Did You Know…that an extract of the oldest “living fossil” can keep your brain and memory sharp through old age?
According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, ginkgo biloba is the only survivor of a group of ancient plants that inhabited the earth 150 million years ago. That’s 150 million years of medicinal resilience that resides in those long-surviving fan-shaped leaves!
Ginkgo biloba owes its healing properties to 2 types of antioxidants—flavonoids and terpenoids. Both of these powerful types of antioxidants attack free radicals before they can destroy cells and DNA. In traditional medicine, ginkgo biloba has long been used to heal blood disorders and keep memory sharp. Now, we know its effects stem from its ability to open up the blood vessels and prevent blood from becoming too “sticky,” thereby improving blood flow to the brain.
An Ancient Memory Enhancer
Traditional Chinese herbalists work with both the ginkgo leaf and seed, but modern research concentrates mainly on a highly potent standardized ginkgo biloba extract made from dried green leaves. This extract is a popular memory enhancer in Europe, where doctors originally believed it activated memory and learning simply by boosting blood flow to the brain. According to the Mayo Clinic, increased blood flow to the brain…
Helps alleviate headache pain
Soothes depression and anxiety
Now, recent research also suggests that ginkgo biloba protects and regenerates nerve cells damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients supplementing with ginkgo biloba have an easier time with day-to-day activities and exhibit improved social behavior and decreased depression and anxiety. Other studies show that ginkgo biloba may help significantly delay the symptoms of dementia.
Inspired by a study that found that ginkgo biloba extract decreased memory loss symptoms and cognitive impairments in patients with senile dementia, researchers from Weifang Medical University in China tested the plant’s ability to activate the growth of neural stem cells. Results showed that ginkgo biloba did indeed enhance cognitive function by boosting stem cell growth. Rats given ginkgo biloba extract performed dramatically better on memory and learning tests and showed stem cell growth in certain regions of the brain.
Supplementing with Ginkgo Biloba
Supplementing with ginkgo biloba may keep your healthy brain quick and sharp and your memory intact. If you have any circulatory issues, such as leg pain caused by clogged arteries, ginkgo biloba can decrease the pain by boosting circulation. Other studies have shown it can help ease PMS symptoms such as moodiness or tender breasts.
The only source of ginkgo biloba is the ginkgo tree, and its raw seeds are dangerous. Natural health experts advise that you use only a ginkgo biloba supplement standardized to 24% flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones. Studies suggest that if you are otherwise healthy and mentally sharp, you should supplement with between 120 milligrams to 600 milligrams of the extract daily. Those already exhibiting symptoms of dementia usually take 40 milligrams three times a day. Experts stress that you should always discuss your supplement regimen with your doctor to make sure the herb doesn’t adversely interact with current medications or health problems.
Experts also point out that ginkgo supplements are generally safe but can cause headache, dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, gas, and diarrhea.