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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Dietary Supplements >>  Ginkgo


Ginkgo is one of the best selling herbs today in United States and is used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is also one of the oldest, long living tree species and most extensively studied herb. Ginkgo seeds are occasionally cooked and eaten (which should not be practiced as it can be potentially deadly), but unlike most of the herbs, ginkgo leaves are not taken in crude form, but in the form of concentrated standardized ginkgo biloba extract which is prepared from dried green leaves. Ginkgo leaves contain flavonoids and terpenoids that are believed to have antioxidant properties.

Health and ginkgo

  1. Ginkgo biloba when taken orally can show improvements in claudication (painful legs from clogged arteries).
    People with early stage Alzheimer’s disease, multi-infarct dementia, age-associated memory impairment and acetylcholinesterase inhibitor drugs may benefit form ginkgo supplementation.
  2. Decreased blood flow to the brain can clog blood vessels leading to a condition called ‘cerebral insufficiency’. Ginkgo supplementation may be beneficial in cerebral insufficiency treatment and help improve its symptoms like poor concentration, confusion, dizziness, headache, depression, absent-mindedness, confusion, anxiety and fatigue.
  3. Patients with acute hemorrhoidal attacks may also benefit from ginkgo supplementation.
  4. Ginkgo can also benefit patients with altitude sickness, chronic cochleovestibular disorders (deafness), depression, upper digestive tract malignant tumors, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary interstitial fibrosis, Raynaud’s disease, sexual dysfunction in men and women, stroke, vertigo, vitiligo and improve general quality of life.
  5. Ginkgo may marginally improve blood flow in the eye helping patients with glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinopathy.  
  6. Ginkgo can be used in PMS treatment as it helps to relieve its symptoms including breast discomfort or emotional upset.

Side effects of ginkgo

  1. Ginkgo leaf extract when taken orally is well tolerated for six months in most individuals with minor symptoms like nausea, headache and stomach upset.
  2. Ginkgo when used in high amounts increases the risk of bleeding, thus people with bleeding disorders or on medication or drugs for the same should use ginkgo with caution. Also its use prior to surgery should be avoided.
  3. Theoretically ginkgo may affect insulin and blood glucose levels, so patients with diabetes, hypoglycemia or on medications or herbs supplement for the same should also use ginkgo with caution.
  4. The use of ginkgo is not recommended during pregnancy and lactation, as its association with risk of bleeding may prove dangerous during pregnancy.
Ginkgo and ginkgo supplementation should be taken in recommended doses under the guidance and supervision of a health care professional to gain maximum benefits from this herb.

Submitted on January 16, 2014