Ginkgo is not an aromatic.

Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996 13:12:36 MST
From: Michael Moore <hrbmoore.RT66.COM>
Subject: Re: Gingko Biloba as an Aromatic

>>I'm wondering whether gingko can be used as an aromatic. It's customarily drunk in a tea or swallowed in a capsule as to promote circulation. Since it allegedly effects the entire circulatory sytem, it's reputed to be a memory enhancer. My question is whether it's effective as an inhalant, and, if so, is it so strongly scented that it might be unpleasant or even have negative effects on the nasal passages?

C'mon gang...haven't ANY of you seen a Ginkgo tree and crushed a leaf? (sorry...sometimes folks forget that these Herbs come from Plants or I forget that not everyone walks around crushing or eating leaves like I do).

There is nothing of therapeutic consequence, to my knowledge, in the small amount of aromatics (miniscule, to be frank) found in the leaves of Gingko biloba. Crush 'em up and they ALL of the acknowledged biologically active constituents are thoroughly non-aromatic.

Sometimes you need a grumpy old Herbalist to remind you that:

A Medicinal Plant can supply at least FIVE different levels of healing, depending on HOW it is manipulated by us.

  1. The whole plant can be digested, either by eating or by tincturing.
  2. The water-soluble or hydrolyzable parts can be made into tea.
  3. The "gaseous" parts can be extracted by distillation, inert gases or solvents
  4. The whole plant, usually by way of a Mother Tincture, can be attenuated for its Homeopathic energy.
  5. Parts of the plant can be taken out (by REMOVING everything else) and used in a pharmaceutical fashion.

There are MANY more ways of course, ranging from Melification to etherification to burning to "Potentizing" to enfleurage to Flower-Remedy-Making to fermentation...etc etc. The first five are the most prevalent in use in the Euro-American culture.


As a "Galenic" Herbalist, I use a plant for its therapeutic value to be found in preparation methods #1 and #2.

Aromatherapists view the plant by its aromatic nature, #3.

Some plants are good therapeutics in physiologic doses, but seem to retain little "energy" when attenuated, others are drab muffins as "Herbs" but are strong and useful as Homeopathic Remedies.

And so on. A given plant may supply us with MANY different therapeutic energies, all dependent upon HOW it is manipulated.

It would be technically possible to extract volatile compounds from Gingko. But an aromatherapist would need to DISCOVER what it did in THAT would NOT do what we Herbalists or Phytotherapists (#5) use Gingko would most likely do something completely different, and completely unknown.

You can use activated charcoal for intestinal fermentation...tincture of diamonds in Ayurveda/Homeopathy. The active "ingredient" is Carbon; the MEDIA defines the therapy.

There is an excellent series of monographs written by John Uri Lloyd that goes into great bredth on this subject, entitled "Quality Versus Quantity" which can be downloaded from my website.

I will stop foaming now.

Michael Moore (