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Gingko & Caffeine

by
author image Chad Stone
Chad Stone is a medical scientist based in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2003, Dr. Stone has has published high-profile articles on the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular disease and cancer in journals such as Blood and the Journal of the American Heart Association. Dr. Stone is a specialist in blood biology as well as cancers of breast, colon, kidney and other tissues.
Gingko & Caffeine
The leaves of a gingko biloba tree growing on a branch. Photo Credit MollyNZ/iStock/Getty Images

Ginkgo is an herbal supplement that may have benefits for learning, memory and general cognitive function. Caffeine is a stimulant most commonly found in coffee and tea and used to enhance mental alertness and wakefulness. Despite the popularity of ginkgo and caffeine in energy drinks and supplements, little is known about how ginkgo and caffeine interact. Talk to your doctor to learn more about how caffeine and ginkgo may affect your specific health condition.

Ginkgo

Extracts of the ginkgo herb are most commonly used for treating conditions associated with memory and cognition. According to MedlinePlus, ginkgo can increase blood flow to the brain and can be effective for the treatment of Alzheimer’s associated memory problems in the elderly. Ginkgo may also increase blood flow to other parts of the body and can be used to treat some circulation problems. While ginkgo has been shown to be effective at helping the elderly with memory loss, ginkgo can also have positive effects on learning and memory for young and middle-aged people.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a substance found in chocolate, coffee and tea that stimulates mental function. While caffeine can promote alertness and wakefulness, the effects of caffeine on learning and memory are less well known. Studies in lab mice suggest that caffeine can improve memory function in individuals with Alzheimer’s, according to a report in “Science Daily.” Some research described by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that caffeine use may actually worsen memory formation, however.

Combination

Not much is known about how caffeine and ginkgo may work together to enhance thinking and memory. Drugs.com explains that the combination of caffeine and ginkgo is not likely to have any negative effects in healthy people. Ginkgo may reverse some of the anxiety-enhancing side effects of caffeine, according to mouse studies detailed in the “Journal of Natural Products.” Ginkgo and caffeine in combination with ginseng and sugar was also found to promote mental attentiveness and memory in human subjects in a study published in the journal “Psychopharmacology.”

Recommendations

When used moderately in combination, caffeine and ginkgo are not likely to have any adverse affects in healthy people. In some circumstances, ginkgo and caffeine may help to promote wakefulness and enhance memory, but more research is needed to determine exactly how helpful these substances may be for memory formation. If you have a memory condition, talk to your doctor to learn more about the benefits of ginkgo and caffeine.

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