Japanese Herb Series 5 : Ginkgo ; The Herb Called "Living Fossil"

 When the ginkgo boulevards turn yellow, I feel the depth of autumn. It is a blissful time to walk along the avenue or in the park, stepping on the fallen leaves.

Ginkgo's leaves resemble the shape of a fan, which makes me feel cheerful when I look at it. In Japan, the shape spread toward the bottom is considered to imply a good future.

Ginkgo Avenue in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki

Ginkgo is called "living fossil" because it has an amazing life force and has been living on the earth for more than 200 million years. In Japan, it is a symbol of longevity.

Ginkgo is native to China and the seeds and leaves have lots of positive effects.
The seeds have nourishing, tonic and muscle-relaxing effects and are said to improve headaches, diarrhea, nausea, rashes, mouth ulcers, high blood pressure and coughs.

The seeds (called "ginnan" in Japanese) are eaten added to stir-fries or chawan-mushi (steamed egg custard) after boiling or roasting. Also eaten as a snack with alcohol.

(Note: Ginnan can cause poisoning if consumed in excess, so limit it to about 10 nuts a day for adults.)

Commercially available ginkgo tea with dried leaves, is used as a preparation, mainly in Europe, to improve symptoms of tinnitus, impaired memory and thinking ability, disturbed circulation, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

(Note: Do not use self-picked tea leaves, as they can cause side effects. Do not use it with anticoagulants such as warfarin.)

How to enjoy Ginkgo

Ginnan tea


□Kernels (seeds in the inner seed coat) taken from ginkgo nuts : 10 g (about 15 seeds)
□2 cups of water

<How to make>

Brew the ginkgo kernels with 2 cups of water for 20 minutes.

Ginnan snack

<How to make>

Put the lightly cracked ginkgo nuts in a dish, cover with plastic wrap, and heat in the microwave for 1 minute at 500W. When slightly cooled, remove the outer shells and sprinkle with salt and they are ready to serve. You can also use it as it is for cooking. Be careful not to eat too much. (10 nuts for adults and 5 nuts for children is the recommended daily amount.)

"The Plants That Can Be Medicinal by Yourself", supervised by Kazuo Masuda, Kashiwa-shobo
"The All About Herbs Encyclopedia by Japan Herb Society", published by Natsume-sha


Although there are a variety of active ingredients in herbs, some herbs cannot be used during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Please consult with your physician and use your own judgment. The author is not responsible for any loss or impairment caused by the use based on this blog.