Ginkgo biloba Ginkgo biloba L.
Traditional Chinese Medicine The earliest know reference to ginkgo is in the Chinese Materia Medica, in apx 2,800 B.C and the seeds and root have been used in TCM for thousands of years to combat mental decline. (Ginkgo Biloba Leaf)
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba; in Chinese and Japanese 銀杏, pinyin romanization: yín xìng, Hepburn romanization: ichō or ginnan), also spelled gingko and known as the maidenhair tree, is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives. The ginkgo is a living fossil, recognisably similar to fossils dating back 270 million years. Native to China,the tree is widely cultivated and was introduced early to human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a food.
Sexual function and responsiveness are very dependent on the supply of blood to the genital organs. In particular, enhanced blood flow to the penis can do much to improve a man’s ability to attain and maintain an erection. In this respect, the herb ginkgo biloba has much to offer.
Renowned as a circulation enhancer, ginkgo biloba was found in one study to benefit 78 per cent of men with impotence. The dose used in this study was 80mg of ginkgo biloba extract, three times a day. The beneficial effects of ginkgo biloba may take three or more months to become apparent.
Ginkgo biloba may have significant benefits for women too. There is growing awareness that improved blood supply to the female sexual organs can do much to enhance sexual sensation. While this has not been studied specifically, I have seen several patients who have experienced a subjective enhancement in sexual pleasure on taking ginkgo biloba in the long term.
The ginkgo is the oldest living tree species, geological records indicate this plant has been growing on earth for 150 – 200 million years. Chinese monks are credited with keeping the tree in existence, as a sacred herb. It was first brought to Europe in the 1700’s and it is now a commonly prescribed drug in France and Germany. It is one of the most well-researched herbs in the world.
The oldest tree species in the world, dating from the time of the dinosaurs, Ginkgo biloba (bi-loba, two sided leaf) is the last remaining species of the Ginkgoales order. Fossil records show the species was once widespread in Asia and North America, and it is speculated that it was saved from extinction by monks in the far east who cultivated it secretly as a sacred tree.
Each tree can live for more than a thousand years, immune to bugs, disease and pollution. The tree grows to 100 feet tall and has fan-like leaves and yellow-green fetid smelling fruits. If you are lucky enough to have access to a mature tree, take advantage of the fresh leaves, which contain the broadest spectrum of medicinal properties. In the last 30 years, more that 300 studies have given clinical evidence that ginkgo prevents and benefits many problems throughout the entire body. Ginkgo is gaining recognition as a brain tonic that enhances memory because of its positive effects on the vascular system, especially in the cerebellum. It is also used as a treatment for vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and a variety of neurological disorders and circulation problems. Ginkgo may help to counteract the effects of aging, including mental fatigue and lack of energy.
The use of the ginkgo leaf is recent, and has been studied for its cardiovascular benefits. Today ginkgo biloba is one of the most commonly prescribed herbs and is a great example of a tonic herb – one that balances whatever is going on in your system; if you are tired it can energize you, if you are stressed it will relax you.
The bilobalides, ginkgolides, flavonoids, and other substances unique to the tree restore better blood flow to all parts of the body but particularly to the brain, allowing improved use of oxygen. Ginkgo’s antioxidant actions also stabilize the structure of brain and nerve cells and protect them from oxidative attacks from free radicals. Research indicates ginkgo action of supporting healthier circulation in the eyes, make it an herb of choice for natural treatment eye health and macular degeneration.
Ginkgo works by increasing blood flow to the brain and throughout the body’s network of blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the organ systems. It increases metabolism efficiency, regulates neurotransmitters, and boosts oxygen levels in the brain which uses 20% of the body’s oxygen.
Benefits of enhanced circulation in the brain include improved short and long term memory, increased reaction time and improved mental clarity. Ginkgo is often used to treat elderly persons with Alzheimer’s and other symptoms of cerebral insufficiency. Cerebral insufficiency is a general term for a collection of symptoms that include difficulties of concentration and memory, absentmindedness, confusion, lack of energy, depressive mood, anxiety, dizziness, tinnitus, and headache.
Ginkgo constituents are beneficial for a variety of imbalances and deterioration in the brain and body. Standardized ginkgo extract inhibits platelet activity factor (PAF), which is a common allergen in the body. Physical stress, and poor quality food can overstimulate PAF production; in other words, blood clotting. Excessive PAF can help cause cardiovascular disease, brain damage, hearing disorders and other immune and inflammatory diseases.
Ginkgo has been used to relieve tension and anxiety and improve mental alertness, elevate mood and restore energy.
Ginkgo has two groups of active substances, flavonoids and terpene lactones, including ginkgolides A, B, and C, bilobalide, quercetin, and kaempferol. The ginkgolides have been shown to control allergic inflammation, anaphylactic shock and asthma.
Ginkgo also acts as a powerful antioxidant and contributes to the oxidation of free radicals which are believed to contribute to premature aging and dementia. Antioxidants also protect the eyes, cardiovascular system and central nervous system.
Ginkgo may also help control the transformation of cholesterol to plaque associated with the hardening of arteries, and can relax constricted blood vessels.
The herb has been used in treatment of other circulation-related disorders such as diabetic peripheral vascular disease, Raynaud’s syndrome, hemorrhoids and varicose veins. It can also aid in the treatment of insufficient circulation and complications from stroke and skull injuries. Ginkgo’s beneficial effects on the circulatory system also can be of benefit in the treatment of eye and ear disorders.
Studies have confirmed that ginkgo increases blood flow to the retina, and can slow retinal deterioration resulting in an increase of visual acuity. In clinical tests ginkgo has improved hearing loss in the elderly. It also improves circulation in the extremities relieving cold hands and feet, swelling in the limbs and chronic arterial blockage. Among other things, ginkgo is being investigated as a potential treatment to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs, as a treatment for asthma and for toxic shock syndrome.
Parts Used: Dried leaf.
Common Use: Ginkgo has been shown to be nutritional support for mental alertness, enhanced vitality level, circulatory health and blood vessel health. Its high antioxidant activity is valuable for fighting age related conditions. All over the world, people have claimed Ginkgo to be beneficial in the fight against the gradual erosion of energy associated with aging.
Care: The ginkgo tree thrives in full sun and average soil. It is very resistant to infection and pollution and can grow up to 120 feet. The small yellow fruit that falls from the female tree has a strong rancid odor