Ginkgo is one the oldest surviving tree on this planet, a relic of the dinosaur age that first appeared some 200 million years ago. Used as a healing herb, it has assisted the oldest surviving people. It helps to prevent and treat many health ailments associated with aging including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, heart disease, deafness, blindness, memory loss, and erectile dysfunction.
There are two main reasons for all of the excitement over this wonderful herb. First, ginkgo contains potent antioxidant compounds (ginkgo flavones glycosides and terpene lactones). Antioxidants help to prevent and reverse the cell damage at the root of many degenerative conditions affiliated with aging, including heart disease, stroke, majority of cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Also, ginkgo interferes with the action of the compound produced by the body, platelet activated factor (PAF). Discovered in 1972, PAF is involved in an enormous number of biological processes, including arterial blood flow, asthma attacks, organ graft rejection, and the blood clots involved in heart attacks and most strokes.
Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia
In the U.S, ginkgo made its biggest headline in 1997, when the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. It showed that ginkgo not only slows mental deterioration but, in some cases, actually improves their cognitive abilities.
Researchers gave 200 people in various stages of Alzheimer’s either a medically inactive placebo or 120 milligrams per day of a standardized ginkgo extract. After one year, with comparing those who received the placebo, participants who took ginkgo retained more mental function.
Many studies have proven ginkgo’s effectiveness for slowing the advancement of Alzheimer’s. In all of these studies, the response to ginkgo was similar to what physicians would expect from the pharmaceuticals currently approved to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s or MID. It is still not clear on how ginkgo ameliorates these conditions, but the fact that the herb is a powerful antioxidant and it improves blood flow through the brain could play a role.
Animal studies have found that ginkgo improves memory. Human trials have shown similar results. Commission E now approves ginkgo as a treatment for memory problems.
As blood through the brain diminish with age, the blood transports less food and oxygen to brain cells. If the blood flow becomes blocked, the result is a stroke, the third leading cause of death in the U.S. In Europe, ginkgo is widely prescribed to support recovery from stroke. It has now been approved as well for stroke treatment and rehabilitation.
A study published in the Journal of Urology shows that ginkgo aids in the relief of erectile dysfunction caused by narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the penis. In the research, 60 men with erectile dysfunction caused by impaired penile blood flow were instructed to take 60 milligrams of ginkgo per day. After about a year, half of the men reported significant erection improvement.
Macular degeneration is a leading cause of adult blindness. It involves the deterioration of the macula, the part of the eye’s nerve-rich retina response for central vision (what you see when you look straight ahead). In a French study done, people with macular degeneration who took ginkgo experienced “drastic vision improvement.”
No serious side effects have been affiliated with the use of ginkgo in any study to date, but mild side effects such as stomach upset, headache, and rash are possible. Some people who take large doses do have reported irritability, restlessness, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Allergic reactions or other unexpected side effects are also possible. If any develop, reduce your dose or stop taking this herb.
Pregnant and nursing women should not use ginkgo.