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BJSM reviews: A–Z of nutritional supplements: dietary supplements, sports nutrition foods and ergogenic aids for health and performance. Part 17
  1. D S Senchina1,
  2. S Bermon2,
  3. S J Stear3,
  4. L M Burke4,
  5. L M Castell5
  1. 1Biology Department, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, USA
  2. 2Monaco Institute of Sports Medicine and Surgery, Monaco
  3. 3Performance Influencers Limited, London, UK
  4. 4Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
  5. 5University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to L M Castell, University of Oxford, Green Templeton College, Oxford OX2 6HG, UK; lindy.castell{at}

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Introductory remarks

In Part 17 of this series, we continue with the ‘G's,’ taking a closer look at ginkgo, ginseng, green tea, garlic, and briefly glandulars. Ginkgo, traditionally available as ginkgo leaf extracts in teas, is now more commonly found as a supplement in tablet form, with evidence suggesting some utility haemorrheologically. Ginseng is found in many products, with the most common forms being tablet and drinks, and is believed to work as a stimulant to enhance performance by increasing alertness in a similar manner to caffeine. Green tea, more recently in the supplement market, and garlic, a longstanding supplement, are of interest to consumers for their potential antioxidant properties. Glandulars are popular with body builders, and are ingested in the hope that they will produce anabolic effects by boosting the body's production of hormones.

Ginkgo, ginseng and green tea

D S Senchina


Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba, spelled ‘ginkgo’ but often pronounced ‘gingko’) is native to eastern Asia. Traditionally, ginkgo leaves were extracted in teas to aid memory or improve circulation, but today supplements are more commonly tablets containing ∼25% glycosides and ∼6.5% lactones, the purported bioactive constituents.1 As an ergogenic aid, ginkgo has been considered for claudication (peripheral artery disease) therapy in older adults; however, studies have found that treatment with ginkgo+exercise therapy is equivocal to exercise therapy alone.1 2 Ginkgo extract has been considered for mountain sickness or to offset haemorrheological problems associated with exercise at altitude, with one study suggesting it may or may not mitigate altitude sickness contingent on product-specific differences, which may also explain heterogeneity in previous studies.3 Effects of ginkgo supplementation on blood pressure or salivary cortisol production differed by gender, nature of stress and time of day.4 The combined evidence suggests ginkgo may have some …

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  • LB, LC and SS edited this series.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned, not externally peer reviewed.