Ginkgo Biloba vs. Ginseng: Benefits, Comparison of Extracts, Differences, and Side-Effects

The herbs Ginkgo biloba, also called the maidenhair tree, and Panax ginseng are typically combined to create Gincosan. Both Ginkgo biloba and Panax ginseng have been proven to yield several health benefits. In his meta-analysis of the health effects of Ginkgo biloba, Gail Mahady concluded that the Ginkgo exhibited promising therapeutic benefits. These benefits, Mahady said, include cardiovascular disease (ischemic cardiac syndrome, in particular), Alzheimer’s disease, and in intermittent claudication, or pain in the calf, thighs or buttocks due to low blood circulation as a result of exercise. In a separate meta-analysis of Panax ginseng and its effects on frailty-related disorders, Keiko Ogawa-Ochiai et al concluded there was evidence for the “usefulness” of the herb. The meta-analysis noted benefits related to chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, cardiovascular disorders, glucose metabolism-related diseases, and cognitive disorders. 

Many scientific studies have focused on the beneficial effects on the cognition of Gincosan. A study by Andrew Scholey et al, gave a 320-mg combination of the two herbs to healthy adults with a mean age of 21. Subjects given the mixture yielded faster and more accurate responses on a Serial Sevens test, a serial subtraction task that requires counting backward by sevens. The “highly significant and sustained increase” in the number of responses, the researchers found, was observed at all testing times. Subjects were observed after one hour, 2.5 hours, four hours, and six hours following the treatment. The enhanced accuracy was also observed following treatment of a 640-mg and 960-mg dose. In these tests, researchers used both a Serial Sevens and Serial Threes test, which requires counting backward by threes.

Another study, by Wesnes et al., found that participants who consumed a combination of the two herbs in a capsule–60 mg of standardized Ginkgo biloba extract and 100 mg of standardized Panax ginseng extract—twice daily throughout a 12-week treatment period improved their Index of Memory Quality scores. This improvement was observed across different aspects of memory (long-term memory and working memory) throughout the treatment period and after two weeks of washout. The researchers said the average improvement was pegged at 7.5%.

Additionally, Jonathon Lee Reay et al. performed a meta-analysis of the psychological and physiological effects of combining the two herbs on humans, a study by H Kwiecinski at al. Reay noted that participants who exhibited at least one cerebrovascular disorder symptom and who had consumed a 160-mg dose of Gincosan two times a day showed enhanced concentration after eight weeks of treatment.

With the consumption of the two herbs combined into a single supplement form, one may expect more potent health benefits in these aspects. Although the beneficial effects of Gincosan on human physiology and cognition have been proven, Lee Reay et al also noted that further research is needed to determine whether synergy exists in patients after repeated dosing.

Studies on the side effects of Gincosan abuse are limited to none, although manufacturers have generally reported that Gincosan has a good tolerability profile. Dr. Beng Yeong Ng said in some cases, the only side effects are a rapid heartbeat and sleeplessness. Consumption at night of Gincosan, therefore, is not advisable. 

Lack of reported side effects for Gincosan does not mean that caution is no longer required when consuming the combination. Scientific studies have more closely examined the side effects of Panax ginseng and Ginkgo biloba when consumed separately. The reported side effects for Panax ginseng included nausea, diarrhea, euphoria, mastalgia, vaginal bleeding, and blood pressure abnormalities. The herb may also interfere with the effectiveness of warfarin, an anticoagulant prescription drug. Other side effects include nervousness and difficulty sleeping. For Ginkgo biloba, some reported side effects include headache, constipation, stomach upset, skin allergy, and rapid heartbeat. Like Panax ginseng, Ginkgo biloba was reported to interact with anticoagulants and increase the risk of bleeding.

These side effects could result in users who consume a combination of the two herbs. Consultation with a doctor prior to consumption of any supplement is always advised. 

Gincosan supplements typically contain a standardized dose of the two herbs in a 3:5 ratio–60 mg of EGB-761, a Gingko biloba extract with a standard 6% terpene lactones and 24% flavone glycosides, and 100 mg of the Panax ginseng extract G115 or Ginsana, with a standard 4 mg of ginsenosides. The supplements generally come in capsule form. Manufacturers advise a daily consumption of one to two capsules for at least four weeks, with maximum benefits expected after three months of daily use.

Of 51 users who participated in a survey on the effectiveness of Gincosan capsules, 23 said they used them for the improvement of brain function and memory. Eight reported using it for the brain and the activation of blood vessels, five for fatigue, four for stress, and two each for aging, inflammation, diabetes, mental disorder, and blood pressure drop. One reported using it for cancer. The survey was conducted online by Tabletwise, an online learning platform. Some users, however, reported mental exhaustion, but said they “feel better” after consumption “within a day or two.”

Users therefore generally give good reviews of the supplements, with the comments revolving around the positive effects of the products on cognition. Users particularly note the supplements’ benefits on memory and concentration. 

