Safety and side effects

When used orally in moderate amounts, ginkgo appears to be safe for most healthy adults.

Ginkgo can cause:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Upset stomach
  • Constipation
  • Allergic skin reactions

Don't eat raw or roasted ginkgo seeds, which can be poisonous.

If you are epileptic or prone to seizures, avoid ginkgo. Large amounts of ginkgotoxin can cause seizures. Ginkgotoxin is found in ginkgo seeds and, to a lesser extent, ginkgo leaves.

If you are older, have a bleeding disorder or are pregnant, don't take ginkgo. The supplement might increase your risk of bleeding. If you're planning to have surgery, stop taking ginkgo two weeks beforehand.

Ginkgo might interfere with the management of diabetes. If you take ginkgo and have diabetes, closely monitor your blood sugar levels.

Some research has shown that rodents given ginkgo had an increased risk of developing liver and thyroid cancers.

Interactions

Possible interactions include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax). Taking ginkgo with this drug used to relieve symptoms of anxiety might reduce the drug's effectiveness.
  • Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs, herbs and supplements. These types of drugs, herbs and supplements reduce blood clotting. Taking ginkgo with them might increase your risk of bleeding.
  • Anticonvulsants and seizure threshold lowering drugs, herbs and supplements. Large amounts of ginkgotoxin can cause seizures. Ginkgotoxin is found in ginkgo seeds and, to a lesser extent, ginkgo leaves. It's possible that taking ginkgo could reduce the effectiveness of an anticonvulsant drug.
  • Antidepressants. Taking ginkgo with certain antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem) and imipramine (Tofranil), might decrease their effectiveness.
  • Certain statins. Taking ginkgo with simvastatin (Zocor) might reduce the drug's effects. Ginkgo also appears to reduce the effects of atorvastatin (Lipitor).
  • Diabetes drugs. Ginkgo might alter your response to these drugs.
  • Ibuprofen. It's possible that combining ginkgo with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) might increase your risk of bleeding.
Oct. 12, 2017