When discussing medicinal plants or natural medicine, Ginkgo biloba and Ginseng are considered beneficial. Some people claim that both help improve people’s mental health. Others say that they come with other benefits too.

Despite similarities, the two also come with differences. Does scientific evidence support the claims? If so, how do they differ from each other? Which one is better?

Basically, each of them comes from a different origin, which also means that each comes with a distinct set of compounds and chemical composition. With that, we present to you the key differences between Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng. Also, find out if you can use them together.

Ginkgo Biloba vs. Ginseng: Differences

Ginkgo Biloba Vs. Ginseng
Source: Canva

We can contrast Ginkgo Biloba with Ginseng through the following general key concepts:

  • Origin and compound
  • Benefits
  • Risks
  • Side effects

Ginkgo Biloba vs. Ginseng: Origin and Compound

To start with the comparison, let us begin with the origin of Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng. 

Ginkgo Biloba

According to the National Institutes of Health, Ginkgo biloba originates from the Ginkgo tree. Such a tree is said to be one of the oldest trees in the world. Its product had been part of traditional Chinese medicine. Nowadays, it is being adopted for commercial use.

As part of the dietary supplement, Ginkgo Biloba extract is taken from its leaves. Meanwhile, when talking about its compound or chemical composition. [1][2][3]

Ginseng

As for Ginseng, it has been identified as having different types. However, Asian ginseng is widely used and originated from the Far East. Such a place includes far-eastern Siberia, Korea, and China.

Like Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng is also a part of traditional Chinese medicine. However, it comes with different subtypes. For instance, when you hear the terms red ginseng and White ginseng, both are from Asian ginseng roots. [4][5]

Ginkgo Biloba vs. Ginseng Benefits

Ginkgo Biloba Vs. Ginseng
Source: Canva

When it comes to benefits, Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng are quite like each other. For instance, people use them to address mental health issues and certain physical health problems, especially those involving overall well-being.

Despite that, they still come with certain differences. Take cognition and mental health improvement as an example.

Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng on Cognition 

The National Institutes of Health stated that there is insufficient evidence that Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng enhance cognitive abilities and delay cognitive decline. However, there are already studies that support such a claim.

In one study conducted among persons with Alzheimer’s disease, it was found that Ginseng improves their cognitive functions. Although it cannot reverse the damage, it can alleviate its symptoms. [6][7]

Meanwhile, there is another study concerning the effect of Ginkgo Biloba on people with dementia. The result showed that A greater dose than 200mg of such improves the quality of daily living, cognitive performance, and global clinical impression of the treatment. [8]

The difference between the two is the activity they do in the body. Ginkgo Biloba is good in the augmentation of the brain’s blood flow. On the other hand, Ginseng activates the production of Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, one of the hormones responsible for stress regulation.

Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng on Mental Health Improvement

Mentioned above was the difference between Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng in terms of the activity they do in the body. For the same reason, Ginseng may help reduce the risk of developing anxiety and depression. Moreover, it may also prevent stress-associated physiological diseases.

Ginkgo Biloba also helps improve anxiety symptoms. However, it also helps people with premenstrual syndrome and schizophrenia. [9]

Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng on Other Physical Health Benefits

For other beneficial effects, both natural medicines have differences in sets of other health benefits. Likewise, Ginkgo Biloba may benefit people with diabetic retinopathy, peripheral artery disease, and glaucoma.

On the other hand, Ginseng’s other beneficial effects include enhanced glucose metabolism and lowered blood sugar levels. However, this should not be the automatic solution to diabetes. Consulting your physician is still recommended. [10][11][12]

Ginkgo Biloba vs. Ginseng Risks 

Ginkgo Biloba Vs. Ginseng
Source: Canva

Regarding risks, it appears from research that there is only a slight difference between the two. According to the National Institutes of Health, Ginkgo Biloba is safe for most people. However, it is best to take it through the mouth and in moderate amounts. [13]

There was also a finding that continuous usage of Ginkgo Biloba may increase your risk of developing liver and thyroid cancer. Taking it during pregnancy may also be unsafe. Moreover, it is important to be careful with unprocessed ginkgo leaves as they contain toxic substances.

As for Ginseng, short-term oral use of such is safe. Like Ginkgo Biloba, the amount should be moderated too. Six months is the maximum duration of safe usage. [14][15]

Ginkgo Biloba vs. Ginseng: Side Effects

Ginkgo Biloba Vs. Ginseng
Source: Canva

The two natural medicinal products come with different sets of side effects too. Ginseng’s side effects include:

  • Insomnia
  • Menstrual problems
  • Increased heart rate
  • High/low blood pressure
  • Digestive problems
  • Breast pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache

As for Ginkgo Biloba, side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Stomach upset
  • Constipation
  • Allergic skin reactions

If you know that you risk bleeding, it is best to avoid this product. Additionally, avoid using both products with other drugs without consulting your doctor to avoid unpleasant drug interactions. [16][17]

Bottomline

Both Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng are used in traditional Chinese medicines. Both also come with potential health benefits. However, differences between them exist despite similarities. They differ in their origin, ingredients, sets of benefits, risks, and side effects.

FAQs

There is no absolute answer to such a question. Since Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng come with different sets of benefits, side effects, and risks, deciding which one to use or which one is better will depend on one’s needs and tolerance.
While it is possible to combine the two, research about its consequences is not substantial enough to draw a single conclusion. However, studies found that such a combination has a promising effect on the cardiovascular system and memory performance.
Each medicine may have an undesirable effect when combined with other drugs. If you are undergoing medication, consult your doctor before using such natural urbs.