It is difficult to pinpoint the specific compounds that give Gincosan its health benefits. A meta-analysis of studies on the effects of Gincosan in humans, by Jonathon Lee Reay et al., notes that most research on the beneficial components of Panax ginseng and Ginkgo biloba only study the herbs separately. 

Few studies that examine Gincosan as a whole do, however, exist. One study by V.D. Petkov et al, using animal models, noted that the neuroprotective properties reported by users may have to do with Gincosan’s ability to increase adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion. An in vitro study by Joyce A. Benjamins et al found that ACTH protects against brain damage in rats caused by inflammation and excitotoxicity or neuronal death instigated by reactive oxygen species, staurosporine, among others. 

The most apparent difference between Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng lies in their appearance. Although both are native to Asia–Ginkgo biloba is native to China and Ginseng, Panax ginseng, in particular, to Korea and China—and both are used for therapeutic purposes, it is fairly easy to differentiate one from the other on the basis of their size, and the shape and color of their leaves. Ginkgo biloba, for instance, is a tree, while Panax ginseng is a plant. Ginkgo biloba leaves are fan-shaped, while Panax ginseng leaves are more oval and have double-toothed borders. Ginkgo biloba leaves have a light green color and can turn yellow-green at high temperatures. Panax ginseng leaves, on the other hand, have an inherently dark green color. The leaves of both, however, turn yellow in autumn.


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There are also obvious differences in the specific parts of each herbaceous form that yield health benefits to humans and the ways in which these parts are harvested to create the forms humans consume to avail of these benefits. In Panax ginseng, the root is of particular importance for supplement manufacturers as it contains the most ginsenosides, the active pharmacological components of ginseng that have been proven as responsible for Ginseng’s health benefits. 

According to Ok Ju Kang et al, the main root, in particular, has a high concentration of ginsenosides Rb1 and Rc, while the root hair has a high amount of ginsenosides Rc, Rb1, Re, Rh2, Rf, Rb2, Rg1, Rb3, and Rg2. It also contains Rh1, although, according to Ok Ju Kang et al, the leaf has more of this type of ginsenoside. 

Each of these ginsenosides has been proven to yield specific health benefits to humans. Xi Lyu et al, for instance, concluded that ginsenoside Rh1 may be used to treat colorectal cancer after they found it “markedly decreased” both the volume and weight of a tumor in SW620 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Meanwhile, Rg2, according to Hai Dan Yuan et al, may prove effective in the treatment of type 2 diabetes because of its proven ability to improve insulin resistance. Sunoh Kim et al, on the other hand, concluded that Rg3 may possess neuroprotective properties. They came to this conclusion after they found, using a hippocampal neuronal model, that the ginsenoside inhibited an increase in Calcium levels associated with epilepsy and seizures.

To produce the supplements that humans consume for these health benefits, manufacturers can either dry and peel the raw ginseng root to produce white ginseng or steam the root before drying and peeling it to create red ginseng. These post-harvest forms are then further processed to produce capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts for use. The top five Ginseng supplement producers are Health Concerns, Vital Nutrients, Dr. Mercola, Gaia Herbs, and Herb Farm.

In Ginkgo biloba, meanwhile, it is primarily the leaves that are of paramount importance for those looking to maximize the plant’s benefits. According to Teris A. Van Beek, who conducted a chemical analysis of the leaves, the important components of this part of the Ginkgo biloba plant, in particular, are the terpene trilactones such as ginkgolides and bilobalide, biflavones, flavonol glycosides, alkylphenols, proanthocyanidins, 6-hydroxykynurenic acid, phenolic acids,  polyprenols, and 4-O-methylpyridoxine. These components have been proven to yield specific health benefits to humans when consumed. For instance, in their meta-analysis of studies on the effects of ginkgolides in neurological diseases, Chunrong Li et al concluded the component’s ability to prevent oxidation and apoptosis, and its capacity to provide the necessary nutrition to nerves, among others, make it an ideal agent for the treatment of Guillain Barre syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis,  and other novel neurologic diseases. A study by Michelle Goldie et al also concluded, using animal models of acute inflammatory pain, that bilobalide had potent anti-inflammatory and antihyperalgesic effects. In their meta-analysis of studies on the role of phenolics in the treatment of cancer, Preethi Anantharaju et al, meanwhile, reiterated the capacity of these compounds to inhibit tumor cell growth. However, the researchers also noted that further studies were required to determine the exact mechanism involved in this process.

Ginkgo biloba can be harvested in many ways. A study by HL Guan et al, for example, looked into the effects of drying Ginkgo biloba leaves under the sun, in the shade, and by baking at four different temperatures: at 95, 113, 140, and 176 degrees Fahrenheit. The researchers concluded that baking the leaves at 176 degrees Fahrenheit allowed for the better retention of critical components such as flavonoids and terpene lactones. Following post-harvesting, the herb is further processed into liquid extract, capsules, or tablets. The top five Ginkgo biloba supplement manufacturers are Douglas Labs, NOW, Ecological Formulas, Progressive Labs, and Gaia Herbs.

