Learn More About Ginkgo Biloba
What is ginkgo biloba?
Paleontologists classify ginkgo biloba as one of the world’s few “living fossils,” a species of tree largely unchanged for eons, and for the last several thousand years revered by Buddhists and Confucians. This hardy plant thrives in the smoggy, polluted cities of Asia, and, thanks to the radiation-resistant properties that stem from its high antioxidant content, was virtually the only living thing to survive within a half-mile radius of the 1945 Hiroshima atomic blast. Ginkgo biloba can also lay claim to being the source of the most famous and widely used medicinal herbs in the world.
The oddly shaped leaf of the ginkgo tree not only contains a wide array of terpenes and antioxidants, but also ginkgolides as well, unique substances found nowhere but in this remarkable plant. Researchers believe that ginkgo derives much of its usefulness from these biologically active compounds.
What are the uses of ginkgo biloba?
A number of clinical studies conducted in both Europe and America over the last twenty years suggest that standardized extracts of ginkgo biloba can exert a powerful and beneficial effect on brain function in the elderly and possibly the young as well.
Theories as to why this might be the case abound. Some scientists contend that ginkgo’s reputed effects stem from its well known-blood thinning properties, and that these may in turn result in improved circulation to the central nervous system. Other researchers suspect that the ginkolide molecule found in this herb stimulates the production of NGF-1, also known as Nerve Growth Factor-1, which (at the risk of oversimplification) can be thought of as the brain’s version of growth hormone, since it promotes the growth and repair of brain tissue. Work in France with a standardized ginkgo extract indicates that it also appears to inhibit the formation of beta-amyloid plaque, a protein implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease.
The data suggest that ginkgo biloba enhances memory and concentration, particularly in older persons. In one double-blind Virginia study elderly test subjects dosed with extracts of ginkgo twice a day appeared to increase the number of digits they could memorize, an action much like committing a phone number to memory. Related research in other countries has yielded similar results, and today many European doctors use ginkgo as a prescription drug, particularly in France and Germany.
A three-month University of Texas project found that 120 mg of Ginkgo extract per day administered to adults with Type 2 diabetes offers protection from cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease. This was far from the only study to conclude that ginkgo has heart-healthy benefits that derive from its natural ability to decrease blood-clot formation in much the same way that aspirin does, as well as from its antioxidant potential.
Because of its apparent beneficial effects on circulation, some clinicians have proposed that ginkgo might be helpful in some cases of erectile dysfunction. To date, studies in this area are lacking, although observational evidence suggests that ginkgo can aid in regaining sexual function lost due to the side effects of some medications.
How much ginkgo biloba is usually taken?
In most clinical studies, 120 mg per day of ginkgo biloba is administered daily, usually in divided doses, sixty milligrams morning and evening. Ginkgo can be taken as a tea or a liquid extract, although the more convenient tablet and capsule forms are usually preferred by most people. Evidence suggests that a novel form of this supplement called ginkgo phytosome, in which the herbal extract is bound with a component of lecithin called phosphatiduyl choline may greatly enhance absorption.
Is ginkgo biloba safe?
Ginkgo appears to be safe for the great majority of users, although those who take certain medications, such as prescription blood thinners, or who have bleeding disorders should consult with a knowledgeable physician before using this herb.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.