A Boost for Your Aging Brain: Ginkgo Biloba
The Chinese Herb for the Brain
Perhaps the most remarkable nutrient for potentially improving memory and warding off senility is the Chinese herb Ginkgo biloba, derived from one of the most ancient trees known to mankind. The single Ginkgo tree can live for 1,000 years. Research shows that the leaves of this tree, taken in supplement form, provide remarkable pharmacological action to the circulatory and nervous systems.
Ginkgo biloba may be the most effective remedy available for short-term memory loss, slow thinking and reasoning, dizziness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and problems with vertigo and equilibrium. It is also being used to treat all types of dementia, cognitive disorders related to depression, absent-mindedness, confusion, lack of energy, Alzheimer's disease and senility. Ginkgo is the most widely used prescription medicine in Europe. More than ten million prescriptions are written each year for a variety of conditions, especially those related to the circulatory system.
Ginkgo specifically enhances circulation to the small blood vessels that are the farthest from the heart, and to arteries, veins and capillaries. Ginkgo actually stimulates the release of a substance that relaxes the microcapillaries, thus increasing blood flow. It also reduces leg pain from low blood flow to the limbs and is important for male impotence.
A small double-blind study showed that ginkgo produced a significant improvement in long-distance vision for patients with macular degeneration, which is a frequent cause of blindness in the aged. It inhibits deteriorating vision due to oxygen deprivation to the retina.
Ginkgo affects mental alertness by changing the frequency of brain waves. Research has shown that ginkgo increases brain alpha rhythms, which are the brain wave frequencies associated with mental alertness. Increased mental alertness among volunteer subjects was evident after only three weeks of ginkgo therapy, and alertness continued to increase during the remaining three months of the study.
Deterioration of Cognitive Function. Ginkgo seems to be particularly beneficial for those people who are just beginning to experience deterioration of cognitive function. A German researcher, Dr. E.W. Fungfeld, and his colleagues have concluded that Ginkgo biloba extract has promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's, as it appears to delay mental deterioration during the early stages of the disease. In fact, they contend that ginkgo may be able to reverse some of the disabilities associated with the disease and help the patient to maintain a normal life without hospitalization.
Many studies using ginkgo have found that the leaves of the plant produce unique substances called flavone glycosides, which are powerful antioxidants. Scientific research regarding the therapeutic uses of the ginkgo extract are in full swing. A great deal of research has already been done in Europe, especially in France and Germany, to find more applications for ginkgo biloba in treating diseases that occur more frequently as we age.
Combats Symptoms of Aging. There are very few substances that combat the symptoms and signs of aging as well as this herb. Ginkgo biloba extract appears to fulfill all conditions laid down by the World Health Organization concerning the development of drugs effective against cerebral aging.
Several Forms of Ginkgo are Available:
- Powdered leaves in capsules or tablets
- Liquid extracts, also called tinctures
- Powdered extracts (usually 6:1 or 8:1, which are unstandardized)
- Standardized extracts, 24 percent flavone glycosides
It is important to note that only the highly concentrated extract form of ginkgo has been used in research studies: one kilo of extract being produced from 50 kilos of leaves (50:1). If you desire to purchase ginkgo biloba, find an extract which is standardized with 24 percent flavonoid glycosides, which is the active ingredient. Other less concentrated extracts are also available, but these have a much weaker action than that which has been tested conclusively. Most authorities recommend a dosage of 180 mg a day, which is 60 mg three times a day, or follow product label instructions.
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- Gebner, A., et al. "Study of the Long-term Action of a Ginkgo Biloba Extract on Vigilance and Mental Performance as Determined by Means of Quantitative Pharmaco-EEG and Psychometric Measurements." Arzeneimittel-Forschung 35.9: 1459.
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- Schuitemaker, Dr. G. E. "Ginkgo Against Senility." Dutch and German magazine Orthomolecular (1988). A publication of the European Institute for Orthomolecular Science.
- "Intermittent Claudication: Trental vs. Ginkgo biloba extract." American Journal of Natural Medicine 2.1 (January/February 1995): 10–13.
- Hobbs, Christopher. Ginkgo: Elixir of Youth. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995, page 57.
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