What is the relation Between Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH) and Ginkgo biloba?

The adrenocorticotropic hormone is a tropic hormone that is released by the anterior pituitary gland. It is important because it stimulates the adrenal gland for the release of glucocorticoids such as cortisol, which are critical to the proper functioning of the body. According to Lauren Thau et al, glucocorticoids play an important role in the immune, nervous, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, integumentary, respiratory, and reproductive systems. They induce the death of pro-inflammatory T cells, enhance lipolysis, which enables the release of free fatty acids that other cells can use for the production of glucose, the body’s source of energy, and enhance the function of glucagon, which regulates blood sugar levels.

Several researchers have observed that Ginkgo biloba may play a role in stimulating ACTH for glucocorticoids release. D Jezova et al concluded, for instance, that the Ginkgo biloba standardized extract EGB761, in particular, may have instigated the release of cortisol during stress and prevented an increase in blood pressure levels in young subjects that ingested a 120-mg dose of the herb once and were then subjected to a memory test and static exercise. A study by Hakima Amri et al said that based on their in vivo treatment of rats, Ginkgo biloba does this through its ginkgolide A and B components, which reduce glucocorticoid levels in the body. When the body senses glucocorticoid levels are low, several hypothalamus cells release the corticotropin-releasing hormone that stimulates the pituitary gland for the release of ACTH. Once ACTH is released, it travels through the bloodstream to get to the adrenal glands, where it binds to receptors that cause those adrenal glands to increase cortisol.

ACTH on its own has been found to play a critical role in health as well, particularly the brain.

An in vitro study by Joyce A. Benjamins et al found that ACTH protects against rat brain damage caused by inflammation and excitotoxicity or neuronal death instigated by reactive oxygen species, staurosporine, among others. The researchers said it does this possibly by activating melanocortin receptors that prevent cell death.

Studies have found that Ginseng also stimulates ACTH secretion. A study by S Hiai et al noted an increase in plasma ACTH and plasma corticosterone in rats given a preparation of saponin and ginsenosides isolated from the Panax ginseng root 30, 60, and 90 minutes after the treatment. The researchers concluded that the saponin in ginseng, in particular, acted on the hypothalamus to stimulate the ACTH secretion that led to the increase in corticosterone levels. The study did not say, however, how exactly the ginseng saponin content acted on the hypothalamus to yield these results.

The ginsenosides in Panax ginseng have also been found to interfere in activity involving ACTH that can lead to poor health. A study by H. Ohminami et al, for instance, found that the ginsenosides Rb2, Rg, Rg2, Rg1, Rc, and Rh1 in the herb “significantly reduced” lipogenesis induced by insulin in slices of adipose tissue. According to Ayumi Sato et al, enhanced lipogenesis may lead to obesity. Another study by Shawn D. Flanagan et al found that muscle damage was prevented in participants who underwent intense exercises for 24 hours and who had been administered a high dose (960 mg) of Ginst15, a fermented Korean ginseng supplement, for 14 days. The researchers concluded this may be because of the increased antioxidant activity of ginsenosides in ginseng, which reduced the hypo-pituitary-adrenal responses of the body, including the secretion of ACTH. Too much cortisol due to ACTH secretion can lead to muscle damage.

What are the Differences Between Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng?

Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng, Korean Ginseng, in particular, are different in many ways. Below are their major differences:

  • Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng differ in appearance: While Ginkgo biloba is a tree, Panax ginseng is a plant. Ginkgo biloba leaves are fan-shaped. On the other hand, Panax ginseng leaves are more oval and have double-toothed borders. Ginkgo biloba leaves have a light green color and can turn yellow-green at high temperatures. Meanwhile, Panax ginseng leaves have a dark green color. The leaves of both herbs, however, turn yellow in autumn.
  • Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng differ in their specific parts that yield the most health benefits to humans: Manufacturers primarily harvest Ginkgo biloba leaves to create supplements for human use. On the other hand, they harvest the root of Ginseng for its health benefits.
  • Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng differ in their post-harvest forms: To produce the supplements that humans consume for health benefits, manufacturers can either dry and peel raw ginseng root to produce white ginseng or steam the root before drying and peeling it to create red ginseng. Ginkgo biloba leaves are typically just dried to produce supplements, but they can be dried in different ways. A study by HL Guan et al, for example, looked into the effects of drying Ginkgo biloba leaves under the sun, in the shade, and by baking at four different temperatures: at 95, 113, 140, and 176 degrees Fahrenheit. The researchers concluded that baking the leaves at 176 degrees Fahrenheit allowed for the better retention of critical components.
  • Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng differ in their components that yield health benefits to humans: According to Teris A. Van Beek, who conducted a chemical analysis of Ginkgo biloba leaves, the important components of this part of the Ginkgo biloba plant, in particular, terpene trilactones such as ginkgolides and bilobalide, biflavones, flavonol glycosides, alkylphenols, proanthocyanidins, 6-hydroxykynurenic acid, phenolic acids,  polyprenols, and 4-O-methylpyridoxine. According to Ok Ju Kang et al, the Panax ginseng main root, in particular, has a high concentration of ginsenosides Rb1 and Rc, while the root hair has a high amount of ginsenosides Rc, Rb1, Re, Rh2, Rf, Rb2, Rg1, Rb3, and Rg2. It also contains Rh1, although, according to Ok Ju Kang et al, the leaf has more of this type of ginsenoside. 
  • Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng differ in the health benefits they yield to humans: Because of their differences in critical components, Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng also yield differing health benefits to humans when consumed, although some benefits overlap. Ginkgo biloba, for instance, has been found useful in the treatment of Guillain Barre syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis,  and other novel neurologic diseases. bilobalide has been found to have potent anti-inflammatory and antihyperalgesic effects and the capacity to inhibit tumor growth. Studies, meanwhile, have shown Panax ginseng may help in the treatment of colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, and neurological diseases, among others.

Further studies are needed to clarify the specific mechanisms by which Panax ginseng and Ginkgo biloba yield these specific benefits to humans who consume the same.

What is the Difference Between Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng in Terms of Energy Benefits?

Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng don’t yield the same effect on energy production when consumed.

Ginseng may give more energy than Ginkgo biloba. Although there are limited to no studies that compare how each herb fares in energy production, the fact that there are more studies that prove Panax ginseng’s role in the same may mean that this particular herb fares better in that regard. 

For instance, a study by Hyeong Gyeug Kim et al found that Korean ginseng, in general, reduces fatigue in patients with idiopathic chronic fatigue. The researchers came to this conclusion after lower reactive oxygen species and malondialdehyde levels were reduced in patients administered 1 g or 2 g per day of Korean ginseng extract for four weeks. According to Michael Reid, who conducted a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed scientific studies on reactive oxygen species (ROS), ROS has been found to be a direct cause of fatigue. Malondialdehyde (MDA), meanwhile, like ROS, is an oxidative stress marker. A study by Jin Seok Lee et al found that oxidative stress contributes to idiopathic chronic fatigue. Another study by Li Zhang et al concluded that Korean red ginseng has a “potent anti-fatigue effect” in the group of 174 Chinese study participants given 1.8 g and 3.6 g of the herb for four weeks. The researchers came to this conclusion following an improvement in the subjects’ traditional Chinese medicine symptom scores and their scores based on their own fatigue assessments. The researchers said that the effects are also dose and time-dependent. Another study by Won Suk Sung et al concluded that while Korean red ginseng doesn’t show “absolute anti-fatigue effect,” it had “therapeutic potential for middle-aged people with moderate fatigue.” This was after the researchers found fatigue visual analog scale results went down for the two groups that participated in their study–one given 3 g of Korean red ginseng and the other a placebo—after following up four weeks after their six-week treatment. The researchers noted no significant difference in the decrease in the results between the two groups. The decrease in fatigue in those aged over 50 and who had a fatigue VAS less than 80mm at the start of the study, however, was found to be more significant.


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For Ginkgo biloba, only one study has so far been found to directly link human consumption of the same to energy. The study by Ewa Sadowska Krepa et al found that physically active young men who had consumed a standardized extract of the herb for six weeks at 160 mg/day improved their endurance performance. However, the researchers noted that this improvement was “marginal.”

Researchers X J Ren et al also looked at the effects of Ginkgo biloba leaves and extract on the use of nutrients and energy, but they made use of an animal model instead (chicken broilers). The study also merely concluded that the added Ginkgo biloba in the chickens’ corn- and soybean-based diets improved the animals’ use of nutrients in a dose-dependent manner, with the optimum results obtained with a supplementation dosage of 0.8 g/kg of diet. It did not explicitly make any conclusion as to energy production.

Supplement manufacturers appear to recognize that Ginkgo biloba has minimal to no effect on energy production in humans. Although some manufacturers use the phrases “extra strength,” “more energy,” among others, in their labels, they merely do so in passing and no longer expound on the energy concept in their product overview. In general, consultation with a doctor is advised prior to consumption of any supplement.

What is the Difference Between Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng in Terms of Libido?

Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng do not have the same effects on libido when consumed, according to scientific studies. In fact, Ginseng may be better at enhancing libido than Ginkgo biloba. Scientific studies on the effects of Ginseng on sexual desire and human sexual function, in general, conclude that the herb does positively affect the same. 

