Overview – Similarly named to South America’s famed Balboa, the first European to
reach the Pacific Ocean by a Western land crossing, it’s a plant of a different species. In
fact, Ginkgo biloba has no close plant relatives and is the only species in its Division,
Ginkgphyta, the next classification level under the Plant Kingdom. Thus, its unique
benefits cannot be gotten elsewhere. It has been a part of Chinese natural medicine for
more than two thousand years, cultivated by monks and herbal enthusiasts alike, and has
been shown to treat and prevent a number of ailments.
What it Can Treat – Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cognitive Function, Attention
Disorders, Hypertension, Blood Circulation Disorders, Intermittent Claudication,
Tinnitus, Multiple Sclerosis, Fatigue, Vitiligo, Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, Poor
Coordination, Slow Metabolism, Sexual Infertility, Acute Pancreatitis
Treatment and How it Works– Ginkgo Biloba Extract is made from the tree’s dried
leaves. In them are contained two primary active substances: flavonoids and terpenoids.
Flavonoids “protect the nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels, and retina from damage”
(University of Maryland). Also, thanks to the flavonoids in Ginkgo biloba, the nerves
damaged from Alzheimer’s Disease, or nerves that otherwise may have been damaged,
are protected. A number of studies support these claims. One concluded that Ginkgo
Biloba Extract “was found to be effective for cognitive functions in dementia with the
treatment of 6 months” (Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine).
Terpenoids are antioxidants which fight free radicals and prevents and repairs cell
damage, DNA alteration, apoptosis, and premature aging. Included in this group are
Ginkgolides which have anti-inflammatory properties as well as can treat asthma. As an
added bonus, they also give the leaves their aroma.
Ginkgo biloba dilates blood vessels for increased circulation and makes blood platelets
less sticky. Thus, more blood can reach the brain and this leads to improved cognitive
function. This is also linked to the prevention of certain skin conditions like psoriasis.
The effects of increased blood circulation do not only affect the brain, but also the limbs.
Those with Intermittent Claudication, which can lead to numbness in the legs or even
extreme pain due to lack of blood flow can see great improvements in their condition,
especially combined with mild daily exercise. It also improves Glaucoma, frequently
associated with excessive pressure in the eye. Though it is not entirely a cure in itself for
Macular Degeneration, it does reduce high blood pressure which causes many retinal
ailments, and stops the progression of this disease. In addition, it can mitigate the effect
of Tinnitus in the ears
Ginkgo biloba extract can also be used to treat depression. One Swedish study found that
rats dosed with GbE over two weeks, experienced “significantly increased extracellular
dopamine and noradrenalin levels” (Karolinska Institute). Dopamine not only plays a role
in depression, a remedy for addiction withdrawal symptoms, and cognitive function.
Dosage – 60-120 mg a day is adequate for most ailments. This usually translates to one
Toxicity – Those who are taking anticoagulants should avoid taking Ginkgo Biloba as
this can cause internal bleeding. Do not take Ginkgo biloba if you are taking
antidepressants, diabetes medication, or diuretics. You also should not take it in the days
prior to surgery, if you are pregnant or nursing, or suffer from epilepsy.
Those who are severely allergic to poison ivy or mangoes should not take Ginkgo Biloba
as you are likely to also be allergic to it.