Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba
English Name: Ginkgo
Latin Name: Ginkgo Biloba
What is Ginkgo Biloba?
Often called a maidenhair tree for the way its leaves resemble the maidenhair fern, the ginkgo biloba tree is one of the oldest species of tree still living on the planet. In fact, fossil evidence of the ginkgo biloba dates to the Jurassic period some 270 million years ago. Some living examples in its native China and Japan are believed to be upwards of 800 years old, and the tree’s leaves, seeds and roots have long been used in traditional medicine to treat dementia, circulatory disorders and other health concerns. The nut-like innards of the seed pods are part of a traditional Chinese dish called congee that is often served at weddings and Chinese New Year celebrations. The tree is slow-growing, disease-resistant and adapts well to urban environments, making it a popular species for cultivation. In fact, it is the official tree of the city of Tokyo and the symbol of the esteemed Urasenke school of the Japanese tea ceremony1. A testament to the tree’s hardiness is the fact that six ginkgo bilobas survived the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima and continue to thrive there today2.
How does Ginkgo Biloba work?
Two components of the ginkgo biloba leaf make up its beneficial qualities: flavonoids and terpenoids3. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that help the body combat free radicals and reduce inflammation, which can have far-reaching health implications. Flavonoids have also shown anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, making them beneficial in many ways. Terpenoids are found in many aromatic medicinal plants, such as eucalyptus, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Menthol, camphor and cannabinoids are all forms of terpenoids, and both turmeric and mustard seed contain terpenoids. These phytochemicals help white blood cells attack invaders without over-stimulating the immune system, disrupt inflammation-causing processes in the body and help the body synthesize vitamin A4.
What are the benefits of Ginkgo Biloba?
Studies have indicated that ingesting ginkgo biloba can improve the symptoms of dementia at least as well as synthetic medications, including better cognition and overall functioning. Higher dosages showed more significant results than lower dosages, but the studies are ongoing. Ginkgo has also shown promise in relieving intermittent claudication — a feeling of pain or weakness usually in the legs during exercise that can be a symptom of peripheral artery disease. In this condition, the veins that supply blood to the arms or legs have narrowed. Though not considered a cure, ginkgo has been shown to reduce pain symptoms of claudication, allowing for improved exercise performance3.
Products Featuring Ginkgo biloba
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The content provided is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have a health condition, please consult a medical professional and do not use this information to self-diagnose or self-treat.
 "Ginkgo." Mayo Clinic. October 12, 2017. Accessed October 12, 2018. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-ginkgo/art-20362032.
 Kwant, Cor. "A-bombed Ginkgo Trees in Hiroshima, Japan." The Ginkgo Pages. Accessed October 12, 2018. https://kwanten.home.xs4all.nl/hiroshima.htm.
 Sierpina, Victor S., Bernd Wollschlaeger, and Mark Blumenthal. "Ginkgo Biloba." American Family Physician. September 01, 2003. Accessed October 12, 2018. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0901/p923.html.
 Isokauppila, Tero. "Terpenoids: What Are They and What Do They Do?" Four Sigmatic. Accessed October 12, 2018. https://us.foursigmatic.com/blog/terpenoids-what-are-they-and-what-do-they-do.
Reviewed by Master Herbalist, Mary Ellen Kosanke