Researchers Chul Kim et al found that male rats given ginseng ejaculated earlier and did so more frequently than those not given the herb. They were also found to deposit more copulatory semen during a 10-day observation period than the rats that did not consume ginseng. The study did not mention the exact dosage or form of ginseng the rats were given. 

Another study by H Yoshimura et al found that the copulatory disorder in male mice housed for five weeks improved after being administered red ginseng components. A study by Kyung Jin-Oh et al, meanwhile, found that menopausal women who took three Korean red ginseng capsules daily (with 1 g each capsule) scored higher in the Female Sexual Function Index and in the Global Assessment Questionnaire. The study did not specify how long the Korean red ginseng treatment lasted. The researchers concluded that based on the scores, Korean red ginseng may be used to improve the sex life of menopausal women. 

Although the Kyung Jin-Oh study did not specify the specific component of Korean red ginseng that enhances sexual arousal, the H Yoshimura study concluded that ginsenoside Rg1 and crude saponins may be responsible for the effect. The researchers made the conclusion after they observed the housed mice given ginsenosides Rb1, Ro and Rb2 did not engage frequently in copulatory behavior, but did so when administered ginsenoside Rg1 at 2.5,5, and 10mg/kg. They found the same results with mice administered crude red ginseng saponins at 25, 50, and 100mg/kg. 

Meanwhile, studies on Ginkgo biloba and its effect on libido and sexual function have produced different results. 

A study by A J Cohen et al found that Ginkgo biloba yielded positive effects on erection and lubrication, desire, orgasm, and afterglow of participants with sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants. The researchers found that the effects were more potent in female participants than in male participants, with relative success rates of 91% and 76%, respectively. The researchers did not specifically mention the dosage that yielded these results but noted that for the study, the dosages administered ranged from 60 mg daily to 120 mg twice a day, for an average of 207 mg per day for four weeks.

Some studies, however, have noted that Ginkgo biloba has none to limited effects on libido and sexual function. 

A study by Byung Jo-Kang et al noted that its results did not replicate the A J Cohen study and found instead “no statistical significant difference” in improvement in sexual dysfunction induced by antidepressants between a group of subjects administered Ginkgo biloba at weeks two, four, and eight following treatment for two months. 

A study by Cindy M. Meston et al appeared to replicate the results of the Byung Jo-Kang et al study, and found that there was no “substantial impact” on the sexual function of women who consumed Ginkgo biloba extract for the long-term (eight weeks of treatment at 300 mg per day) or for the short term (a single dose of 300 mg). They noted that long-term consumption of the extract needed to be combined with sex therapy for contentment and sexual desire in the female subjects to increase “significantly” as compared to the placebo group. 

Because of these differing results on the effects of Ginkgo biloba on libido, supplement manufacturers don’t typically use the libido-enhancing property as a selling point to consumers, something Ginseng manufacturers do.

What is the Difference Between Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng in the Immune System?

Scientific studies have shown that both Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng can enhance the immune system. 

A study by Shiqing Xia et al found that the Ginkgo biloba administered in patients with arsenic poisoning provided “favorable immunological effects” by inhibiting Th17 cells and cytokines that favor inflammation while enhancing anti-inflammation cytokines and regulatory T cells. Chronic inflammation is linked to diseases in the body. The study did not specify the Ginkgo biloba dosage administered to the patients but noted that the treatment lasted for three months.

The same immune-boosting property of Ginkgo biloba has been reported in animal models. A study by Yong Wang et al found that the mass of immune organs, in particular, the thymus and spleen, in rats given Ginkgo biloba at doses of 40, 120, 360 mg daily for 28 days and analyzed after sacrifice via anesthesia was increased. The researchers also found the animals’ thymus lymphocytes and mature spleen numbers had increased following treatment. Based on these results, the researchers concluded Ginkgo biloba plays a “regulatory role” in the immune system.

For Panax ginseng, a study by Sun Hyee Yun et al concluded that the red post-harvest form, in particular, enhances the immune system by increasing the number of T cells and B cells, which are lymphocytes that fight bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders, and other white blood cells that also help the body fight infection. The researchers came to this conclusion after the results were observed in healthy adults who had been given a 2-gram Panax red ginseng tablet for eight weeks.

In a study by Yu Han Jie et al, the antibodies of mice improved after they were administered 10, 50, and 250 mg of Panax ginseng extract for five to six days. The improvement was noted after the mice were subjected to a sheep cell challenge. The researchers said the more potent effects were seen in the mice that received the highest doses.

Because the immune-boosting properties of both herbs are well-documented, it is difficult to say which one has better-yielding effects in this respect. Interestingly, only the Panax ginseng supplement manufacturers have taken cognizance of the proven immune-boosting properties of the Ginseng herb and have used them as selling points in their sale of their products. Despite the existence of studies that prove Ginkgo biloba’s positive effects on the immune system, the herb’s immune-enhancing property is rarely or not at all mentioned in supplement labels.

