Ginkgo biloba is one of those herbs that have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is available today in many other places, including the United States, where there are numerous supplements such as Brainpill offering it. In fact, it is one of the most popular natural remedies on the market. The herb is particularly known for its ability to enhance mental health. But beyond this, it offers several other benefits to the body.
Scientifically known as Salisburia adiantifolia, ginkgo biloba is an herbal extract from the leaf of the ginkgo tree. The herb, which is also referred to as maidenhair, has been used for many centuries for its medicinal properties. Its use is especially popular in China, where it has been used since ancient times.
The tree producing the herb is a long-living one. It can live for thousands of years. In China, there are some trees thought to be more than 2,500 years old. Some reliable sources noted that it is the world's oldest tree species. The ginkgo tree is regarded a living fossil. This means it has survived major extinction episodes. It has supposedly been around for up to 150 million years!
Based on the foregoing, you can easily tell that ginkgo biloba was first used for medicine in China. It was not until the 17th century before Westerners learned about it. The present name was given in 1771 and is credited to Carl Linnaeus. The tree was introduced to America towards the end of the 18th century.
The most notable of the properties in ginkgo biloba are flavonoids and terpenoids. These offer potent antioxidant properties that help deal with free radicals to prevent oxidative cell damage.
Only the extract from the leaf of the tree is commonly used for medicinal purposes. Seeds of the tree are considered potentially hazardous.
Researchers have observed that you can benefit from this herb in many ways. We discuss in this section some of the most popular functions of ginkgo biloba.
Individuals who are having anxiety and depression issues may get support from this extract. Regarded an adaptogen, ginkgo biloba helps the body to deal with stressors that lead to these problems. Evidence shows that it assists in fighting the harmful effects of elevated stress hormone levels.
The implication of this is that the herbal extract can potentially be beneficial to people having issues such as mood swings, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). In one study, researchers observed that ginkgo biloba provided greater relief to GAD patients than placebo.
You can improve blood flow to different parts of your body by taking ginkgo biloba. The U.S. National Institute of Health notes that a good number of the herb's benefits are as result of its ability to improve circulation. This means that you may be able to resolve problems linked to poor blood flow by taking it.
Research suggests that ginkgo biloba may help to control symptoms of claudication (leg pain) resulting from clogged arteries. The herb helped to alleviate symptoms of Raynaud's syndrome in patients who used it for 10 weeks in a study. It contains properties that can be useful in managing peripheral vascular disease, and may eliminate need for surgery.
The ability of this herbal extract to boost circulation appears to be mainly due to the presence of terpenoids. The most notable of these naturally occurring organic compounds in this case are ginkgolides. They cause blood vessels to dilate and help to deal with platelet stickiness.
Ginkgo biloba helps to improve cardiovascular function. Flavonoids protect your blood vessels and heart muscle from damage. They also enhance the health of nerves.
The memory enhancing ability of ginkgo biloba is arguably the most well known. This benefit is mainly as a result of how the herb promotes supply of blood to the brain. This helps to ensure the organ gets adequate nutrients and oxygen it needs to function. Both young and old will find it beneficial for this purpose. The herbal extract also helps due to its antioxidant properties and how it fights oxidative stress.
Individuals with concentration challenges are likely to find it useful. It may help with a condition known as cerebral insufficiency, a symptom of which is poor concentration. This is also a problem in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When used with other conventional treatments, research shows that ginkgo biloba helped to better improve symptoms of ADHD.
It has been found that the herb offers potential to boost emotional stability and enhance motor performance. It improves cognitive speed.
Cognitive decline is particularly of greater concern among the elderly. Older individuals often find that they do not remember things well enough. This results from dementia, the most dreaded of which is Alzheimer's disease. The ability of Ginkgo biloba to promote circulation and prevent neuronal damage makes it useful for this purpose.
The University of Maryland Medical Center noted that doctors in Europe often recommend it for treatment of dementia. A publication in the International Journal of Phytotherapy and phytopharmacology stated that it is the most widely researched and adopted herbal treatment for Alzheimer's and cognitive disorders. Experts say it can especially be useful for halting or slowing the progression of dementia arising from atherosclerotic vascular disease.
One of the ways the herb is believed to help is with regard to how it can enhance glucose uptake by brain cells. These may improve transmission of signals between nerves.
Research suggests that people who are on standard treatment for Alzheimer's and dementia may improve results by adding ginkgo biloba. A constituent known as EGb 761 has been shown in clinical trial to be helpful for treatment. It may improve cognitive and social functioning in patients with dementia. Research also shows that the EGb 761 extract boasts high degree of safety for use.
