Ginkgo Biloba: A Powerful Herb
04/02/2012 | 01:45 PM
Ginkgo Biloba: Introduction
Ginkgo Biloba is an effective treatment for many kinds of diseases and among its users, it is revered as a “magical herb” for its many healing properties. Ginkgo Biloba has been used by the Chinese since ancient times, and the herb is said to be beneficial to mental health, blood circulation and muscle strength.
Growing research on the herb has lead to increased scientific understanding of the herb’s medicinal properties, and growing awareness of how its daily consumption can be a universal aid to good health.
Ginkgo Biloba: Science
The leaves of the Ginkgo tree are known to be rich in flavonoid glycosides and two types of terpenoid — ginkglolides and bilobalides. Flavonoids, often found in citrus fruits, are known to be good an anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogen, but they are also abundant in the Ginkgo’s leaves.
Ginkglolides have been used as a successful treatment for reducing the frequency of migraine attacks, while studies have found that bilobalides prevent apoptosis, or the self-destruction of cells. Also, bilobalides induce the production of 1A2 and CYP3A1 liver enzymes, which are responsible for enhancing the effects of other herbal medicines and pharmaceutical drugs. Additionally, bilobalides have a neuroprotective effect on the body, and can be readily extracted from the Ginkgo Leaves and roots.
Ginkgo Biloba: Orgins and History
Ginkgo Biloba is taken from the Ginkgo tree, an ancient species, with fossil records dating back 270 million years to the Permian era, that has no known close relative. Ginkgo trees, which can grow to a height of fifty meters, are extremely resistant to disease and insect infestation, allowing them to live for extended periods. Some Ginkgo trees are reported to be around 2,500 years old.
The leaves of the Ginkgo Biloba are used as herbs and to produce the extracts that are sold in pharmacies and other stores. They resemble a fan, with the veins radiating outward to support the blades, and although they sometimes split, they never form into a network. The leaves are deciduous and they generally between two and four inches long, although some can grow as long as six inches. Eating fresh ginkgo seeds is potentially deadly, due to the risk of seizures and loss of consciousness.
Ginkgo Biloba: Remedies
The Ginkgo Biloba tree provides numerous health benefits. Taking Ginkgo Biloba supplements daily will help with the following:
- Memory Enhancement – As Ginkgo Biloba increases brain blood flow, some say it has nootropic properties. The scientific data is mixed: some have shown no effect, while others have shown how it can improve memory and concentration. According to one study, patients who took Ginkgo Biloba extracts felt more attentive peaking at 2.5 hours after taking the medicinal herb.
- Glaucoma and other eye problems –Ginkgo Biloba helps to increase blood circulation – both peripheral and central blood flow. As glaucoma is mainly caused by elevated intraocular pressure, studies have shown that improved circulation can help prevent or ease the condition.
- Poor Circulation or leg pain – Poor circulation can cause leg pain or nerve damage, especially in older people or diabetics. Since Ginkgo Biloba helps to improve blood circulation, it can thus help to relieve leg pain and prevent nerve damage by supplying sufficient blood to the legs.
- Tinnitus – Some patients have found that Ginkgo Biloba eases ringing in the ears (tinnitus). While the scientific data is inconclusive, it has been used to treat the condition for hundreds of years.
Ginkgo Biloba: The Benefits
Ginkgo Biloba is a well-known circulation booster, increasing blood flow to the brain and body. It is widely used to help mental clarity, tinnitus, glaucoma and other conditions.
- Blood circulation to the brain - The leaves of the Ginkgo Biloba are known to enhance blood circulation to the brain. Therefore, taking regular supplements of Ginkgo Biloba may help in memory retention.
- Varicose veins, hemorrhoids and leg ulcers - The leaves of the Ginkgo Biloba are also known to be a good remedy and treatment for varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and leg ulcers – the various active reagents found in the leaves of the Ginkgo Biloba boost peripheral blood flow.
- Asthma - Ginkgo Biloba extract can be a complementary remedy for people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems, although it cannot replace the efficacy and effectiveness of prescribed inhalers.
- Urinary tract-related problems - Ginkgo Biloba extract can also help in treating some urinary problems, such as excessive or inconsistent urination. The extract can have a toning and calming effect on the body’s urinary system.
Ginkgo Biloba: Side effects
- Anti-coagulant - Ginkgo Biloba extract is good for blood circulation. However, if you are already taking blood-thinners, talk to your doctor before taking Ginkgo Biloba as it’s an anti-coagulant (anti-clotting) agent. If you will be undergoing surgery or a dental procedure in the near future, refrain from Ginkgo Biloba to avoid excessive bleeding or other complications. Reports of bleeding after the herb range from nose bleeds to severe bleeding in some cases.
- Allergic Reaction – Like any herb, some can have an allergic reaction, and there are isolated reports of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, seizures, breathing problems, irregular heartbeats and skin rashes. If you experience any of these symptoms, discontinue the use of Ginkgo Biloba immediately.
- Drug Interactions - Ask your doctor if your prescribed medication could interact with Ginkgo Biloba. Ginkgo Biloba can interact with blood thinners, anticonvulsant medications such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), antidepressants including SSRIs, hypertensive medications such as nifedipine (Procardia), diabetic medications, and certain immune suppressive drugs. Talk to your doctor about Ginkgo Biloba if you are taking any prescription drugs.
- Avoid if pregnant- Pregnant or breast-feeding women should not take Ginkgo Biloba because it can cause internal or excessive bleeding. There is insufficient evidence to determine how it might affect the health of a fetus.
Ginkgo Biloba: Conclusion
Ginkgo Biloba is a powerful herb that boosts blood circulation, both peripheral and central blood flow. One of the oldest types of plant, it has been used as a traditional medicine for thousands of years. Ginkgo Biloba can be used for a range of illnesses and conditions, including glaucoma, circulation problems, varicose veins, and mental clarity. However you should consult with your doctor or naturopathic doctor about using a Ginkgo supplement for these conditions, especially if taking any prescription medicines.