- Further Reading
- Health Uses
Ginkgo Biloba is an herb derived from the maidenhair tree. It is well known for its Antioxidant and detoxifying properties. It has been used for many years as a remedy for various conditions. Both the leaves and seeds were and are still used as an extract to provide the supplement Ginkgo Biloba. Ginkgo is the most widely used phytomedicine in Europe, and is one of the top 10 best selling alternative medicines in America. Ginkgo is also a neuroprotective agent.
Ginkgo Biloba is originally from Asia. This species of tree is known as the 'living fossil tree' as it has no living relatives, and originated from the prehistoric age.
Seven million years ago the Ginkgo tree had disappeared off fossil records, and it was thought that it had become extinct. A German scientist called Engelbert Kaempfer re-discovered the tree in 1691 in Japan, where it was studied for it's healing properties.
This tree could be one of the oldest living seed plants, with its fan shaped leaf and yellowy seeds. This plant has been mostly used in Chinese medicine, and its leaves were used in western medicine. It was researched and published in a book called Chinese medicinal herbs in 1911. The seeds were used to help treat asthma, coughs, and irritable bladders.
A note on quality (full details in the further reading section)
Ginkgolic acid-rich Ginkgo biloba can cause serious allergic skin reactions. Ginkgo extracts registered in Germany are not allowed to contain more than 5 ppm (0.0005%) ginkgolic acids. In the USA and other countries in which Ginkgo preparations are sold as food supplements, such limit values do not exist. Because of the health-damaging properties of ginkgolic acids it is urgently recommended not to take ginkgolic acid-containing products of poor quality. The Ginkgo Biloba supplied by Regenerative Nutrition is of the highest quality and exceeds the recommendation with only 3.42 PPM (0.000342%) ginkgolic acid
There have been many studies done on Ginkgo Biloba and its effectiveness on helping to treat various conditions. The Journal of the American medical association published a scientific trial which assessed how effective Ginkgo was at helping treat memory disorders including Alzheimer's disease. This 6 week trial showed that Ginkgo didn't help in any way to relieve the symptoms of this disease or any other condition, however smaller studies have shown otherwise. Ginkgo has been shown to help to reduce symptoms after six weeks.
Other studies have also shown that Ginkgo is effective in helping to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other memory disorders, as well as other conditions which involve the blood vessels.
NCCAM (National center for complementary and alternative medicine) is currently holding a clinical trial consisting of 3,000 volunteers. This trial is trying to determine whether or not Ginkgo can help to prevent the on-set of Alzheimer's disease and other conditions similar to it.
The NCCAM are also conducting trials to see whether Ginkgo can help to ease the symptoms of asthma, multiple sclerosis, vascular function, and cognitive decline. They are also looking at possible reactions between Ginkgo and prescription drugs.
The optimal dose for ginkgo biloba extract is not well studied. Most studies used single dose. However, there is some evidence suggesting that the higher dose at 240 mg per day showed more benefits than the lower dose at 120 mg per day. In fact, trials on Alzheimer's disease dementia more often used 240 mg ginkgo biloba extract daily.
There are various conditions where Ginkgo has been used to help, these are;
Arterial circulatory problems - This condition can cause blood clots and stop or restrict the blood flow to important parts of the body and organs like the heart. Ginkgo can help to stop blood clots forming and help to keep a healthy circulation system.
Cerebral atherosclerosis - This condition is when there is hardening and blockages of the arteries. Ginkgo can help to relieve these symptoms by softening the arteries and helping to unblock the blood vessels.
Cerebral edema - This condition is where the body tissue contains a high amount of fluid. This condition can affect the vessels, and Ginkgo can help to relieve this fluid tension in the blood vessels.
Cochlear deafness - This condition causes progressive deafness within younger adults, and is usually inherited. When this condition affects the blood vessels Ginkgo has been known, and suggested to help the blood vessels return to normal reliving some symptoms like tinnitus.
Glaucoma/Diminished sight - Sometimes when sight is affected by blood vessels Ginkgo can help to relieve some blindness that is suffered. Ginkgo's qualities to help blood vessels return to normal could help with particular sight problems. There are clinical studies that support a positive role of ginkgo on glaucoma. In the trials, it was observed that ginkgo increases ocular blood flow and improves visual field damage in some glaucoma patients.
Impairment to memory/ability to concentrate - Ginkgo has been noted in some clinical trials to aid memory. There has been extensive research on this factor, but many people try taking Ginkgo to try and help aid their memory. It helps to increase the blood flow to the brain which is usually the common cause for brain and memory conditions. Long term study on ginkgo's role in memory enhancement is still underway. It is not known how long one can maintain the memory benefits after stop taking ginkgo. However, most people who take ginkgo to enhance memory at 120 mg per day keep taking it for years. Younger people, like students taking ginkgo as a study aid, have not been the subject of many studies. However, there are studies showing that young adults (at 20's) achieve enhanced short term memory just several hours after taking acute doses of ginkgo extract (as high as 960 mg versus the regular 120 mg). This seems to fit in situations such as students seeking to enhance memory to face a test within days. How long ginkgo can be taken safely at such high doses is not tested, but we would not recommend to use high dose ginkgo for an extended period.
Arterial obstruction - Ginkgo helps to restore the natural blood flow in blocked arteries. It is used widely used to help treat conditions where this appears, and studies have shown positive effects that Ginkgo has had as a treatment.
Reynard's disease - This condition is when the hands and feet are exposed to the cold and can not warm back up again. This is because the blood vessels are not flowing properly to these extremities. Ginkgo can help to restore the proper blood flow which helps the hands and feet to recover from the cold, helping relieve the symptoms of Reynard's such as pins and needles and numbness.
Alzheimer's disease - This disease takes away the ability for the person to do every day things. People can lose their memory through this disease, and is a degenerative disease. Ginkgo has been used to help the symptoms of this condition, helping to aid alertness and memory.
Diabetes - There have been preliminary studies on the use of ginkgo extracts in diabetic patients. Some studies seem to support ginkgo's role in protecting from complications of diabetes. One study suggested that ginkgo may increase the insulin secretion by pancreatic cells without affecting the blood glucose level.
Vertigo - Ginkgo has also had positive effects on helping people who suffer from vertigo, by relieving the dizziness, and nausea.
High Blood Pressure - some preliminary studies suggest a beneficial effect of standardized ginkgo extract on lowering high blood pressure.
Libido (Male & Female) - There are several clinical trials supporting the role of ginkgo biloba in enhancing sexual performance in multiple aspects of sex in both men and women
Migraine - claims are often made to the benefits of ginkgo on migraine headaches, no clinical study or report specifically addresses the issue and any such benefits remain speculative at this time.
Little research has been done to examine interactions among herbs and dietary supplements although they are commonly taken together. Ginkgo itself has a good safety profile. Chances are small that adding ginkgo will cause herb interaction. However, as always, keep aware. If you feel any adverse reaction occurs, stop taking. We also appreciate reports of adverse herb/supplement reactions.
Caution should be taken in taking a blood thinner and ginkgo together because several cases of adverse effects were reported after their combined use. However, it does not mean that they can not be taken together because most people are still fine with the combination and only a few such cases were observed. Please consult your health care professional to decide the potential benefits and risk of such combination.
It is normally not recommended to take ginkgo and ibuprofen together. The reason is that ginkgo has the anti-blood clotting activity and ibuprofen may increase bleeding. Potentially they may act on top of each other to increase the chance of bleeding. However, the real evidence is rare. We would suggest to avoid taking them together for a long period. But occasional uptake of ibuprofen in addition to a regular ginkgo supplement should be ok.