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Ginkgo Biloba has been used in different purposes for thousands of years and the fact is that -today, it is one of the top selling herbs in the United States and all around the world!
Most people already know that Ginkgo is used for the treatment of numerous conditions, many which are under scientific investigation. Although people are a big skeptic- available evidence demonstrates ginkgo's efficacy in the management of intermittent claudication, Alzheimer's dementia, and cerebral insufficiency and decreased physical performance, fatigue, headache, dizziness, depression, and anxiety. Several researches have proven that use of ginkgo could be extremely beneficial for memory enhancement in healthy subjects, altitude sickness, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and reduction of chemotherapy-induced end-organ vascular damage. Ginkgo supplements are usually taken in the range of 40–200 mg per day.

 Characteristics of the Ginkgo plant

Ginkgo Biloba is the oldest living tree species. A single tree can live as long as 1,000 years and grow to a height of 120 feet.
  • Ginkgo leaves
Several researches done in the past have shown that Ginkgo leaves contain two types of chemicals -flavonoids and terpenoids. Most experts believe that these chemicals have potent antioxidant properties. What exactly are antioxidants? Well, antioxidants are substances that scavenge free radicals. Free radicals are damaging chemicals in the body that alter cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but environmental toxins can also increase the number of these damaging particles. They are believed to contribute to a number of health problems including heart disease and cancer as well as Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. That’s why- antioxidants such as those found in ginkgo can neutralize free radicals.  
  • Ginkgo stem
Ginkgo branches grow in length by growth of shoots with regularly spaced leaves, as seen on most trees. From the axils of these leaves, little spur shoots develop which have very short internodes and their leaves are ordinarily unlobed. Because of the short internodes, leaves appear to be clustered at the tips of short shoots, and reproductive structures are formed only on them.

Beneficial effects of Ginkgo Biloba

Based on studies conducted in laboratories, animals, and humans, professional herbalists and other experts may recommend ginkgo for the following health problems:

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Although not too many people know about this- the fact is that Ginkgo is widely used in Europe for treating dementia. Several researches have proven that Ginkgo improves blood flow in the brain and because of its antioxidant properties. Although many of the clinical trials have been scientifically insufficient, the evidence that ginkgo may improve thinking, learning, and memory in people with Alzheimer's disease has been highly promising.
Clinical studies suggest that ginkgo provides several benefits for people with AD such as improvement in:
  • thinking, learning, and memory
  • activities of daily living
  • social behavior
  • reliving symptoms of depression

Eye problems

It is no secret that those chemicals- flavonoids found in ginkgo may help lessen some eye problems. Every patient should know that retinal damage has a number of potential causes, including diabetes and macular degeneration. Important thing is that this condition is a progressive, degenerative eye disease that tends to affect older adults and is the number one cause of blindness in the United States.

Intermittent Claudication

Because the fact is that ginkgo really improves blood flow, this herb has been studied in people with intermittent claudication – a special kind of pain caused by inadequate blood flow to the legs. Although many haven’t even heard about it- the fact is that people with intermittent claudication have difficulty walking without suffering extreme pain. Regular walking exercises along with Gingko are more then beneficial in improving walking distance.

Memory Impairment

Well, almost everyone knows that Ginkgo is widely added to nutrition bars and fruit smoothies to boost memory and enhance cognitive performance. It is even called “the brain herb”! Researchers concluded that ginkgo was highly effective in enhancing memory and cognitive function.

Tinnitus 

Not too many people know what exactly tinnitus is? It is the perception of ringing, hissing, or other sound in the ears or head when no external sound is present. Although there are different possible causes- most commons are nerve damage and certain blood vessel. But, even today- the therapeutic value of ginkgo for tinnitus remains uncertain because in general, tinnitus is a very difficult problem to treat.  

Gastric cancer

Ginkgo Biloba polysaccharides capsule preparation has been studied for upper digestive tract malignant tumors of middle and late stage with positive results. However, nothing is still scientifically proven!

Multiple sclerosis

Based on laboratory study, it has been suggested that ginkgo may provide benefit in multiple sclerosis (MS). Human research is limited to several small studies, which have not found consistent benefit. Additional research is needed before a recommendation can be made.  

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Initial study in women with premenstrual syndrome or breast discomfort suggests that ginkgo may relieve symptoms including emotional upset. Further well-designed research is needed before a recommendation can be made.

Pulmonary interstitial fibrosis

Based on early study, ginkgo may be effective in treating pulmonary interstitial fibrosis. Only problem is that nothing of this is proven and further research is needed to confirm these results.

Quality of life

Two studies have suggested that ginkgo may aid in quality of life. More randomized controlled trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.

Raynaud's disease

Results from one clinical trial suggest that Ginkgo Biloba may be effective in reducing the number of Raynaud's attacks in patients suffering from Raynaud's disease. In order to confirm these results, further clinical trials are required.

Sexual dysfunction

Most people already know that Ginkgo has been used and studied for the treatment of sexual dysfunction in men and women. Several researches have confirmed that Ginkgo may be effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, based on human and animal studies that show blood vessel relaxant properties, which may improve blood flow in the penis to achieve an erection.

Other

In addition to these health problems, professional herbalists may also recommend ginkgo for a variety of other ailments including:
·         altitude sickness
·         asthma
·         depression
·         disorientation
·         headaches
·         high blood pressure
·         erectile dysfunction
·         vertigo

Precautions

Although most herbalist and even some doctors are saying that the use of herbs is a very good thing for strengthening the body and treating disease but herbs, also contain active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications.  Every patient or person that’s planning to use this herb should know that, because gingko decreases platelet aggregation, there is some concern that it may increase risk of intracranial (brain) hemorrhage.   What of this is really true- one thing is sure- pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using ginkgo preparations. Ginkgo side effects and cautions include possible increased risk of:
·         bleeding
·         gastrointestinal discomfort
·         nausea
·         vomiting
·         diarrhea
·         headaches
·         dizziness
·         restlessness

Possible interactions with other medications

  • Anticonvulsant medications
Several researches done in the past have proven that high doses of Ginkgo Biloba could decrease the effectiveness of anticonvulsant therapy in patients taking Carbamazepine or valproic acid to control seizures. That’s why- it should be avoided!
  • Blood-thinning medications
Ginkgo has blood-thinning properties and therefore should not be used if you are taking anticoagulant medications, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, dipyridamole, heparin, ticlopidine, or warfarin.
  • Cyclosporine
It is also proven that Ginkgo Biloba may be beneficial during treatment with cyclosporine. This is because of its ability to protect cell membranes from damage.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Ginkgo may enhance the effects of antidepressant medications known as MAOIs, such as phenelzine and tranylcypromine. This could be both good and bad because there could be several side effects!
  • Papaverine
It is proven that the combination of Papaverine and ginkgo may be effective for the treatment of erectile dysfunction in patients who do not respond to Papaverine alone.
  • Thiazide diuretics
Some researches have reported an increased blood pressure associated with the use of ginkgo during treatment with thiazide diuretics.
  • Trazodone
Additionally, there has been a report of an adverse interaction between ginkgo and Trazodone, an antidepressant medication, that resulted in an elderly patient going into a coma.
 
 
Update:
 

Ginkgo Biloba Found Ineffective Against Dementia