Is Ginkgo Biloba Safe While Drinking Alcohol?

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Ginkgo biloba is an herbal supplement used to improve brain function. Some herbal supplements interact with different medications as well as foods. Ginkgo biloba does not interact with alcohol, but both affect your blood flow and taken together may increase your risk of bleeding. Before adding any herbal supplements to your diet, you should first discuss its safety with your doctor.

Gingko Biloba

The seeds and leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree, one of the oldest tree species, are used to treat a number of disorders, including respiratory and circulatory disorders, sexual dysfunction and hearing loss. The extract of ginkgo biloba has anti-infective and anticancer properties. Ginkgo biloba is also used as a supplement to help improve cognitive function and prevent dementia and Alzheimer's, although research regarding its effectiveness has been inconclusive, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Alcohol and Blood

Drinking alcohol affects your blood cells and how they function, namely the ability of your blood to clot. Alcohol decreases platelet production and affects its function. Platelets are the cells in your blood needed for blood clots to form. Low blood platelet levels and dysfunction increases your risk of bleeding. If you take blood thinners, such as aspirin, and drink alcohol, your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding significantly increases.

Ginkgo Biloba and Alcohol

You do not have to avoid alcohol when supplementing with ginkgo biloba, according to both the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the American Academy of Family Physicians. However, ginkgo also affects blood clotting and may cause spontaneous bleeding, and it is recommended that you not take ginkgo biloba supplements with blood thinners. Combining alcohol with ginkgo biloba may further increase your risk of bleeding. If you take ginkgo biloba, talk to your doctor about alcohol and safe amounts to consume with the dietary supplement.

Other Interactions with Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba interacts with a number of different medications. It increases the effects of monoamine oxidase inhibitor and reduces the effectiveness of anti-seizure medications. In one case, ginkgo extract was associated with a coma in an Alzheimer's patient taking trazadone. It also alters insulin secretion and can affect blood glucose levels.