Ginkgo and blood pressure

Originally Published: April 18, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: January 4, 2013
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I am 65-year-old white female who stopped smoking and drinking around 20 years ago. My blood pressure has been normal until very recently. It is now over 100. I've recently begun taking 30 mg of ginkgo a couple times a day for memory enhancement (it really works). Could there be a connection?

—Ginkgo User

Dear Ginkgo User,

In fact, there’s currently no research to suggest any connection between taking ginkgo and increased blood pressure. You said that the change in your blood pressure is recent? If so, it’s recommended you speak to your primary care provider — quick changes in health markers such as blood pressure could indicate an underlying problem. It is possible that other factors may have contributed to this situation. Columbia students on the Morningside campus can make an appointment with Medical Services using Open Communicator. Columbia students at the Medical Center can make an appointment at Student Health.

In terms of the research on ginkgo and blood pressure, most has been related to whether or not ginkgo is effective at lowering blood pressure. This, too, has proved inconclusive. You mention that ginkgo is working as a memory enhancement tool for you. That’s great! Just make sure that your primary care provider, in addition to any other health care professional you see, knows all of the medications (this includes supplements) you take.

More research needs to be done on memory enhancement and ginkgo. There has been some research that indicates improvements in blood flow to the brain, thus enhancing memory in people who suffered impairment; but, there is no proof that ginkgo will improve memory in people who have not had an impairment. Unless you have had a decrease in memory due to an impairment of blood flow, ginkgo has not been proven to increase memory. Since ginkgo can be expensive (around $30 for a bottle of 60 capsules) it may not be the best (or least expensive) option for some people.

Take care,

Alice