Ginkgo biloba and its health benefits
What is Gingko biloba?
Ginkgo biloba (maidenhair tree) is a medicinal tree species that can live up to thousand years and is one of the ancient plants on the planet. It is a deciduous tree with seasonal shedding of leaves and petals. The plant leaves are fan-shaped with two separate parts and have broad margins. It is native to China and has been used for traditional Chinese medicines from ancient times.The sole source of Ginkgo biloba is the Ginko tree.
Facts of Ginkgo biloba
- Ginkgo biloba is also known as ginkgo, silver apricot, baiguo, and yinhsing
- Ginkgo biloba has no surviving relatives belonging to the species and is hence called the ‘living fossil.’
- In ancient times, the Ginkgo leaves were used as natural remedies for treating several health problems.
- Ginkgo biloba is presently one of the popular health supplements in Europe and the United States
Nutrition in Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba is full of nutrition; it has many active components at high and low levels, like
Major source of
- Vitamins A
- Vitamin C
Minor source of
- Pantothenic acid
Bioactive Components in Ginkgo biloba
- Terpenoids are secondary metabolites present in plants, secondary metabolites are natural compounds produced by plants for defense purposes.
- It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties
- Flavonoids are polyphenolic secondary metabolites in plants
- It has antioxidant properties
- Lignans are polyphenols compounds present in the plant
- It has antioxidant and anticancer properties
- It functions as estrogen(female hormone) in the body
Benefits of Ginkgo biloba
The active components of Ginkgo biloba neutralize free radicals produced in the body and prevent cell damage.Free radicals are unstable particles produced in the body during normal body processes and can destroy cells, cause sickness and initiate aging
Benefits of using Ginkgo supplements are as follow:
- It reduces the markers of inflammation viz; c reactive protein marker
- It reduces pain, swelling, and redness .
Provide antioxidant property
- It inhibits oxidative stress in the body
- Prevents abnormal cell growth
- It prevents deoxyribonucleic acid damage
- Protects the body against long-term diseases
Improves blood circulation
- It increases the blood flow
- It helps in the dilation of the blood vessels
Improves mental health
- It improves memory and concentration
- It enhances the brain’s functioning
However, more research is required to prove its efficiency
Help treat dementia
- It improves the associated symptoms of dementia, such as stress and anxiety
- It enhances the brain’s thinking ability
Improves eye vision
- It improves the blood flow to the eye in glaucoma patients
- It improved vision of age-related macular degeneration disease
- Age-related macular degeneration disease is an eye disease that blurs the eye vision
- Ginkgo helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety
However, more research is required to prove Ginkgo’s effects on anxiety
- It improves the symptoms of depression.
- It reduced depression in post-stroke patients when used with venlafaxine (an antidepressant drug)
- Ginkgo help in treating headaches
- It can dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow
- Its anti-inflammatory effect reduces the pain
However, more research is warranted to prove the relationship between Ginkgo and headaches
Treats asthma and other respiratory diseases
- It improved the symptoms of asthma
- It reduces the inflammation of the airways to the lungs
- It increases the lung capacity
Treats premenstrual syndrome
- It reduced the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
- It reduces the stomach cramps
- It reduces the anxiety
Treats sexual dysfunction
- It reduces the symptoms of sexual dysfunction by improving blood flow to the sex organ
- It improved the sexual desire
However, research is minimal to prove sexual dysfunction
Various available forms of Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo is available in various form to administer
Common forms are
- Dried leaves
- Dried leaves are used to prepare tea
Ginkgo biloba liquid extract available as
- Tinctures (plant extract dissolved in ethanol)
- Glycerites( plant extract dissolved in glycerin)
Ginkgo standardized extracts
Standardized extracts are herbal extracts containing one or more components in guaranteed amounts and are generally expressed in percentages. Ginkgo biloba standardized extract is available as
- Triterpene lactones( contain 6 to 12% terpenoids)
- Flavone glycosides(contain 24 to 32% flavonoids)
Ginkgo tablets are health supplements promoted to treat the following conditions
- Dementia (loss of thinking and reasoning capacity)
- Memory loss
- Buzzing sound in the ears
- Poor blood circulation
- Eye problem
Dosage of Ginkgo biloba
- Adults can take 120 to 240 milligrams per day 2 to 3 times in a divided dose.
- It can take 24 to 42 days to get noticeable results.
However, it is best to consult a physician to get the correct dose
Who should not consume Ginkgo biloba ?
People should avoid consuming ginkgo or any supplements containing ginkgo, in following health status
- Diabetes (high sugar)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Epilepsy (abnormal activity in the brain that causes uncontrolled body shaking)
- Bleeding problem
- Pregnant woman
- Nursing mothers
- People above 65 years of age
Side effects of Ginkgo biloba
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Abdominal pain
- Skin rash
- Swelling of face, mouth, lips
- Diarrhea (watery stool)
- Constipation (difficulty in clearing bowels)
Interactions with medicines
Ginkgo may interact when consumed with other medicines, like
- Taking Ginkgo and diabetic drugs together might alter the effect of the drug.
- Alprazolam is used to relieve anxiety
- Taking Ginkgo and Alprazolam together might decrease the effectiveness of the drug.
- Taking Ginkgo and anticonvulsant drugs together might decrease the efficiency of the drug.
Anticoagulant drugs (blood thinning medications)
- Taking Ginkgo and anticoagulants together increases the risk of bleeding
- Taking Ginkgo and antidepressants (such as Tofranil and Prozac) together might reduce the drug’s effect.
Antihypertensive drugs (High blood pressure controlling drugs)
- Ginko lowers blood pressure.
- So taking Ginkgo and antihypertensive drugs together may further dip the blood pressure leading to dizziness and fainting.
- Taking Ginkgo and ibuprofen together might cause profuse bleeding
- Cyclosporine (used after organ transplantation) suppresses the immune system while Ginko enhances the body’s immune response.
- So taking Ginkgo and cyclosporine together might reduce the effectiveness of the drug.
Thiazide diuretics (a drug that increases urine flow)
- Taking Ginkgo and thiazide together appears to increase the blood pressure
- Ginkgo biloba is a traditional medicine used for centuries
- Ginkgo biloba research is limited, and more research is needed to evaluate its efficiency for human health
- Ginkgo biloba supplements are available in health stores to be purchased online.
- It is always advisable to consult a registered health practitioner before consuming Ginkgo biloba tablets or supplements