The Effects of Ginkgo Biloba on Libido
It happens to all of us, especially with age; losing your libido can impact you in a larger way than you might want to admit. It might affect your confidence, your relationship and, obviously, your ability to show physical affection. It’s something that’s both natural and that can be helped with a plant: ginkgo biloba.
In this article we’re going to go into the interesting details on how ginkgo biloba can aid your sexual health and motivation. There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to this plant, as it can help in more than one way. Even more usefully, it can be added to your lifestyle easily, as it can be taken as a daily supplement. The first obvious question to ask, however, is…
What is Ginkgo Biloba?
Sometimes known as the maidenhair tree or simply ginkgo, ginkgo biloba is a tree with small, fan-shaped leaves that’s existed in some form for around 200 million years (it’s earned the nickname “the living fossil” for its longevity as a species). It can also live to a suspected 2,000 years of age and grow over 130 feet high. Naturally, this meant it gained a lot of attention in its native home China, where it’s been used in traditional medicine for millennia.
Traditional Chinese medicines would prescribe ginkgo biloba (also known as Yín Xìng Yè) for ailments like bladder ailments and issues concerning lungs, like difficulty breathing or coughing. Usually, the leaves are dried and it’s served as a tea, with special attention being paid to its flavour. It’s also used for two reasons relevant to us: ‘sexual energy’ and increased blood flow. More on those later.
You may be more familiar with ginkgo biloba in its supplement form, with doses now being standardised for reliability. This ancient treatment has survived for millions of years, to be made into easily-taken tablets to help our bodies – well, one very particular part of our bodies.
So how can ginkgo biloba help with waning libido? The answer is multifaceted and interesting, as it doesn’t directly affect the sexual organs. More accurately, it encourages subtle changes in the body that have knock-on effects on your ability and drive to perform. Let’s go through those changes:
Helping Libido via Blood Flow
As previously mentioned, one of most well-known effects of ginkgo biloba is its ability to increase blood flow around the body. It sounds like a vague benefit, but there’s a chemical reaction happening when you take ginkgo supplements. After taking a tablet, levels of nitric oxide increase in the blood stream. This compound works on vessels around the body – including arteries – as what’s known medically as a vasodilator; it causes them to widen. This act increases the blood flow around the entire body, as well as causing blood pressure to drop, too.
Naturally, this has led many to believe that ginkgo biloba can help with sex via increasing blood flow to the genitals. Many sites on the internet recommend the supplement for erectile dysfunction for this very reason. Whilst this connection seems sound, the actual truth behind the matter is not as simple. In fact, what little research on the matter does not back up this hypothesis.
A 2008 study on 99 women with sexual dysfunction compared taking ginkgo biloba with either therapy or a placebo. Over the course of eight weeks the researchers found that only treatments that utilised sex therapy had significant increases in orgasm function. Taking ginkgo “did not significantly enhance arousal responses beyond placebo.” The research even notes how ginkgo has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle (the tissue found inside the penis and uterus) but this did not apparently help the participants with their dysfunction.
Despite this lack of research and conclusive data, the internet is full of sites that mention how ginkgo biloba’s blood pressure-reducing properties can help increase the flow to your genitals. It may seem then that this discussion is over, but there’s more to libido than just making sure that everything is ‘working.’
Ginkgo Biloba, Antidepressants and Anxiety
According to a 2014 survey, almost 20% of people aged 16 and over show signs of depression. Out of those, many take a type of antidepressant called selection serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to help control the symptoms. However, the collective side effects of SSRIs include many that affect sex: decreased sensitivity, delayed orgasm and, most pertinently, loss of sex drive. It’s not exactly known why these changes take place. Since the brain is an incredibly complex organ and SSRIs change the chemistry of it, they can have repercussions on countless reactions happening at any one time.
There’s been research into how ginkgo biloba can assist the brain with various forms of cognitive decline. What’s interesting, though, is a study on how it can help brains on antidepressants. Back in 1998, a study on the subject took place: it found that ginkgo had a positive effect on all parts of what’s known as the “sexual response cycle” of those who were taking SSRIS.
Staying on mental health, anxiety can also have a negative effect on your libido. It seems obvious, but when your mind is filled to bursting with anxious thoughts and ideas, it makes relaxing hard – sex is the last thing on your mind. That’s without even mentioning potential sources of anxiety, like being unconfident in your body, social anxiety or other sources.
There’s some proof that Ginkgo biloba can assist with generalised anxiety disorders, especially when combined with other forms of treatment, like therapy. The current theory as to why it’s effective is as follows: because as the vessels in the brain dilate after taking the supplement, more neurotransmitters can be circulated that help the chemical balance of the brain. So, although ginkgo isn’t directly interfering with the chemistry, the increased blood flow that comes with the supplement can boost the circulated of important substances.
There’s some evidence that ginkgo biloba can help regain your libido, but it’s not in the way that you might think. Its blood flow-increasing properties don’t work directly, but instead affect the source of all sexual urges – the brain. There’s little scientific evidence to suggest that ginkgo can influence your genitals directly, but when it comes to those on antidepressants or with anxiety disorders, it may be able to help them reignite their sex life.
Please talk to your doctor before using any supplements you fear may interfere with your medication. Also, please do not use ginkgo biloba as a replacement for any medication you may have.