What is the Difference Between Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng in Blood Circulation?

Blood sugar, or the glucose levels in the blood, is an important source of energy for the body. However, when blood sugar levels are too high for a long period (hyperglycemia), organs, blood vessels, and nerves may incur damage. High blood sugar levels can also enhance the production of free radicals that can lead to cell death. The result is lower production of nitric oxide, which is a key component in the body’s circulatory system. Nitric oxide allows for blood vessel relaxation that leads to good blood flow. 

In other words, high blood glucose levels lead to restricted blood flow. Scientific studies have found that Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng yield different effects on blood sugar levels in the body.

The findings for Ginkgo biloba, in particular, are mixed. In a study, G B Kudolo noted elevated blood glucose levels in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients who consumed  120 mg of the Ginkgo biloba extract EGB761 daily for three months. However, a study by Daye Cheng et al noted the anti-hyperglycemic effect of the herb in rats with induced diabetes that had consumed the same orally at 100, 200, and 300 mg/kg of body weight for 30 days. The researchers came to this conclusion after noting that after the treatment, medication for treatment of diabetes 2, blood glucose levels and lipid profile, among others,  decreased in the animals. On this basis, the researchers concluded that Ginkgo biloba may be used to treat diabetes.

Study findings on the effects of Ginseng on blood sugar levels are more consistent. They conclude that Ginseng helps reduce blood glucose levels. A study by Jonathon L. Reay, for instance, noted that subjects given a single dose of 200 mg and 400 mg of Panax ginseng exhibited “significant reductions” in glucose levels before, during, and after the completion of a series of tests that help determine cognitive performance post-treatment. The same anti-hyperglycemic effects have been reported in studies using animal models. A study by Anoja S. Attele et al noted the glucose-lowering effects of Panax ginseng berry extract and ginsenoside Re, which is a component in Panax ginseng root hair, in mice with Type 2 diabetes. The researchers noted that the anti-diabetic effects of Ginsenoside Re, in particular, were dose-dependent.

Given these studies, Ginseng is the better option for users seeking to improve blood circulation. Ginseng supplement manufacturers have taken cognizance of this fact and have released products that they claim help improve heart health and sexual performance as a result.

What is the Difference Between Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng in Terms of Migraine Headaches?

Scientific studies have found that Ginkgo biloba can be used to treat migraines. A study by Giovanni D Andrea, for instance, noted that the Ginkgolide B in Ginkgo biloba leaves reduced the frequency and duration of patients with migraine with aura who had consumed the 60-mg Ginkgo biloba formulation with Vitamin B2 twice daily for four months. Another study by Susanna Usai et al found that Ginkgo biloba, also its Ginkgolide B, in particular, reduced the frequency of migraine attacks of subjects aged 8 to 18 three months after their three-month treatment. During the treatment period, the subjects were administered a combination of Ginkgolide B at 80 mg, vitamin B2 at 1.6 mg, coenzyme Q10 at 20 mg, and magnesium at 300 mg two times each day.

On the other hand, there are limited to no studies on the effects of Ginseng on migraines. However, studies have documented that Ginseng is, instead, a cause of a milder form, headaches. In their meta-analysis of studies on the adverse effects of Panax ginseng, Jonna Tompson Coon et al concluded that patients who consumed single preparations of ginseng typically reported headaches as a side effect after consumption. Other commonly reported adverse events with consumption of ginseng were gastrointestinal and sleep disorders, the researchers found.

Based on these scientific findings, between Gingko biloba and Ginseng, Ginkgo biloba is the better alternative for treating migraines. Interestingly, though, some users of Ginkgo biloba supplements have also reported headaches as a side effect on Amazon. The reported side effect, however, did not seem to be commonplace.   

What is the Difference Between Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng in Terms of Eye-Sight?

Both Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng have been found to yield positive effects on eyesight. A study by Luciano Quaranta et al concluded there was “significant improvement” in visual field indices of patients with normal-tension glaucoma after they consumed 40 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract thrice a day for four weeks. After the treatment, the patients had undergone a washout period of eight weeks and had again been given placebo capsules for another four weeks. 

Another study by P Fies et al found that there was a “marked improvement” in the vision of patients with senile dry macular degeneration after they consumed Ginkgo biloba extract EGB761 at dosages of 240 mg/day and 60 mg/day for six weeks. The researchers noted that the number of people with improved vision was twice as large in the group treated with the 240 mg/day dosage as in the group treated with the 60 mg/day dosage. 

Many of the studies that found positive effects of Ginseng on eyesight used animal models. A study by Lianfeng Wang et al concluded that Ginsenoside Rg1, which can be found in Ginseng root hair, can decrease oxidative stress and reduce the damage on ganglion cells in the retina and intraocular pressure in a rabbit model. Another study by Hana Yang et al found that, using a rat model, Panax red ginseng could alleviate diabetic complications in the eye by reversing the expression of several genes found to be behind the progression of retinopathy.

