Commonly used as a remedy for various ailments, Ginkgo Biloba is a herb that is extracted from the maidenhair tree. The supplement derived from its fruits (seeds) and leaves is most notable for its detoxifying and antioxidant properties. Ginkgo Biloba ranks very highly as a form of alternative medicine in both Europe and the United States where it is also sold as a phytomedicine. Its antioxidant properties could most likely emanate from it being a neuroprotective agent.
As scientific records would have it, Ginkgo Biloba rates as one of the oldest living plant species with the tree reaching heights of up to 120 feet and having a life span of around 1,000 years. Ginkgo seeds and leaves have prominently featured in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years, but modern alternative medicine has concentrated on the now standardized GBE or Ginkgo Biloba extract of the dried green leaves. This standardized extract has the advantage of being more highly concentrated and more effective in its treatment of circulatory problems as well as other ailments.
Although the Ginkgo tree contains at least 40 compounds only two, terpenoids and flavonoids, are currently utilized for their medicinal properties. Terpenoids, or ginkgolides, prevent excessive stickiness of blood platelets, facilitate dilating blood vessels, thereby, improving blood circulation. Flavonoids are basically plant-based antioxidants. Research has shown that flavonoids have the capability to prevent damage to the retina, protect heart muscles, and offer protection to the nerves and other blood vessels.
History and Origins of Ginkgo Biloba
Commonly referred to as “living fossil tree”, the Ginkgo Biloba tree species can trace its origins as far back as the prehistoric times in the Asian continent. Hard as it is to imagine, this plant, with its characteristic yellowy seeds and fan-shaped leaves, had once been thought to have become extinct. It was after its rediscovery that proper studies on its medicinal properties begun. The discovery is credited to a German scientist around the year 1691 in Japan.
From a book published in 1911 on Chinese medicinal herbs, it is evident that the seeds have been used for a while in the treatment of irritable bladders as well as people suffering from asthma and common coughs. Around the 1970s greater interest had developed in the healing powers of Ginkgo Biloba thereby increasing research by botanists into this plant’s active ingredients.
Popular Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba to the Human Body
To date, the most notable areas of application to which Ginkgo Biloba has greatly benefited modern medicine include:
- Deafness of the Cochlear – often considered a hereditary disease, this can lead to total deafness. Ginkgo Biloba has been applied to help return the affected blood vessels to their normal condition and also prevent conditions that may lead to tinnitus
- Blockage of the arteries – there has been extensive usage of this plant’s extracts to help in the treatment of conditions whereby blood vessels have experienced obstructions in the normal blood circulation. Similarly, cases of Cerebral atherosclerosis, characterized by hardening and blockage of arteries, have been resolved upon application of Ginkgo Biloba which facilitates the softening of the same
- Blood circulation problems – Ginkgo Biloba has been known to assist greatly in the prevention of blood clots which, under certain conditions, would prevent proper blood circulation to certain organs of the body
- Dizziness or lightheadedness – sometimes referred to as vertigo, Ginkgo Biloba relieves not just the nauseating feeling associated with these symptoms but also the dizziness and feeling of giddiness
- Alzheimer’s sufferers – This degenerative disease associated with old age renders one incapable of performing common tasks. Not to mention the loss of one’s memory. Ginkgo Biloba has been known to delay the onset of this disease as well as improve one’s memory and alertness
- Cerebral edema – in relieving the fluid tension that may build up in blood vessels Ginkgo Biloba plays a major role in the prevention of oversaturation of blood tissue with fluid thus avoiding edema
Safety Concerns to Keep In Mind When Using Ginkgo Biloba
- Although Ginkgo Biloba seeds have constituent compounds that are used to attack and kill bacteria and fungi they are also known to contain toxins whose side effects may lead to unconsciousness and seizures
- There has been a reported case of poisoning from consumption of the seed, thus, it is best to consume extracts and supplement obtained from reputable sources
- The body’s mucous membrane has been known to be irritated by ingesting the Ginkgo Biloba pulp fruit extract. There also exists the possibility of allergic reactions especially to those who are commonly affected by cashew nut oil, poison ivy, mango rind and such like plant extracts
- Unfortunately not much has been done in that way of studying the effects of Ginkgo Biloba’s effects when applied on the skin
- Diabetes sufferers need to monitor their blood sugar levels closely. This is advisable since Ginkgo Biloba may cause some interference or conflict with diabetes medication and management of the disease in general
- Ginkgo Biloba seeds may be unsafe for consumption by children but one should consult a physician on specific drugs that may be consumed in combination to make the plant extract safe for children
- Those who have ever suffered from seizures may experience recurrence upon consumption of the plant extract
- Due to its ability to prevent blood clots by thinning the blood, Ginkgo Biloba supplements may lead to a heightened level of bleeding. This is especially true of the Ginkgo Biloba leaf extract which should be avoided before surgery and by those who may be vulnerable to such symptoms
- Abnormal bleeding and early labor are a possibility if Ginkgo Biloba is administered during pregnancy. Since not much is known about the use of Ginkgo Biloba while breastfeeding it is better to avoid it than suffer the consequences
Where to Get a Supply of Ginkgo Biloba
Inquire at your local pharmacist for a supply of Ginkgo Biloba supplements and extracts and be sure to read the packaging to ensure that the specified dosage is met. Whenever possible the advice of a medical doctor should be sought before starting the medication.
Ginkgo Biloba can be found in the form of tablets, dried leaves, or in the form of tea, capsules, and liquid extracts. Supervision is necessary for one to obtain the proper dosage.
Are There Any Noteworthy Scientific Developments in The Study Of Ginkgo Biloba?
Scientific research into the capabilities of Ginkgo Biloba to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease tends to indicate that it will mostly take effect after it has been consumed for a period longer than six weeks.
One of the bodies of scientists that continue to undertake research into the properties of Ginkgo Biloba is the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). By the use of volunteers, NCCAM has been trying to establish the effectiveness of Ginkgo Biloba at combating the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other memory wasting and degenerating diseases.
Studies into the treatment of Eczema and asthma have been relatively successful and research is also being conducted into the treatment of cognitive decline, multiple sclerosis, and vascular function. Research has also paid attention to the reaction of Ginkgo Biloba with other prescription drugs.