The remarkable effects of ginkgo biloba on brain function and circulation have made this venerable tree one of the most extensively studied and widely used botanicals in the world. Millions of Americans and Europeans now enjoy the benefits of ginkgo for memory, cognitive function, circulatory disorders, and conditions of the eyes and ears. No other known circulation enhancer, natural or synthetic, can increase blood flow not only to healthy areas of the brain, but also to areas already damaged by disease. In addition, ginkgo's powerful antioxidant effects have earned it an international reputation as an "anti-aging" herb among young and old alike.
Gingko Biloba has been used in TCM to improve the heart and lungs function, to relieve coughs, asthma, and allergic inflammations. Scientists think this function, along with a potential ability to dilate blood vessels, accounts for its record of use in treating asthma in China for thousands of years. Ginkgo biloba leaves extract has been shown to dilate blood vessels, and improve cognitive function. Ginkgo has been extensively researched for its possible benefits to the elderly. Studies indicate ginkgo has the ability to increase circulation which can lead to enhanced memory.Ginkgo is a powerful antioxidant and contributes to the oxidation of free radicals which are believed to contribute to premature aging. Antioxidants also protect the eyes, cardiovascular system and central nervous system. It may also help control the transformation of cholesterol to plaque associated with the hardening of arteries.
Gingko biloba's beneficial affect on improving blood circulation may have positive benefits for sexual dysfunction. In one open clinical trial involving 60 patients having erectile dysfunction, 50% of the patients regained potency after six months of treatment with Ginkgo Biloba. Ginkgo is slow acting, taking four to eight weeks before benefits may be noticed. Improvements are gradual, but continue for up to a year or more.
Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba:
(1) Improves memory and other cognitive functions (2) Enhances circulation to the brain, heart, limbs, ears and eyes (3) May help reduce cardiovascular risks (4) Potent antioxidant effects (5) Used in treating cerebral insufficiency, senile dementia, Alzheimer's disease (6) Peripheral arterial disease and certain eye and ear disorders
Ginkgo and Cerebral Brain Disorder Research
In a multicenter, double-blind, Ginkgo versus placebo trial involving 166 patients, Ginkgo biloba extract is found to be effective against cerebral disorders due to aging 3 months after treatment and continued to increase during the following months. Taillandier J, Ammar A, Rabourdin JP, Ribeyre JP, Pichon J, Niddam S, Pierart H.Presse Med. 1986 Sep 25;15(31):1583-7. French.
Ginkgo Improve Cognitive Function
Ginkgo biloba extract has been reputed to ameliorate cognitive decline in the elderly and slow cognitive deterioration in patients with dementia of the Alzheimer's type. Ginkgo remains as one of the most popular plant extracts to alleviate symptoms associated with a range of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and age-related amnesic conditions. Ginkgo is known to contain a range of chemically active components that have antagonistic effects on platelet-activating factor, free-radical scavenging activity (antioxidant) and direct effects on the cholinergic neurotransmitter system. In a 30-day randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial in which 61 participants were administered with various neuropsychological tests before and after treatment. Statistical analysis indicated significant improvements in speed of information processing working memory and executive processing attributable to the Ginkgo Biloba Extract. Stough C, Clarke J, Lloyd J, Nathan PJ.Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2001 Jun;4(2):131-4.
Ginkgo Reduces oxidative free radicals in Alzheimer's disease
The role of amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta) in the free-radical oxidative-stress model of neurotoxicity in Alzheimer's disease (AD) has received much attention recently. Treatment of the cells with Ginkgo biloba extract significantly reduce the levels of hydrogen peroxide related reactive oxygen species. Among the Ginkgo active components tested, kaempferol and quercetin provided maximum attenuation. Smith JV, Luo Y.J Alzheimers Dis. 2003 Aug;5(4):287-300.
Gingko Reduces Leg Pain associated with Intermittent Claudication
Because of its effects on the circulatory system, ginkgo may also ease the leg pain that arises from intermittent claudication and similar disorders. One study even found that ginkgo performed as well as a leading prescription medication for treating intermittent claudication.
Ginkgo Improves Antidepressant-induced Sexual Dysfunction
Ginkgo has also been used to treat impotence, especially when associated with antidepressant therapy. In an open trial ginkgo biloba was found to be 84% effective in treating antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction predominately caused by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, N = 63). Women (n = 33) were more responsive to the sexually enhancing effects of ginkgo biloba than men (N = 30), with relative success rates of 91% versus 76%. Ginkgo biloba generally had a positive effect on all 4 phases of the sexual response cycle: desire, excitement (erection and lubrication), orgasm, and resolution (afterglow). Patients exhibited sexual dysfunction secondary to a variety of antidepressant medications including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs), serotonin and nonrepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRIs) monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOIs), and tricyclics. Dosages of ginkgo biloba extract ranged from 60 mg qd to 120 mg bid (average = 209mg/d). Cohen AJ, Bartlik BJ Sex Marital Ther. 1998 Apr-Jun;24(2):139-43.
Ginkgo as Antioxidant
Ginkgo is an antioxidant, giving it the ability to help rid the body of free radicals and thus lessen the risk of chronic degenerative diseases. Also due to the antioxidant activity of ginkgo, it may help treat macular degeneration and decrease the damaging effects of radiation, chemotherapy, and certain medications. Enhanced cell death and elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a major role in aging. Several neurodegenerative diseases are associated with increased oxidative stress and cell death in neuronal tissue. Antioxidative treatment has neuro-protective effects. Mice were treated daily with 100 mg/kg Ginkgo Extract for two weeks showed significant reduction in ROS induced cell death. J Neural Transm. 2001;108(8-9):969-78.