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Can ginkgo tea be made safe?

Can Ginkgo Tea Be Made Safe? (And Other Questions)

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It’s Q&A Day at 10almonds!

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In cases where we’ve already covered something, we might link to what we wrote before, but will always be happy to revisit any of our topics again in the future too—there’s always more to say!

As ever: if the question/request can be answered briefly, we’ll do it here in our Q&A Thursday edition. If not, we’ll make a main feature of it shortly afterwards!

So, no question/request too big or small 😎

❝I’d be interested in OTC prostrate medication safety and effectiveness.❞

Great idea! Sounds like a topic for a main feature one day soon, but while you’re waiting, you might like this previous main feature we did, about a supplement that performs equally to some prescription BPH meds:

Spotlight: Saw Palmetto

❝Was very interested in the article on ginko bilboa as i moved into a home that has the tree growing in the backyard. Is there any way i can process the leaves to make a tea out of it.❞

Glad you enjoyed! First, for any who missed it, here was the article on Ginkgo biloba:

Ginkgo Biloba, For Memory And, Uh, What Else Again?

Now, as that article noted, Ginkgo biloba seeds and leaves are poisonous. However, there are differences:

The seeds, raw or roasted, contain dangerous levels of a variety of toxins, though roasting takes away some toxins and other methods of processing (boiling etc) take away more. However, the general consensus on the seeds is “do not consume; it will poison your liver, poison your kidneys, and possibly give you cancer”:

Ginkgo biloba L. seed; A comprehensive review of bioactives, toxicants, and processing effects

The leaves, meanwhile, are much less poisonous with their ginkgolic acids, and their other relevant poison is very closely related to that of poison ivy, involving long-chain alkylphenols that can be broken down by thermolysis, in other words, heat:

Leaves, seeds and exocarp of Ginkgo biloba L. (Ginkgoaceae): A Comprehensive Review of Traditional Uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology, resource utilization and toxicity

However, this very thorough examination of the potential health benefits and risks of ginkgo tea, comes to the general conclusion “this is not a good idea, and is especially worrying in elders, and/or if taking various medications”:

Medicinal Values and Potential Risks Evaluation of Ginkgo biloba Leaf Extract (GBE) Drinks Made from the Leaves in Autumn as Dietary Supplements

In summary:

  • Be careful
  • Avoid completely if you have a stronger-than-usual reaction to poison ivy
  • If you do make tea from it, green leaves appear to be safer than yellow ones
  • If you do make tea from it, boil and stew to excess to minimize toxins
  • If you do make tea from it, doing a poison test is sensible (i.e. start with checking for a skin reaction to a topical application on the inside of the wrist, then repeat at least 6 hours later on the lips, then at least 6 hours later do a mouth swill, then at least 12 hours later drink a small amount, etc, and gradually build up to “this is safe to consume”)

For safety (and legal) purposes, let us be absolutely clear that we are not advising you that it is safe to consume a known poisonous plant, and nor are we advising you to do so.

But the hopefully only-ever theoretical knowledge of how to do a poison test is a good life skill, just in case 🙂

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