Ginkgo Biloba and Tinnitus: Separating Fact from Fiction

Ginkgo biloba leaves and supplements

Tinnitus is a condition that has been linked to high levels of stress and anxiety. A disorder affecting the inner ear and causing the perception of phantom sounds, tinnitus can be difficult to diagnose, and tinnitus treatment has remained a matter of gambling for many tinnitus patients who have not received adequate care or a robust treatment plan. Effective tinnitus treatment is not always found in a doctor’s office and generalized anxiety can experience an increase in response to the onset of symptoms. As a result, some have turned to alternatives to drug therapies and other interventions, in the hope of receiving more natural interventions to stop tinnitus loudness or decrease tinnitus severity. What exactly is ginkgo biloba, and how is it used for tinnitus?

What Is Ginkgo Biloba?

Put simply, ginkgo biloba is a type of tree. Ginkgo biloba extract from its leaves can be used to create different forms of supplements that some individuals believe can improve circulation and boost antioxidant levels. Initially bursting onto the scene as a weight loss supplement, as an herbal supplement, ginkgo biloba has been used to manage tinnitus loudness and lessen tinnitus severity. This particular supplement is usually found in capsule form, though it can also be found in tablets and liquid formulas.

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The active ingredients in ginkgo biloba supplements are flavonoids, or compounds that have been linked to decreases in cancer risk, Alzheimer’s risk, and more. Flavonoids have antioxidant effects in the body, and these dietary supplements are often considered herbal medicines to address weight, inflammation in the body, and more general health concerns. Ginkgo biloba has been used somewhat safely for years, though primary outcomes vary widely. As it is not widely recommended for any particular condition, and because it is not a recognized treatment for any one condition, there are no current dosage requirements or recommendations, or even a formal way to report any adverse effects that may occur during use.

Ultimately, ginkgo biloba extract is a dietary supplement that has been used for a wide variety of ills. It is not currently considered an effective tinnitus treatment option, which we will delve into in greater detail below.

Is Ginkgo Biloba Safe To Consume?

ginkgo tree leaves

Although you should always consult with your physician before taking any new medication or supplement, experts believe that consuming certain amounts of ginkgo biloba in specific forms is likely safe for most healthy adults. Side effects of ginkgo biloba may include a variety of unwanted or harmful effects such as heart palpitations or headaches. If you have other health issues or are taking other medications, please use caution, as there are certain conditions that may be negatively affected by ginkgo biloba.

Although the use of ginkgo biloba for tinnitus demonstrates a “reasonably safe profile,” questions about its effectiveness for treating tinnitus remain. Although adverse effects reported are usually mild, engaging in a treatment regimen that does not actually diminish tinnitus symptoms or tinnitus symptom severity can use up valuable time and resources, and the jury is still out as to whether ginkgo biloba for tinnitus is a worthwhile investment.

Why Do Some People Use Ginkgo Biloba for Tinnitus?

There are many reports of researchers studying the effects of ginkgo biloba on auditory and vestibular issues. Some believe that ginkgo biloba may be an effective tinnitus treatment because it may help to enhance neural plasticity. Neuroplasticity refers to our brain’s ability to adapt to change. This concept is an important aspect of dealing with chronic tinnitus. It has also been reported that ginkgo biloba may improve blood flow to certain areas of the body.

Although ginkgo biloba for tinnitus is not officially sanctioned by any governing bodies for tinnitus treatment, the preliminary research findings and anecdotal evidence both suggest some legitimate reason behind seeking out ginkgo biloba extract when trying to reduce tinnitus symptom severity or get to the root of the issue altogether. That being said, when an intervention involved ginkgo biloba, the results were not substantial enough to warrant shifting to this supplement in favor of existing tinnitus treatments. If studies compared ginkgo biloba combined with other forms of treatment that are tried-and-true and ginkgo alone, there may be more reason to continue looking into the supplement.

What Does Research Say About Using Ginkgo Biloba For Tinnitus?

