Ginkgo

ginkgo, ginkgo biloba, herb

Ginkgo biloba Ginkgoaceae Also called Maidenhair tree


Described by Charles Darwin as a living fossil, ginkgo is the world's oldest surviving tree species. It has grown in China for more than two hundred million years - and individual trees live for a thousand years or more. The ginkgo was brought to Europe in the 18th century as an ornamental tree.


Parts used

  • Leaves
  • Ginkgo is cultivated for the pharmaceutical industry, particularly in the Bordeaux region of France and South Carolina in the USA.
  • The crop is gathered by machines that cut branches from young trees.
  • Ginkgo leaf is used for tinctures, dry extracts and a range of pharmaceutical products.

Constituents

Ginkgo's active elements are ginkgolide terpenes and polyphenols - mainly flavonoids: antioxidants that strengthen blood vessels and improve the circulation.


Medicinal use

Ginkgo has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for more than 4000 years to treat memory loss in the elderly. Today ginkgo is the subject of extensive pharmacological research. Research carried out in 1999 showed that taking ginkgo extract counteracts declining mental faculties. A daily dose of 120-160mg, given to elderly people for 12 weeks, helped to improve concentration and memory as well as reducing mood swings and apathy.


The extract's effectiveness may be due to its effect on the circulation. Research has shown that ginkgo combats age-related deterioration of blood vessels in the brain. It also strengthens the veins and reduces bleeding in the capillaries and can be used to remedy another age-related condition called acrocyanosis - what appears to be permanent bruising, especially. on the hands and feet.


In 1997 Chinese scientists found that ginkgolides had physiological effects that may one day benefit asthma sufferers and help to prevent conditions such as atherosclerosis. Herbalists prescribe ginkgo to enhance mental alertness in people of any age, and to treat impotence.


PREPARATION AND DOSAGE

For internal use


TO TREAT mood swings and memory loss; to improve mental alertness and blood circulation TINCTURE (1:4 in 25% alcohol) Take 15 drops in a glass of water, three times a day before meals. DRY EXTRACT Take 50-100mg three times a day before meals.


Cultivation

Place this very hardy but slowgrowing plant in a rich, well-drained soil in q sunny location.


CAUTIONS

  • No adverse side effects have been reported to date.
  • Overdose can cause stomach upsets and dizziness.
  • Do not give to children.
  • Avoid if taking anticoagulant or blood-thinning drugs.
  • Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.


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