may prove unsafe and lead to the development of side effects.

Proposed Benefits of Ginkgo

Cosuming ginkgo biloba supplements is thought to have a number of beneficial effects in your body. The University of Maryland Medical Center indicates that compounds within ginkgo may help to improve blood flow in patients suffering from intermittent claudication, help protect your retinas from age-related macular degeneration and help treat glaucoma. In addition, ginkgo biloba might help increase your cognitive skills and memory, though further research is required to confirm its role in cognitive functioning.

Complications

Despite its potential benefits, taking ginkgo biloba supplements -- particularly large doses of the supplement -- can cause complications in some individuals. Pregnant women should not consume ginkgo supplements leading up to parturition, since the supplement may increase bleeding during childbirth, explains MedlinePlus. Women who are breastfeeding should also refrain from taking the supplement, as the compounds in ginkgo may prove insafe for an infant. If you suffer from bleeding disorders, seizures or diabetes, you should not consume ginkgo biloba.

Drug Interactions

Taking a large dose of ginkgo biloba may also cause dangerous side effects if you take prescription medication. Compounds within ginkgo can decrease the efficacy of seizure medications, and increase the efficacy of blood thinning medications, antidepressants and high blood pressure medications, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It may also interact with diabetes or diuretic medications. As a result, combining ginkgo biloba with pharmaceuticals can lead to severe side effects, especially if you take a large dose of the herb. Never take ginkgo without first talking to your doctor, and disclose any supplement use before you start taking prescription medication.

Recommended Intakes

Even if you do not suffer from conditions affected by ginkgo, and do not take drugs that interact with ginkgo biloba, you should not consume large doses of the herb without permission from your doctor. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends a dosage of 120 mg to 240 mg of ginkgo to treat intermittent claudication, and dosages of 120 mg to help increase memory function in healthy individuals. However, you should always consult a doctor to determine an appropriate dosage of the herb to suit your needs to help prevent side effects of over-consuming ginkgo.

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