Ginkgo biloba

Also known as the Maidenhair tree. The parts of the plant used are the leaves and seeds.

Ginkgo biloba has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. It contains an antioxidant and is believed to help improve the memory and enhance concentration.

Functions of ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba:

  • improves capillary strength and circulation throughout the body. This makes it useful for the elderly who feel cold in the extremities. It also helps stop blood clotting.
  • has beneficial effects on blood circulation in the brain, thus alleviating vertigo, tinnitus, short term memory loss, headaches, depression, poor concentration and other age related disorders. It has been shown to improve neural transmission in the brain.
  • is a powerful antioxidant. This makes it useful in arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, angina, and to prevent strokes and heart attacks.
  • has been shown to improve visual acuity, hearing, balance, mood, varicose veins, ulcers and hemorrhoids.
  • reduces damage caused by radiation.
  • seeds (Bai gou) are used in Chinese medicine for asthma and chesty coughs associated with thick phlegm. They act as a tonic on the kidneys and bladder and have been used for incontinence and excessive urination.

Ginkgo's effects are due to its high bioflavonoid content, including quercetin, kempferol and proanthocyanidins.

Notes on ginkgo biloba

  • The Chinese have used the fruits and leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree for thousands of years. It has been used to treat:
    • asthma,
    • allergies and
    • coughs.
  • In the West compounds have been extracted from the ginkgo and synthesised to produce treatments for asthma and other ailments.
  • It has also been used to improve brain function and stimulate alertness.
  • Ginkgo stimulates the circulation in the brain and the ears and it may help to prevent:
    • dizziness,
    • hearing loss,
    • tinnitus,
    • stroke, and
    • also depression.
  • Studies have shown that it may also help in the treatment of impotence.

Ginkgo may be toxic in large amounts and can interact with other drugs, such as warfarin and aspirin.

As a general rule it is best to consult your health professional before taking this herb.

Dosages

  • The recommended dosage is 40 mg, three times per day.

For the gardener

Ginkgo is grown from seeds or cuttings. It tolerates most soils, but prefers full sun and is generally an easily grown tree for the larger garden. It can also be grown for many years in a large pot.

References

Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.

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