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Allergic Reactions to Ginkgo Biloba

author image Shelley Moore
Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.
Allergic Reactions to Ginkgo Biloba
The branch of a gingko tree. Photo Credit: YASUSHI AKIMOTO/amana images/Getty Images

Research indicates Ginkgo biloba may be effective for improving symptoms of many health disorders, according to MedlinePlus. Some of these include Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, leg pain when walking due to poor blood flow, dizziness connected with balance disorders, glaucoma and premenstrual syndrome. Ginkgo is associated with some side effects, however, including allergic reactions. Consult a qualified health care provider before consuming ginkgo.

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Ginkgo Side Effects

Ginkgo leaf extract is probably safe for most people, and side effects are generally minor, notes MedlinePlus. However, you could experience an upset stomach, gas, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, headache, dizziness or a forceful heartbeat. Signs of an allergic reaction to ginkgo may include rash, hives, itching, facial or mouth swelling, tightness in your chest or trouble breathing. Any of these symptoms while taking ginkgo call for immediate medical attention.

Crude Ginkgo Versus Commercial Products

The crude ginkgo plant, fruit, pulp or nuts, also called seeds, are more likely to cause serious side effects than commercial extracts. They have been connected with allergic contact dermatitis, or skin irritation and itching that develops after touching the items. In addition, eating these substances can cause severe allergic skin reactions and mucous membrane irritation, according to MedlinePlus.

Ginkgolic Acid

A major culprit in allergic reactions to Ginkgo biloba is the component ginkgolic acid. This component not only causes severe allergic reactions, but may increase the risk of cancer when consumed in large amounts, according to eMedTV. Ginkgo supplements should contain less than 5 ppm ginkgolic acid. To ensure your ginkgo supplements are safe, buy only pharmaceutical-grade products from reputable manufacturers. In addition, avoid consuming ginkgo fruit or seeds, or fresh or dried ginkgo leaves.

Risk Factors

You may be more susceptible to an allergic reaction to ginkgo if you are allergic to urushiols, according to Urushiols are oils that cause allergic reactions in many people. They occur in cashew shells, mango rind, poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

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