The leaves and fruit of the ginkgo tree have been used as a medicinal treatment in China since 2800BC, primarily for its ability to help with brain function and blood circulation.
The ginkgo tree is famous for its longevity — some of them have lived to be over 1,000 years old! These monuments of nature are the oldest living species of tree on earth, dating back about 270 million years!
The ginkgo tree is indigenous to China, Japan, and Korea, but also thrived in North America and Europe prior to the Ice Age. Several of these incredibly hardy trees even survived the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima.
Improves Circulation. Ginkgo contain phytochemicals that thin blood and help to improve muscle tone in the walls of blood vessels. This enhances blood flow throughout the body, but especially in the smallest blood vessels, the capillaries. This benefit is particularly significant for the eyes, ears and parts of the brain that have many small blood vessels.
Ginkgo also assures the health of the endothelium, the layer of cells that form the lining of the heart and blood vessels. Ginkgo helps keep this surface smooth, which assists in the flow of blood through the blood vessel and prevents dangerous plaque from forming.
Poor circulation is a major cause of a host of problems including poor vision, hearing problems, vertigo, dizziness, ringing in the ears and cardiovascular disease. One of the benefits of ginkgo biloba is providing relief from these conditions, due to a combination of its antioxidant, anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties.
Improves Brain Function. Ginkgo is an important supplement for the improvement of brain function. Because it increases circulation and the oxygen supply to the the brain, it is often recommended for increasing mental sharpness, concentration, and memory.
Possible Protection Against Alzheimer's. Numerous studies has shown that treating with ginkgo can slow the deterioration of memory and thinking ability in people with Altzheimer's disease. Some researchers think that this flavonoid complex can actually reverse free radical damage to brain cell membranes. Ginkgo also neutralizes a free radical called nitric oxide, which controls communication among your brain cells.
Are you taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks? Ginkgo supplements have about the same anti-coagulating effect as aspirin, which is often recommended by doctors as a preventive measure against heart attacks.
Hazards of Aspirin. The use of aspirin on a daily basis may cause stomach irritation that leads to bleeding, and possible kidney problems. Daily aspirin also has been connected to an increase in the number of brain hemorrhages.
Ginkgo, as well as garlic, vitamin E and coenzyme Q-10, offers a safer alternative. All of these natural supplements have been shown to prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, the primary cause of atherosclerosis. They also reduce your risk of stroke by making your blood platelets less sticky and therefore less likely to clot. These are what you should be taking for heart health, not aspirin or statin drugs.
Go to the page on What Causes Heart Disease?
to get the full story about cholesterol and heart disease.
Go to the page on Heart Attack Prevention
to learn about antioxidants that help prevent heart disease.
Ginkgo is a key component in maintaining the health of the retinas in your eyes. This herb increases blood flow in the capillary network and repairs oxidative stress damage to the capillary walls and retina. Ginkgo is a valuable part of a preventive program for cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, along with bilberry, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Ginkgo also has some impressive anticancer effects. Aside from preventing damage to DNA in your cells from oxidation, it also inhibits the growth of blood cells that feed tumors. Ginkgo also appears to have some antioxidant properties that regulate gene behavior that can lead to cancer cell growth.
More information on ginkgo biloba than you're ever probably going to need can be found at: My Ginkgo Biloba
The therapeutic effects of Ginkgo are not credited to a single element; rather, the benefits are due to a mix of various chemicals in ginkgo that work together. A standardized extract of ginkgo must be taken consistently for a period of at least 12 weeks before beneficial results are evident.
Look for standardized ginkgo supplements that contain 24 percent flavone glycosides and 6 percent terpene lactones (the active flavonoids in ginkgo).
Dosages. A lot of people take anywhere from 40 to 120mg. of ginkgo daily as a preventive measure to keep their mental function high and improve short-term memory and overall alertness. Somewhat higher doses are acceptable if you are treating particular health problems. If you are on any type of blood-thinning drug or taking aspirin daily, talk to your doctor first. Better yet, find an alternative physician who understands how to heal patients without resorting to drugs.
Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects and Safety Concerns. Ginkgo may affect blood clotting, so it shouldn't be used by people with bleeding disorders. People with epilepsy (or anyone with a history of seizures) should avoid it, because it may increase the frequency of seizures. Ginkgo may affect blood sugar levels, so people with diabetes should only be used under the supervision of a health care provider.
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