Ginkgo biloba (from the family Ginkgoaceae) is an ancient herbal plant. First used in Traditional Chinese Medicine more than 2,000 years ago, ginkgo has been known as the “Longevity Tree” and has been used to help various diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and tinnitus. The ginkgo tree is known to be the oldest tree on earth, which makes sense when you consider that people have been using ginkgo to promote longevity.
With its unique chemical composition, ginkgo helps improve brain function and memory retention by increasing blood flow to your brain.
Health Benefits of Gingko Biloba
The ginkgo biloba tree is known to have many positive effects on the human body. It is a natural stress reliever and memory enhancer, and offers support for tinnitus, geriatric complaints, and psychiatric disorders. But ginkgo is also known as a nootropic and is best known for its benefits to the brain.
What Are Nootropics?
In the last 10,000 years, our lives have changed a lot. We have gone from small societies to fast-paced worlds with every type of technology imaginable and different stresses put on our brains. But you may be surprised to learn that our brains have stayed relatively the same as our hunter-gatherer relatives. Fortunately, there is a class of nutraceuticals called Nootropics.
The word nootropic comes from the Greek word noos, which means “mind” and tropos, which means “changed.” Almost every culture around the world has used nootropics at some point, whether to help increase stamina before a battle or to elevate consciousness, we have made use of nootropics for thousands and thousands of years.
Ginkgo biloba can be used as a nootropic to support memory and cognitive function.
Studies on Ginkgo Biloba
While some of the results of studies on ginkgo biloba have been inconclusive, others show its benefits for adults, seniors and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.
• In one study, participants showed improvement in working memory after taking ginkgo biloba extract for 14 days.
• In another study, ginkgo biloba was shown to improve cognitive function in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease.
• A separate study showed that taking a combination of ginkgo biloba, polyunsaturated fatty acids and lycopene resulted in an improvement in cognitive function in adults over the age of 65.
How Does Ginkgo Biloba Work?
Since then, researchers have tried to find out exactly how ginkgo works at a molecular level and why it seems to help with so many different ailments. The answer lies in its powerful antioxidant properties: ginkgo supplements can prevent oxidation damage from free radicals and increase blood flow to key organs like the brain. Ginkgo can also remove waste from cells and aid in mitochondrial function.
Active Ingredients in Gingko Biloba
The ginkgo tree contains two main active ingredients: terpene lactones (including ginkgolides and diterpenes) and ginkgo flavone glycosides (which include ginkgetin, bilobetin, and sciadopitysin). Terpenes have antioxidant properties which may prevent free radical damage to cells and tissues during metabolism, and ginkgolides have been shown to improve memory and facilitate mental clarity.
Ginkgo Biloba Supplements
The optimal dose of ginkgo is 120-240mg daily, standardized to 24-27% flavone glycosides and 6-7% triterpenes.
When shopping for a ginkgo supplement you should look for one that’s from a well-known brand like Ginkgo Biloba Phytosome by Natural Factors. This supplement is formulated for optimal memory and brain function and antioxidant protection. Natural Factors patented phytosome process binds ginkgo biloba extract to phosphatidylcholine. This supplement provides 24% ginkgo flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones. Therefore, you know you’re getting optimal dosing, absorption and quality.
A Few Notes on Safety
Ginkgo biloba is generally safe for up to six months, but it’s rare for people to experience severe side effects. People who use ginkgo should stop taking it at least two weeks before a surgical procedure and don’t use it if you have a bleeding disorder, take medications or use other herbs that may increase your risk of bleeding. Due to its potential impact on blood sugar levels, be cautious about using ginkgo if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia or if you take other medications or herbs that also lower blood sugar. Don’t use ginkgo if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. It is strongly recommended that you consult a good naturopathy doctor before taking any supplements.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.