Many know Ginkgo biloba as a panacea for all kinds of memory or focus problems. In fact, many practitioners of alternative health argue that it is one of the very best cognitive enhancers among many popular nootropic substances.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ginkgo Biloba represents longevity and vitality and has had a presence in TCM for over 5,000 years.
Traditionally you can use Ginkgo leaves to improve blood flow and to treat memory loss and dementia.
You should never consume raw Ginkgo biloba seeds as they are toxic. However, I have been taught that when processed correctly they can be used to relax your breath, ease asthma and bronchitis.
Let’s continue reading to learn a little more about this special tree and it’s many health benefits.
- 1 The Ginkgo Tree
- 2 Benefits of Ginkgo Leaf Extract
- 3 The Science: Ginkgolides and Bilobalides
- 4 Ginkgo Seed Benefits
- 5 Side Effects of Ginkgo Biloba
The Ginkgo Tree
Ginkgo biloba or the fossil tree has many regional names in China and Japan such as Japanese Silver Apricot, Kew tree, Maidenhair tree, Yen Xing and Yinhsing.
It is said to be a tree with the longest of lifespans that you can see grow to heights of 20-50 meters. They have roots that reach deep into the earth to resist damage from wind and snow. The color of a Ginkgo tree varies from yellow to yellowish orange or green. Starting in their youth Ginkgo Biloba trees are tall and slender, only growing stronger with age.
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Ginkgo Biloba is a dioecious plant (has both male and female species) and requires both a Male and female plants for reproduction. Male ginkgo parts bear small pollen cones while the female ginkgo produces a vomit-like smell. Undeveloped female ginkgos grows slender shoots along with new leaves and produce pods or nuts that have a fruit-like appearance, but are in fact seeds.
Benefits of Ginkgo Leaf Extract
Best Cognitive Enhancer
Ginkgo biloba has become popular as an herbal remedy for it’s effects on memory, memory loss, concentration and headaches. Making it your go-to choice for any mental ailment you might have. The scientific community is giving it more and more attention and some studies have researched its acute nootropic effect in healthy older humans. An extract of Gingko leaves called EGb 761 is a powerful brain-booster and antioxidant and is comprised of standardized flavone glycosides (flavonoids) and terpenes (ginkgolides and bilobalides). More reading on ginkgo as a nootropic can be found here.
It has been effectively used to treat vertigo, difficulty hearing and hearing disorders.
Studies have shown that Ginkgo can increase your blood circulation. By extension it helps your brain, eyes, ears, and legs to function better. Because of this it has been used to treat problems related to poor blood flow like ‘Raynaud’s Syndrome.
Anti-Histamine and Anti-Inflammatory
Studies show that ginkgo leaf extract has Flavonoid Glycosides such as Myricetin (anti-oxidant) and Quercetin (an effective bronchodilator and helps reducing histamine and other allergic or inflammatory chemicals of the body).
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They are the reason Ginkgo improves mental processing speed and skills and is used for thinking disorders related to ‘Lyme disease’, depression and to treat symptoms of PMS, naturally stabilizing your mood.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Research by German scientist resulted in most of the modern applications of ginkgo biloba. They have found strong evidence that shows effectiveness when treating Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia for elderly persons.
It also treats glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and sexual performance.
The Science: Ginkgolides and Bilobalides
Ginkgolides and Bilobalides are found present in Ginkgo leaf extract and are thought to be the source of most of it’s benefits.
Ginkgolides have the an ability to act as PAF receptor your body and can help treat cardiovascular disease.
Bilobalides have neuroprotective effects and can trigger the production of liver enzymes.
Ginkgo Seed Benefits
Ginkgo seeds have their own place in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
TCM practitioners often prescribe Ginkgo biloba seeds as a lung tonic. They contain substances that could kill bacteria and fungi that cause infection in the body and lungs. Often used for coughs, asthma and bronchitis.
Ginkgo biloba seeds are used for digestive disorders, scabies, and skin sores.
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Side Effects of Ginkgo Biloba
Raw ginkgo biloba seeds are unsafe when taken orally. They can cause stomach upset, dizziness, constipation, and seizure when taken in large quantities.
People that are allergic to urushiol should not take Ginkgo. Urushiol is an oily organic allergen found in poison ivy, mango rind, poison sumac, poison oak, cashews.
Allergies to urushiol can cause a severe reaction called Stevens-Johnson syndrome that includes skin blistering and sloughing-off.
Ginkgo Biloba increases the risk of bleeding.
Not enough is known about its effect on pregnant or breastfeeding women to make it safe for their use.