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.

Editorial References and Fact-Checking

  1. Jahan, S., & Amin, M. M. (2018). Naturally occurring diterpenes: Chemistry and biology. Natural Products Chemistry & Research, 6(3), 318.
  2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (n.d.). Asian ginseng. Retrieved June 10, 2023, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/asian-ginseng
  3. Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2010). Effects of adaptogens on the central nervous system and the molecular mechanisms associated with their stress—protective activity. Pharmaceuticals, 3(1), 188-224.
  4. Rastogi, S., & Pal, R. (2012). Herbal remedies to treat anxiety disorders. Mental Health Clinician, 2(2), 15-18.
  5. Reay, J. L., Kennedy, D. O., & Scholey, A. B. (2010). Effects of Panax ginseng, consumed with and without glucose, on blood glucose levels and cognitive performance during sustained ‘mentally demanding’ tasks. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 24(10), 1505-1514.
  6. Saruwatari, J., Makiura, R., Kuroshima, S., Asaoka, K., Tsukamoto, Y., Nakano, T., … & Sasaki, K. (2018). Immobilization of bioactive lactoferrin on zirconia by dopamine self-polymerization for enhancing osseointegration. Materials Science and Engineering: C, 92, 112-121.
  7. Schepetkin, I. A., & Quinn, M. T. (2006). Botanical polysaccharides: Macrophage immunomodulation and therapeutic potential. International Immunopharmacology, 6(3), 317-333.
  8. Si, H., Wyeth, R. P., Liu, D., & Xue, C. C. (2011). Pharmacology and clinical trials of Panax ginseng. Journal of Ginseng Research, 36(4), 225-238.
  9. Sowndhararajan, K., Deepa, P., Kim, M., & Park, S. J. (2018). An overview of neuroprotective and cognitive enhancement properties of lignans from Schisandra chinensis. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 97, 958-968.
  10. Wang, D., Zhang, Y., Lu, J., Wang, Y., & Wang, Y. (2012). Experimental research of the lipid-lowering effects of Polygonum cuspidatum extract. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 4(3), 459-462.
  11. Choi, J. G., Kang, O. H., Lee, Y. S., Oh, Y. C., Chae, H. S., Jang, H. J., … & Kwon, D. Y. (2016). In vitro and in vivo antibacterial activity of Dracaena cinnabari resin extract against oral pathogens. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016, 1-10. doi: 10.1155/2016/9682187
  12. Hu, M., Luo, Q., Alitongbieke, Geng, Y., He, Z., Cao, X., … & Zhou, H. (2017). Natural compound oblongifolin C inhibits autophagic flux, enhances apoptosis and induces premature senescence in human gastric cancer AGS cells. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8, 790. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2017.00790
  13. Kim, S. H., Yu, H. M., Kim, H. J., Lee, J. H., Lee, M. Y., Lee, J. S., … & Cho, S. J. (2018). Protective effects of Persicaria tinctoria extract on dextran sulfate sodium-induced experimental colitis. Nutrients, 10(2), 174. doi: 10.3390/nu10020174
  14. Kim, S. Y., Oh, H. J., Won, G. M., Lee, J. H., Ryu, H. W., & Kim, Y. S. (2018). Inhibitory effects of Gentiana scabra root extracts on advanced glycation end product formation and key enzymes related to metabolic syndrome. Molecules, 23(3), 553. doi: 10.3390/molecules23030553
  15. Koirala, N., Thuan, N. H., Ghimire, G. P., Joshi, S., & Jin, S. G. (2011). Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of some selected medicinal plants. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 5(17), 4054-4060. doi: 10.5897/JMPR11.368
  16. Ogunbodede, E. O., Awotedu, F. A., & Adebawo, O. (2006). Oral care practices and antibiotic usage among health care workers in a Nigerian tertiary hospital. African Journal of Oral Health, 3(1), 12-18. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490168/#:~:text=RESULTS,other%20risk%20factors%20for%20bleeding.
  17. Wu, X., & Darout, I. A. (2012). A review of the effectiveness of Ganoderma lucidum as a treatment for oral conditions. Journal of Medicinal Food, 15(9), 888-894. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2012.0010
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Lily R. Guion, BSc

Meet Lily Guion, a skilled health and medical writer with over 4 years of experience in the field. With a degree in Biology and prior work experience in the laboratory of a food company, Lily has developed a deep understanding of the importance of accurate and reliable health information. As a writer, she excels at creating informative content on a wide range of topics, including nutrition, diet, safe pregnancy, children's health, medicine, cannabis, and health supplements. Her ultimate goal is to provide readers with accurate and valuable information that empowers them to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. LinkedIn

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  • Meet Lily Guion, a skilled health and medical writer with over 4 years of experience in the field. With a degree in Biology and prior work experience in the laboratory of a food company, Lily has developed a deep understanding of the importance of accurate and reliable health information. As a writer, she excels at creating informative content on a wide range of topics, including nutrition, diet, safe pregnancy, children's health, medicine, cannabis, and health supplements. Her ultimate goal is to provide readers with accurate and valuable information that empowers them to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. LinkedIn

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Meet Lily Guion, a skilled health and medical writer with over 4 years of experience in the field. With a degree in Biology and prior work experience in the laboratory of a food company, Lily has developed a deep understanding of the importance of accurate and reliable health information. As a writer, she excels at creating informative content on a wide range of topics, including nutrition, diet, safe pregnancy, children's health, medicine, cannabis, and health supplements. Her ultimate goal is to provide readers with accurate and valuable information that empowers them to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. LinkedIn