There was one study that looked into the effects of Ginseng in live humans. A study by Hyoung Won Bae et al concluded that Korean red ginseng may serve as an additional treatment alternative to patients that develop dry eyes following use of eye drops to treat glaucoma. The researchers found that the patients who had consumed the herb at 3 g/day for eight weeks exhibited improvements in their Total Ocular Surface Index Score and in tear film stability. It is worth noting that the researchers did not find that Ginseng yielded positive effects on the eye disease itself (glaucoma).

Despite the existence of studies that conclude that both herbs can be used to improve eye health, Ginkgo biloba appears to be the better alternative for humans so far, judging by the nature of the studies that made these conclusions. This fact is made evident by the proliferation of Ginkgo biloba supplements that claim to improve eye health and the apparent lack of Ginseng supplements in the same category.


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What is the Difference Between Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng in Terms of Brain Function?

Both Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng have positive effects on brain function, according to scientific studies. A study by R.B. Silberstein et al affirmed that Ginkgo biloba extract was an efficacious treatment for working memory lapses in the elderly. The researchers came to this conclusion after they found an improvement in accuracy in the object working memory task performance of participants aged 50 to 61 treated with two tablets of Ginkgo biloba per day for 14 days. The researchers concluded the Ginkgo biloba effects were due to its observed capacity to enhance synaptic inhibition, which prevents hyperexcitability.

On the other hand, a study by Silvia Kyungjin Lho et al found that the intake of Korean ginseng–whether white or red—for more than five years may have positive effects on cognitive function in the elderly. It made the conclusion after finding the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease (CERAD) test scores of elderly Koreans with use for more than five years were higher than those who did not take it. However, the researchers stated that there was no noted difference in the changes in CERAD scores when a follow-up was made after just two and four years of ginseng use by the test subjects.

Since the positive effects of both Ginseng and Ginkgo biloba are well-documented in scientific research, it is difficult to say for certain which herb improves brain function better. Supplement manufacturers appear to recognize that each herb provides its own brain health benefits which are better combined for the user’s benefit. The result is the proliferation of Gincosan supplements on the market that claim to enhance cognitive performance.

What are the Side-Effect Differences Between Ginseng and Ginkgo biloba?

Side-effects following consumption of Ginseng and Ginkgo biloba separately have been reported.

R.K. Siegel, for instance, found that morning diarrhea, skin rash, nervousness, and difficulty sleeping were common side-effects caused by the consumption of Ginseng in a two-year study. The most serious side-effect reported in Siegel’s study was low blood pressure, although this was a rare occurrence.

In an article published in the American Family Physician, Dr. David Kiefer and Dr. Tracy Pantuso noted that Panax ginseng abuse could lead to nausea, insomnia, diarrhea, euphoria, mastalgia,  headaches, vaginal bleeding, and blood pressure abnormalities. They also cautioned against the concomitant use of the same with warfarin (Coumadin), as Panax ginseng, they said, could decrease the effectiveness of the anticoagulant. The doctors noted that hypertension may result with concomitant use of the herb and caffeine, while manic-like symptoms may develop in those who consume Panax ginseng and Nardil, which is used to treat depression, together.

In their meta-analysis of studies on the effects of Ginkgo biloba, Pal Didrik Hoff Roland et al concluded that while the Ginkgo biloba leaf extract is generally safe for consumption, side effects may include headache, constipation, stomach upset, skin allergy, and rapid heartbeat. Ginkgo biloba, they said, may also interact with anticoagulants and increase the risk of bleeding.

Other scientific studies have also documented some severe side effects with consumption of Ginkgo biloba. O P Macvie et al documented pre retinal and subretinal hemorrhage in a 78-year-old woman who had been consuming Ginkgo biloba for five months prior to the consultation. The woman was advised to stop consumption of the herb, after which the hemorrhage subsided. However, the researchers noted that the patient ended up having macular fibrosis.  According to the researchers, the woman had a history of eye conditions, exhibiting at one point floaters in both eyes, prior to the consultation.

In an article published in The American Physician, Dr. Victor Sierpina, Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger and Mark Blumenthal of the American Botanical Council noted other adverse effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, restlessness, dizziness, and weakness following consumption of Ginkgo biloba

Ginseng and Ginkgo biloba, in general, however, are considered relatively safe if consumed in small doses. 

What are the Processing Differences Between Ginseng and Ginkgo biloba?

Ginseng and Ginkgo biloba are processed in different ways. The differences in processing have to do in large part with the components of each herb that need to be harvested to create the supplement forms that yield health benefits to humans.

For Ginseng, it is the root that is of primary concern to supplement manufacturers. There are different ways of processing a Ginseng root. It may be dried and peeled to produce white ginseng or steamed before it is dried and peeled to produce red ginseng. By and large, the health benefits of the two processed forms overlap, with one typically more efficient and efficacious than the other. 