Some studies also seem to hint that ginkgo biloba may help with certain other mental disorders, including schizophrenia. It could help boost mental capacity of people with multiple sclerosis as well.
Men with erectile dysfunction and low libido challenges may get help from gingko biloba. Improved blood supply that it promotes may help to achieve harder erections. We noted previously that terpenoids can dilate blood vessels. This allows more blood to reach the penis.
It is said to be capable of improving hormonal balance. The herb can restore serotonin levels in the brain. This may enhance sexual desire. It is, in particular, more beneficial to ED cases caused by the use of antidepressants.
Eye health is another area where ginkgo biloba is thought to be useful. This is also partly because of greater blood supply the herb induces. In addition, it deals with free radicals that can damage important eye parts, such as the cornea, retina and macula. This can go a long way in preserving good eyesight well into old age.
Research hints that the herbal extract can improve vision in people with glaucoma or diabetes. Daily use of 120 mg ginkgo biloba in an 8-week clinical study led to vision improvements in people with glaucoma. Evidence also suggests it may protect you against age-related macular degeneration.
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, occur from inflammation of veins in the rectum or anus. This causes the blood vessels to swell and may come with pain and bleeding. Ginkgo biloba boasts properties that can help to address inflammation. This may reduce pain and bleeding as well.
Evidence suggests this herb may provide relief from symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). These include anxiety, muscle pain, headaches and mood swings. Ginkgo biloba may relieve these symptoms and more. It is also said to improve cognitive capacity in postmenopausal women.
People in China are known to use ginkgo biloba to relieve symptoms of asthma. Research shows that it may help in this regard due to how it enhances antioxidant activity and fights inflammation. As a result, patients are able to breathe with less difficulty. Effects on neuronal function further make it potentially of use for this condition.
Ginkgo biloba is useful for people of virtually all ages. It could help to treat headaches, fibromyalgia, intestinal worms, tinnitus and gonorrhea.
But older individuals are going to benefit more. They are more likely to see its results faster. The antioxidant properties of the herb may help to arrest free radical damage that causes a variety of age-related conditions.
Ginkgo biloba supplements such as BrainPill mostly come in tablet or capsule form. But you can also find it as liquid extracts. There is also the option of preparing tea with the dried leaves. But this latter option may need to be approached with extra caution because you have minimal control over doses.
Supplements do not have standard dose. Different doses may be suggested for a specific purpose. The appropriate amount will depend on what you intend achieving. Effects of the herb are greater when taken in higher doses.
Daily dosage typically ranges from about 40 to 600 milligrams (mg), depending on conditions. In many cases, between 120 mg and 240 mg a day is used for managing dementia, with this divided into three doses. Similar dose is also used for improving poor concentration and focus. Researchers have used up to 600 mg daily to enhance cognitive function in individuals who are healthy.
Most studies made use of ginkgo biloba extract standardized to contain 24 percent flavone glycosides and 6 percent terpene lactones.
A useful tip is to start with a low dose when using the herb for the first time. The 120mg daily dosage divided into smaller doses and taken at different times should be safe.
Like most herbal extracts, ginkgo biloba should be very safe to use. You only need to ensure you do not take doses that are too high.
Experts say the herb may produce the following side effects:
It may also lead to bleeding in some people, making it important to first discuss with your doctor if you have a bleeding disorder. You should also put this into consideration if planning for surgery or have a wound. Certain medical conditions, including epilepsy and diabetes, may make use of ginkgo biloba risky.
There can be interactions between the herb and blood thinners, such as anticoagulants. It may also interact with the following drugs and supplements, among others:
It can reduce the efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, that are commonly used for treating depression. Concurrent use with these antidepressants could lead to serotonin syndrome, which may result in fatality.
Also, it is advised that people taking the anxiety medication Xanax should not use this herb at the same time. Doing so may lessen the efficacy of the drug.
The consumption of the seeds, especially when in raw form, may lead to seizures or death.
Gingko biloba is mostly known for its ability to improve mental health and function. It also offers several other potential benefits. But people who have bleeding disorders may not use it. It is also not advised for women who are pregnant or nursing. Make sure you seek medical advice before taking it and strictly stick to suggested dosage.
Ginkgo Biloba Supplement Information From WebMD -
Ginkgo Biloba Benefits Energy, Mood & Memory - Dr. Axe (https://draxe.com/ginkgo-biloba-benefits/)
Ginkgo biloba: Health benefits, uses, and risks (www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263105.php)
Does Ginkgo Biloba Increase Circulation? (http://www.livestrong.com/article/326913-does-ginkgo-biloba-increase-circulation/)
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