What is Ginkgo biloba Extract?
Ginkgo biloba, also known as Maidenhair, has been traced back nearly 300 million years making it the oldest surviving tree species on earth! The Chinese have used the plant medicinally for eons but many of the modern applications come from the research of German scientists. Ginkgo is a prescription herb in Germany.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Ginkgo leaf extract is widely available and used to treat numerous diseases and disorders. Ginkgo leaf extract is available in capsule, tea and tablet form. The herb is also included in some skin care products.
gingko is one of best selling herbs in America. Ginkgo leaf extract is the leading prescription medication in France and Germany, where sales account for 1.5 percent and 1.2 percent of all prescription sales in those countries, respectively. Because of the potential health benefits and promising results from concluded studies, research is continuously ongoing, making ginkgo one of the most widely studied herbs worldwide.
Chemical constituents of Ginkgo biloba Extract
laboratory studies have found that an extract of ginkgo contain a number of flavonol and flavonol glycosides. The extract also contain a group of unique, closely related, bitter, 20-carbon diterpene lactone derivatives known as Ginkgolides A, B, C and M. In addition, a similar 15-carbon sesquiterpene designated bilobalide is also present together with 6-hydroxykynurenic acid, shikimic acid, protocatechuic acid, vanillic acid, and p-hydroxybenzoic acid.
Standardized extract with minimum ginkgo flavonol glycosides 24% and ginkgo terpene lactones 6% is the major product used for many clinical studies. The data from these studies showed the ginkgo extract at above concentration is effective. These studies also showed that therapeutic effects of ginkgo biloba extract are attributed to a mixture of these constituents, not to a single chemical entity.
Benefits of taking Ginkgo biloba Extract supplements:
Research into the medicinal use of ginkgo leaf extract shows the herb is effective at treating a number of disorders, including claudication (pain from clogged arteries) and dementia. Ginkgo may be as effective in treating multi-infarct dementia and early-stage Alzheimer’s as prescription medications. Substantial scientific evidence also supports the use of ginkgo for the treatment of cerebral insufficiency.
The herb is also commonly used to treat hemorrhoidal attacks, altitude sickness, asthma, chronic venous insufficiency, diabetic neuropathy, glaucoma, gastric cancer, macular degeneration, Graves’ disease, multiple sclerosis, Raynaud’s disease, premenstrual syndrome, sexual dysfunction and schizophrenia. However, more research is needed on the use of ginkgo in treating these conditions.
Recently, extensive research on the herb has been conducted on the healing properties of the leaf extract. Germany and France have run literally hundreds of studies on the leaf extract. These studies along with similar studies in America, have shown significant results. The extract of Ginkgo biloba has been studied for its effectiveness in the treatment of Acrocyanosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Cerebral atherosclerosis, Cerebral insufficiencies, Cochlear deafness, Dementia, Depression, Menopause, Peripheral and cerebral circulatory stimulation, Peripheral vascular disease, Raynaud’s syndrome, Retinopathy, Senility, Short-term memory loss, Tinnitus, Vascular Diseases, and Vertigo.
- Alzheimer’s & Mental Function
Gingko biloba has antioxidant properties that improves mental clarity. Gingko biloba extract is given to Alzheimers and dementia patients to improve memory and cognitive function.
As more than 300 studies demonstrate, ginkgo facilitates better blood flow through out the body, most notably the brain, where it both protects and promotes memory and mental function, even for people with Alzheimer’s disease. It also offers a wealth of possibilities in the treatment of many other common ailments.
Since doctors are still not sure what causes Alzheimer’s disease, we do not have a definite idea of how ginkgo works to stabilise, and in some cases, improve the quality of life for those suffering from this degenerative disease. Scientists have noted that Alzheimer’s is marked by a major loss of nerve cells in the brain, particularly those in areas controlling memory and thinking. Since doctors have found antioxidants to help slow the destruction of nerves, it is not a stretch to see ginkgo’s antioxidant properties helping in this area. The disease is also believed to have a connection to decreased blood flow to the brain. If so, ginkgo’s vasodilating effects may be a big help in the treatment process. Either way, prominent doctors and scientists believe ginkgo to be the supplement of choice to help hold off and possibly treat Alzheimer’s.
The lack of dopamine is believed to produce the progressive stiffness, shaking and loss of muscle coordination typical in Parkinson’s disease. Doctor’s theorise that along with other treatments, Ginkgo biloba may help symptoms by increasing the brain’s blood flow and there by allowing more of the depleted dopamine to be circulated to the areas that need it most.
Patients suffering from varying degrees of vascular insufficiency also noted an improvement in mood while taking ginkgo biloba extract. This has prompted a surge of interest in its use as a treatment for depression, especially in the elderly. Many people have found GBE to enhance other depression treatments and to often even prevent the need for pharmaceutical treatments in mild cases of depression. Those under the age of fifty may also benefit from ginkgo biloba’s antidepressant effects. So far though, the greatest level of improvement has been noted with older patients.
Raynaud’s disease is believed to be caused by blood vessels that over react to the cold and spasm, reducing blood flow and there by depriving extremities of oxygen. Ginkgo biloba may help this condition by widening the small blood vessels, which would keep these spasms from completely blocking the blood flow.
Scientists continue to study the prevention and treatment benefits to stroke patients that are attributed to GBE. It’s believed that by preventing blood clots from developing and increasing the blood flow to the brain, ginkgo biloba may help stop strokes from occurring. It’s also believed that the herb inhibits free-radical damage of brain cells after a stroke.
Gingko contains large amounts of flavonoids. These flavonoids can decrease the destruction of the retina caused by eye diseases such as macular degneration.
Tinnitus is a nerve disorder that causes intermittent ringing in the ears. Gingko biloba is believed to soothe these disturbed nerve endings and lessen the discomfort of this hearing disorder.
People with weak blood flow in the legs often have pain when walking. Gingko biloba can be useful for improving leg circulation thereby easing leg pain in some patients.
The disease multiple sclerosis affects coordination, strength and energy levels. Gingko biloba can
improve these functions in patients with MS.
Side effects and safety of Ginkgo biloba Extract
Most adults generally tolerate ginkgo leaf extract well when the supplement is used short-term and at recommended doses. Minor side effects that may disappear with continued use include nausea, headache and gastrointestinal upset. Taking ginkgo orally is associated with an increased risk of bleeding. Therefore, anyone suffering from a bleeding disorder, or who is taking medications or herbs known to cause bleeding, should consult a doctor before use. Other potential side effects include dizziness, muscle weakness, racing heart, restlessness, rash, loss of muscle tone and skin irritation around the mouth.
Dosage of Ginkgo biloba Extract supplement:
The suggest dosage of the standardized ginkgo biloba extract (24/6) is 120 to 160 mg per day. Ginkgo biloba extract is sold in the United States as a food supplement, usually in the form of tablets containing 40 mg of the extract. Recommended dosage is 1 tablet 3 times daily with meals or 80 mg -240mg of 50:1 standardized extract.Very few studies have been conducted on the safety or effectiveness of ginkgo leaf use in children.