In their study on the preparation and chemical composition of Korean red ginseng, Sang Myung Lee et. al. described in detail how that form was produced. According to the researchers, the six-year-old fresh Korean ginseng was washed so any foreign agents are removed. It was then steamed at 90 to 98 degrees Celsius for one to three hours and then subjected to mechanical drying and sun-drying before being packaged for commercial use. 

There are limited studies that detail the step-by-step Korean white ginseng production process. A study by Taik-Koo Yun simply stated Korean white ginseng is 4- to 6-year-old Korean ginseng that is peeled and then dried. Researchers also have different views on how the herb should be dried. Ki-Yeul Nam says Korean white ginseng is produced by air-drying the Korean ginseng root while Chi-Yeon Lim et al argue it should be generated by the “sun-drying of fresh ginseng.” 

One study was a bit more detailed than most in describing how white ginseng is produced. For their study on the ginsenoside profile of the processed herb, Korean white ginseng, Ji Hye-Shin et al force-dried fresh ginseng at 55 degrees Celsius for one week until a moisture content of around 14% was achieved.

Despite the general scarcity of studies that provide specific details about white ginseng production, it can be concluded that the production process for red ginseng is more complex than the production process of its counterpart. 

There are limited to no scientific studies on how Ginkgo biloba leaves are processed. Only one study, by Jun Ni et al, described the process for harvesting Ginkgo biloba leaves for use in their study on the effects of NaCl on post-harvest Ginkgo biloba leaves. According to the researchers, they gathered short shoots from Ginkgo biloba trees that were around 15 years old. The leaves, they said, were collected 3 to 4 meters above the ground using a long reach chain saw. The samples were then taken to a growth room with constant light and a temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) and were examined for possible contamination after 24 hours.

Other online resources also do not provide much detail on how Ginkgo biloba leaves are processed. The Jammu and Kashmir Medicinal Plants Introduction Centre in India, a biotechnology company, merely notes that the best time to harvest Ginkgo leaves is in autumn when they start to turn yellow. The center said this was the time the leaves best retained their flavonoid, bilobalide, and ginkgolide content which is believed to yield health benefits.

Who are the Major Ginseng Supplement Producers?

There is no specific numerical data on Ginseng supplement production. However, some of the known Ginseng supplement producers are:

  • Health Concerns
  • Vital Nutrients
  • Dr. Mercola
  • Gaia Herbs
  • Herb Pharm
  • NOW
  • Wise Woman Herbals
  • Pure Encapsulations

At present, according to In-Ho Baeg et al, the ginseng root and all its processed forms have an estimated market value of $2.084 billion dollars, with distribution in at least 35 countries.

The top four producers of Panax ginseng are:

  • China: 44749 tons
  • South Korea: 27480 tons
  • Canada: 6484 tons
  • United States: 1054 tons

All four countries have a combined production of around 79,769 tons of fresh ginseng, accounting for more than 99 percent of the global total 80,080 tons.

The other minor players contribute a total of 311 tons, according to In-Ho Baeg et al.

Are Ginseng Supplements more Expensive than Ginkgo biloba Supplements?

Yes, they are. The price range for Ginkgo biloba supplements on the Premier Formulas website is $8.99 to $107. For Ginseng supplements, Panax ginseng supplements, in particular, it’s $13.99 to $100. The most expensive Ginkgo biloba supplement is a bottle that contains 8 fluid ounces of the herb tincture. The most expensive Panax ginseng supplement, meanwhile, is a bottle that contains 4 fluid ounces of the herb tincture. To get 8 fluid ounces of Panax ginseng, then, the same liquid volume of the most expensive Ginkgo biloba supplement, one would need to spend $200 at the $100 fixed cost of a 4-fluid ounce bottle.

What are the Price Factors for Ginseng and Ginkgo biloba?

There are several reasons Ginseng is more expensive than Ginkgo biloba. Here are some of them:

  • Ginseng processing is more complex than Ginkgo biloba processing: Ginseng, red ginseng, in particular, needs to undergo a complex process of steaming, and then drying and peeling before it is sold into its other forms on the market. The processing of Ginkgo biloba is straightforward. According to limited studies, it basically involves gathering the leaves and then observing them for possible contaminants.
  • Ginseng takes longer to grow for harvesting than Ginkgo biloba: Wild ginseng, in general, needs to stay in nature for as long as six years before it is harvested. On the other hand, one only needs to wait for the leaves of Ginkgo biloba to turn yellow in autumn–a wait of only months—so they can be harvested and then turned into their supplement forms. 

The reasons for the big difference in pricing between the two herbs have more to do with how the supplements are produced before they are transformed into their forms for consumption than with the number of health benefits they afford. Both Ginseng and Ginkgo biloba have been proven to yield many positive effects on human health, with one not considered better than the other from a general health perspective.


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