Although there are many articles focusing on this topic, there is not strong evidence supporting the use of ginkgo biloba for tinnitus. Some research has supported its use because it may be helpful to some individuals and probably is not harmful to most individuals. On the other hand, other research has indicated that it is not helpful in improving tinnitus symptom severity. A recent Cochrane review looked at clinical trials. The study compared ginkgo biloba versus placebo and concluded that ginkgo biloba does not have an impact on tinnitus when compared to the effects of a placebo; instead tinnitus symptom severity measured the same between different interventions.

At this time, clinical trials do not support the use of ginkgo biloba for tinnitus. Clinical management strategies to treat tinnitus or lessen symptom severity focus more on approaching the condition from multiple angles, and use a more holistic approach, including addressing mental and physical health, utilizing medication when possible to diminish tinnitus loudness, and employing lifestyle strategies rather than ginkgo biloba extracts. Ginkgo biloba for tinnitus may be tempting, but ultimately the studies evaluating ginkgo biloba versus placebo did not produce promising or positive results for chronic subjective tinnitus and other forms of the condition.

Other Tinnitus Treatment Options

Woman speaking with someone

Ginkgo biloba may not be the ideal treatment option for tinnitus. From having few studies actually evaluating tinnitus severity and its response to ginkgo biloba, to possible interactions with medications, there are other treatment avenues that may more effectively address a desire to move on from the anxiety and frustration of having tinnitus. These other tinnitus treatment options include:

  • Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is a type of therapy that focuses on the mental and emotional responses people with tinnitus have in response to the effects of tinnitus. Rather than relying on external applications of medicine or changes, like turning to the shaky effects of ginkgo biloba, TRT teaches users how to more positively and carefully think about their tinnitus in order to reduce the way tinnitus loudness impacts them.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that seeks to identify patterns in thinking and disrupt negative patterns to improve health. CBT can help tinnitus patients implement coping skills to reduce negative side effects of tinnitus such as distress and frustration. 
  • Hearing Aids. Hearing aids can be enormously helpful as an effective tinnitus treatment, because they allow tinnitus patients to experience statistically significant changes in symptom severity, and tinnitus loudness measured lower in individuals using this intervention than those who go without.
  • Multidisciplinary Tinnitus Treatment. A multidisciplinary treatment can utilize all of the approaches above, and more. Drug therapies, tinnitus retraining therapy, CBT, and hearing aids can all be used to lessen tinnitus severity and manage the effects of the disorder. Ginkgo biloba is not included in this approach, as there are not enough studies to truly support its use in this arena.

Addressing bothersome tinnitus is not typically achieved by implementing a single strategy such as utilizing ginkgo biloba extract, but instead involves approaching tinnitus treatment from multiple sides. When chronic subjective tinnitus is effectively managed by necessary professionals, the presence of this disorder need not touch and negatively impact every area of your life. With consistent application and dedication, tinnitus severity may diminish, and create positive results often only seen in active tinnitus treatment clinical trials. By supporting cerebral blood flow, mental health, and general physical health, individuals can experience effective tinnitus treatment and tremendously improve their quality of life.

Should Ginkgo Biloba Be Used For Tinnitus?

Tinnitus loudness and primary outcomes do not rely on ginkgo biloba administration. Although there has been some interest in ginkgo biloba to treat tinnitus, studies that measured tinnitus severity following ginkgo biloba administration were mixed at best and not supportive. Randomized controlled trials aim to evaluate ginkgo biloba compared to a placebo response, and have regularly demonstrated that clinical management strategies and existing therapies are the most effective ways to manage tinnitus – most of them without adverse effects reported. ​​While there remains some interest in the supplement, the ongoing use of it is not supported by current research.  

Because the effects of ginkgo biloba on tinnitus loudness and severity have not been definitively positive, most current recommendations focus on easing anxiety symptoms, changing an individual’s response to tinnitus, utilizing recommended interventions like hearing aids and medication, and identifying the root cause of tinnitus. By addressing all of these areas first, patients do not typically report adverse effects or consider treatment ineffective, and experience a significant change in symptoms. Using ginkgo biloba for tinnitus is not currently recommended; instead, relying on the treatments offered by audiologists and preventing further damage to the ear are the current recommendations to manage tinnitus. Using ginkgo biloba for tinnitus should be left in the lab for the present. 

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