Gingko Biloba is rightly classified as one of the most beneficial medicinal herbs known to man. Its uses date literally back thousands of years.
It has long been recognized as one of the very best memory supplements known to humankind.
Gingko also has an illustrious history as it is considered to come from the oldest tree species on earth, the Maidenhair — a species of tree that dates back literally over 200 million years!
These trees grow to over 100 feet tall and have a long resistance to pests, disease, man-made pollution and the like.
In fact, if you’ve ever been to New York City, the most common tree in Manhattan is the ginkgo tree. The tree was introduced to the U.S. in 1784 when Europeans brought it to America for use as an ornamental tree.
Nevertheless, the medicinal quality of Gingko leaves have been much more popular in the East than in the eminently practical West.
The first mention in Chinese herbals of use of the gingko leaves, from which the herb’s efficacy comes from, was during the Min dynasty in 1436.
It was written about in Lan Mao’s Dian Nan Ben Cao, which is the “Southern of History Natural.”
The Benefits of Gingko Biloba
Gingko Biloba extract possesses unique ginkgolides and bilobilides, a complex group of compounds found only in the gingko tree. Gingko is truly and literally one of a kind. Active ingredients in Gingko Biloba show strong antioxidant properties as well as having platelets inhibiting properties. (Platalets are involved in the blood clotting process.)
The ginkgolides have an anti-platelet activating factor (PAF) action, thus helping to modulate various enzyme systems and ion pumps. The PAF antagonist effect of ginkgolides explains Ginkgo’s broad-spectrum and far reaching biological activity.
The benefits of Gingko are:
- Memory improvement
- Eases depression
- It acts as an antioxidant
- Increases blood flow — thus good for angina and erectile dysfunction
- Helps thin the blood (studies have show it to have a vascular regulating effect thus helping to modulate brain energy metabolism).
- Eases somewhat the symptoms of asthma
- Improves general mental acuity and cognitive function
In a study published October 22, 1997 by the AMA (American Medical Association) as reported in the Journal of The American Medical Association, the study of this particular herbal medicine spiked interest in Gingko as a possible treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The study affirmed that the herb can improve mental acuity with those who have Alzheimer’s. Randomized, double-blind studies with both a control and treatment group are the most scientifically valid tests.
With that said, according to an article written by one Gabe Romain, entitled Gingko Boosts Memory, Brain Scan Shows, says, “Long touted for its beneficial effects on memory, the herbal supplement gingko biloba has demonstrated in brain scans to improve verbal recall among people with age-related memory impairment.” Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles Neuropsychiatric Institute used positron-emission tomography to study brain regions associated with memory and found that gingko biloba correlated with better brain functioning in these areas. …
“The herb works by increasing blood flow throughout the body and is thought to support memory recall by repairing circulatory malfunctions in the brain.”
See the report here. According to other research,
“Gingko biloba is approved in Germany for the treatment of dementia. There are over 1200 published studies in the scientific literature on gingko biloba extract. In one study, patients with memory disturbances were supplemented with gingko biloba. Following gingko treatment, 15% of patients reported the total absence of memory disturbance symptoms and 62% reported that the remaining symptoms were mild to moderate.”
http://www.lef.org/protocols/prtcls-txt/t-prtcl-007.html. It should be noted in both studies, researchers made a point that there are sometimes differing results due they believe to the potency of the batches and quality of the Gingko Biloba used.
Ginkgo Biloba has even grown in popularity in pop culture.
One popular U.S. comedian mentioned Ginkgo in his comedy routine as well as mentioning the benefits. His problem, he said, was that he couldn’t remember to take it! Moral of story: Don’t forget to take your Gingko Biloba!
Gingko is a powerful anticoagulant or blood thinner. With that in mind, if you are taking medication that is already intended to thin your blood like Coumadin or even plain aspirin, please talk with your doctor first before using it.
Some side effects of taking gingko, although they are very rare, include diarrhea, allergic reactions, and stomach discomfort. Overall, the herb appears to be extremely safe even when taken long-term.
Choosing Good Gingko
1. The raw ingredients used should be pharmaceutical grade and supported by scientific clinical studies. Memory supplements should ideally be produced at pharmaceutical standard GMP registered facilities.
Facilities that are GMP registered comply with the most rigid standards so as to minimize the possibility of product contaminants. (These are the same standards pharmaceutical companies in the United States are required to operate under as mandated by the FDA.)
2. Ensure the supplement manufacturer has a Certificate of Analysis (COA) on file for review by you the customer thus confirming the potency of the herbal ingredients listed on the label.
3. Check that the gingko biloba supplement is made from standardized herbal extracts thus preserving the therapeutic benefit of the various herbs’ constituent compounds. These are the ingredients in the herb that provide a specific benefit.
Most supplement companies don’t use standardized herbal extracts as it’s too expensive to do so. 45. Remember, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine cannot be produced without vitamin B5, Biotin, and Folic Acid.
Many compounds, minerals, and vitamins in biochemistry cannot be produced alone but have co-dependence on other compounds.
Yours in health,