Ginkgo Biloba has been around for millions of years.
Pre-historic fossils have been found. The Chinese have
incorporated Ginkgo into the ancient arsenal of
medicines. Millions of people know it works but now
modern research gives us the reasons why it works.
The Ginkgo extract contains flavonoids and terpene lactones.
These two chemicals are responsible for its many healthful
properties, the well known anti-inflammatory performance and
powerful antioxidants that destroy disease-causing free
radicals that roam the body.
Ginkgo can dilate blood vessels, improving blood circulation
throughout the body including the brain, which is why most
people use Ginkgo to improve memory. They don't even realize
that this supplement is improving the circulation to the entire
Since Ginkgo also reduces the stickiness of blood platelets,
it is useful to prevent blood clotting.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other
Some of the most exciting current research involves Ginkgo's
impact on early-stage dementia.
Studies have shown that it increases cognitive function in
elderly people with mild to moderate age-related memory
impairment. Ginkgo Biloba improves some cognitive and social
functioning -- seeming to effect about a six-month delay in
disease progression, according to some researchers'
(Unfortunately, Dr. Stengler says that recent studies are
likely to disappoint many healthy people over age 60. The
research has shown that Ginkgo does not improve normal
age-related short-term memory lapses after people reach this
age, although it does seem to enhance memory and cognitive
functioning in younger healthy people.)
Ginkgo has been shown to improve several aspects of vision,
including early diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
Diabetic retinopathy can develop in people who have had
diabetes for many years as blood flow to the eyes becomes
impaired, resulting in blurry vision and other problems. Dr.
Stengler says that taking Ginkgo for six months can
significantly improve color vision in these patients.
For those who have glaucoma of the normal tension type,
Ginkgo seems to improve previous damage to the visual
This symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD) causes
serious leg pain when PAD patients walk because of decreased
blood flow to the legs during exercise.
Patients taking Ginkgo were able to walk considerably
further pain free than those taking a placebo, says Dr.
Stengler, though he cautions that Gingko should supplement
walking therapy exercise -- not replace it.
When women took Ginkgo starting on the sixteenth day of
their cycle and extended it five days into the next cycle, Dr.
Stengler says they reported significant relief in breast
tenderness and PMS-associated psychological symptoms.
Again, because of improvements in blood circulation, Ginkgo
helps reduce the number of attacks of
- Raynaud's syndrome,
- erectile dysfunction and
- eases high blood pressure.
- altitude sickness and
- mild depression.
Ginkgo prescription for whatever purpose is generally
consistent, from 180 mg to 240 mg daily, says Dr. Stengler.
People who weigh less than 150 pounds are often started on the
lower dosage, but if after six or eight weeks they don't show
clinical improvement, the physician may often increase the
dosage at that point.
Ginkgo is usually given continuously for a period of time.
There are several different types of Ginkgo on the market, but
the one that Dr. Stengler recommends is a product standardized
to 24% flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones. This
information will be clearly marked on the label.
Side Effect from Ginkgo Biloba
You may experience side effects from Ginkgo, on occasion.
Watch to see if any of these develop, says Dr. Stengler --
- gastrointestinal upset,
- constipation or
- allergic skin reactions.
He adds that side effects are generally mild and dosage can
be reduced somewhat to see if the side effects fade, as is
usually the case. If they do not go away, however, your
physician should discontinue the supplement.
who are taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin
(Coumadin) or aspirin for blood-thinning purposes... people who
take a thiazide-type diuretic for high blood pressure... or
people who will be having surgery may need to avoid Ginkgo.
Check with your doctor if you are taking any drugs or
supplements before taking Ginkgo.
Ginkgo continues to be the focus of much research today,
which means we may be soon finding even more new ways to use
this ancient remedy.