Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as ADHD, is a behavioral disorder characterized by concentration difficulties and hyperactivity. People with attention-deficit disorder, or ADD, also have problems concentrating, but don't suffer from hyperactivity. Both conditions commonly occur in childhood, but they also can occur in adults. ADHD and ADD are usually treated with behavioral therapy and medicines that boost the production of certain brain chemicals. The herb ginkgo may improve mental sharpness, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, but evidence to prove it is an effective treatment for ADHD and ADD is lacking. Talk with your doctor before using this herb.
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Properties and Potential Benefits
Ginkgo biloba is one of the world's oldest species of tree. Its leaves are used to make herbal remedies for a number of conditions, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, stress and hearing loss. The UMMC website adds that it is sometimes included in botanical treatments for ADHD. It contains a host of biologically active compounds, including flavonoids, phenols and alkaloids. However, two constituents known as bilobalide and ginkgolides likely confer this herb's therapeutic effects, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Studies examining the role of ginkgo biloba in the treatment of ADHD and ADD are limited. The results of a small clinical study published in the January 2010 issue of "Phytotherapy Research" show that ginkgo improves inattention and immaturity factors in patients with attention-deficit disorder. However, the study only included six patients. The results of the study published in the May 2001 issue of the "Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience" show that ginkgo biloba improves symptoms of ADHD in children aged 3 to 17 years. However, ginkgo biloba was combined with American ginseng, so it is difficult to say whether ginkgo has the same effect when used alone.
Ginkgo biloba may be taken as tea, herbal tincture, capsules or tablets. Guidance regarding the amount needed to alleviate symptoms of ADHD and ADD are lacking, but RxList states that taking 120 mg to 600 mg daily may help to improve cognitive function in healthy young people. Bear in mind that this is only a guideline. The required dose may depend on other factors, such as age and overall health. Get further advice from your pharmacist or doctor.
RxList states that appropriate ginkgo use is likely safe for most people, but it adds that it may cause side effects that include dizziness, headache, constipation and stomach upset. Do not use this herb if you have a bleeding disorder as it may have anticoagulant effects and increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Its use also is contraindicated in seizure disorders. It may interact with, or heighten the effects of, other drugs you may be taking, including anticoagulants and the antidepressant fluoxetine.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Ginkgo
- "Phytotherapy Research;" Ginkgo Biloba Treating Patients with Attention-Deficit Disorder; H. Niederhofer; January 2010
- "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
- RxList: Ginkgo