For LOW TESTOSTERONE, ginkgo stimulates Leydig cells in the testes to boost their testosterone output, and also keeps cortisol levels in check which further supports healthy testosterone levels. In addition, ginkgo enhances the effects of nitric oxide which is necessary for testosterone production. Testosterone is one of the key hormones for optimal men’s health. Not only is maintaining a normal testosterone level vital for a man’s sexual health, it is now known to be critical for emotional health and longevity, as well.
Ginkgo biloba, or maidenhair, is a beautiful tree with fan-shaped green leaves. As the only surviving member of an ancient order of plants and one of the oldest living tree species on Earth, it’s often referred to as a living fossil. It was first used medicinally in China around 2,800 B.C. as a brain tonic. While its leaves and seeds are used in traditional Chinese medicine, modern research primarily focuses on ginkgo extract, which is made from the leaves. Although scientists have found more than 40 active components in ginkgo, its plant-based antioxidants –or flavonoids – and terpenoids are the two believed to have a medicinal effect. Laboratory and animal studies show that flavonoids protect the nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels, and retina from damage while terpenoids, such as ginkgolides, improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels and reduce the stickiness of platelets.
Herbal medicine long has been used in the management of sexual dysfunction for both men and women. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginkgo seeds were used to open “channels” of energy to different organ systems: Ginkgo’s ability to increase blood flow to various parts of the body may be the origin of many of its benefits. Many patients have attested to the efficacy of this treatment. Today, randomized controlled trials on the benefits of ginkgo for testosterone support in humans are in process.
Ginkgo supports optimal testosterone levels through several mechanisms:
- It directly stimulates the Leydig cells in a man’s testes, which produce testosterone. Ginkgo can also support Leydig cell formation, helping to maintain a healthy number of Leydig cells. In addition it has a possible antioxidant role in protecting Leydig cells from oxidative damage.
- Ginkgo prevents spikes in the adrenal stress hormone cortisol. Since cortisol is a known antagonist of testosterone, ginkgo’s action to calm cortisol leads to better testosterone levels. Testosterone levels fluctuate with mood, and tend to rise with happiness and success, and drop with stress, depression and other emotional disorders. Lack of energy, poor circulation, and a busy, stressful lifestyle can increase production of the stress hormone, cortisol, and ginkgo keeps cortisol levels in check. Human research shows that the administration of cortisol into a man’s circulation will reduce his blood testosterone levels. In one study of forty-five healthy men, researchers demonstrated that high levels of cortisol had a highly significant negative effect on circulating testosterone concentrations.1 Thus, we know that ginkgo can indirectly raise testosterone by lowering cortisol, which also protects other organs from stress-induced damage.
- Ginkgo boosts nitric oxide production in the Leydig cells in the testes, where testosterone is made. Nitric oxide (NO) stimulates testosterone production, and thus NO and testosterone are inextricably linked. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that is recognized as an intra‐ and intercellular messenger for the control of several cellular functions, including the modulation of hormone secretion. Specifically, in vitro studies demonstrated that NO increases gonadotrophin secretion, which is an initial precursor necessary to produce testosterone.2 In this way, ginkgo supports nitric oxide formation leading to better testosterone synthesis.
A 2008 Chinese study showed that the ginkgo biloba plant was able to stimulate production of testosterone in the Leydig cells of the testes. After twelve weeks of treatment with ginkgo biloba extract, researchers noted significantly increased concentrations of circulating blood testosterone.3
In a Slovakian study published in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, seventy subjects were given a physical and psychological stress test, with test subjects receiving 120mg of ginkgo extract 30 minutes prior to the test. The ginkgo extract was observed to blunt the rise of the stress hormone cortisol through two avenues: It slowed the release of the hormone (ACTH) responsible for stimulating the adrenals to secrete cortisol, and reduced the conversion of cholesterol to cortisol in the adrenal glands. Therefore, ginkgo extract slows both the release and conversion of cortisol. 4
In our clinic, we have seen excellent results for ginkgo’s action with supporting healthy testosterone levels. Our male patients taking ginkgo over several months have reported better sexual function, improved mood and motivation, and more physical endurance. Many of these men had significantly improved blood testosterone levels, reaching the optimal 500 to 700 ng/dL, with free testosterone at 10 to 13 ng/dL. In order to get maximum benefit studies show that ginkgo should be taken for at least 4 to 6 weeks to exert its full effects.
strong>Recommendation: Ginkgo biloba 80 to 160mg, ideally with 24% flavone glycosides, 6% terpene lactones, and including some ginkgo whole leaf for trace nutrients. Take 2 to 3 times daily, best between meals; or as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Brownlee, Kaye K., Alex W. Moore, and Anthony C. Hackney. “Relationship between circulating cortisol and testosterone: influence of physical exercise.” Journal of sports science & medicine 4.1 (2005): 76.
- Valenti, Sandra, et al. “Biphasic effect of nitric oxide on testosterone and cyclic GMP production by purified rat Leydig cells cultured in vitro.” International journal of andrology 22.5 (1999): 336-341.
- Wu, X. Y., et al. “Ginkgo biloba extract enhances testosterone synthesis of Leydig cells in type 2 diabetic rats.” National journal of andrology 14.4 (2008): 371-376.
- Jezova D, Duncko R, Lassanova M, Kriska M, Moncek F. “Reduction of rise in blood pressure and cortisol release during stress by Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) in healthy volunteers.”J Physiol Pharmacol 2002 Sep;53(3):337-48.
- Zheng HZ, Dong ZH, She Q. Modern research and application of traditional Chinese medicine. Beijing: Xueyuan; 1998. p. 4225–54.