Ginkgo biloba is an anti-toxicant that increases oxygenation and blood circulation by thinning the blood. It reportedly improves memory, delays progression of early Alzheimer’s disease, lessens the effects of aging and helps poor circulation and impotence.
Ginkgo is oldest tree species (a form of the ginkgo first emerged about 300 million years ago). It once thrived along the Pacific rim but died out in the Ice Age everywhere but China. The gingko tree has lovely fan-shaped leaves that turn bright yellow in autumn and stay that way to early winter. Ginkgo biloba is sacred to Buddhist and a familiar sight at temples in Japan and China. The tree now grows throughout Europe and North America.
Ginkgo-based drug are widely used in Asia. Dried leaf extract made from gingko biloba is sold in tablets and capsules as a treatment for age-related memory loss. Americans spend more than $240 million a year for remedies made with ginko. Studies have shown that gingko has little effect on the memory and mental abilities on normal, healthy people but does help slow the rate of mental decay in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginko biloba is being subjected to a careful study that involves 3,000 patients over the age 75 in four states in the United States to see if it slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The study will be completed in 2010. Among the things revealed so far is that 75 percent of gingko bilboa medicines sampled had minimal amounts of the active ingredient.
Ginkgo may offer some help minimizing brain damage caused by a stroke in animals. Mice given daily doses of gingko biloba extract before having a laboratory-induced stroke suffered only about half the damage of animals who were not given it according to research at Johns Hopkins University. Mice give ginkgo extract immediately after a stroke also suffered less brain damage. This was significant in that generally little can be done to help stroke victims after they have suffered a stroke.
Gingko raises levels of heme oxygenase-1, or HO-1, which is an enzyme that acts as an antioxidant to protect against cell damage caused by “free radicals”—toxic oxygen molecules released by cells under stress.
Ginkgo biloba is a popular supplement and one of the top-selling herbal medicines. Ginkgo biloba extract is collected from the dried green leaves of the plant and is available as liquid extracts, capsules, and tablets. People use it for a variety of reasons.
The therapeutic properties of the ginkgo plant are said to include treatment for blood disorders and memory problems, enhancement of cardiovascular function and to improve eye health.
Gingko contains high levels of flavonoids and terpenoids, antioxidants that provide protection against oxidative cell damage from harmful free radicals. In this way, antioxidants are believed to help reduce the risk of cancer.
Also known as the maidenhair tree, ginkgo is one of the oldest species of tree in the world. The trees can grow more than 130 feet tall and can live for over 1,000 years. Some trees in China are said to be over 2,500 years old.
The tree is considered to be a “living fossil”, meaning that it has continued to survive even after major extinction events.1
The extract can be taken as a supplement, and the dried leaves of the plant can be used to make tea.