Ginkgo Biloba Benefits for Brain Health

GINKGO BILOBA LEAVES
GINKGO BILOBA LEAVES | Source

What is ginkgo biloba?

Ginkgo is one of the oldest trees on the planet. Fossilised leaves, very similar to ginkgo, dating from 250 million years have been found by paleobotanists. In addition, the tree has been used by humans for thousands of years as a food source and for its medicinal properties. The popular supplement that we use today is extracted from the leaves or seeds of the tree after being collected and dried out.

Ginkgo biloba has many health uses but one of the most important is the benefits it gives to our brains.

Gingko biloba has many health benefits especially for the brain.
Gingko biloba has many health benefits especially for the brain. | Source
Ginko biloba helps to achieve a healthy mind and body.
Ginko biloba helps to achieve a healthy mind and body. | Source

Improve your brain power with ginko biloba

The brain, like any other organ of the body, needs a good blood supply and nutrients if it's to stay healthy and alert. Ginko biloba seems to help with the following:

  • Mood balance.
  • Memory.
  • Alertness.
  • Reduces mental fatigue and increases energy.
  • Helps to maintain circulation to the brain of blood and nutrients.
  • Helps to maintain the neurotransmitters in nerve cells.
  • Early research suggests that it may help conditions such as - cerebral artherosclerosis, cerebral oedema, Alzheimer's disease.

Research from Maryland Medical Centre USA shows that ginko biloba was also useful for patients who had intermittent claudication. In addition, it's now known that ginko biloba has very good antioxidant and detoxifying qualities.

Further research at the UCLA Brain Research Institute (USA), found that verbal recall was improved in a test group who had age related memory difficulties. In addition, the researchers used positron-emission tomography (PET) scanning and noted that the brain functioned better in memory centres for those taking the supplement.

In other studies in France, published in the Journal of Gerontology, showed that an extract from ginkgo - extract EGb 761 - seemed to help cognitive skills to be maintained longer with people who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Definitions of medical conditions

Medical Condition
Definition
Cerebral Athereosclerosis
A condition where arteries become clogged up by fatty substances, such as cholesterol. These substances are called plaques or atheromas.
Cerebral Oedema (American spelling Odema)
A build up of fluid around the brain caused by disease or injury
Intermittent Claudication
Intermittent claudication - leg pain felt when walking and generally related to problems with poor blood circulation.
Alzheimer's Disease
Is the most common form of dementia. The disease attacks nerves, brain cells and neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry messages to and from the brain).
Some research has shown that Ginkgo Biloba helps maintain brain health.
Some research has shown that Ginkgo Biloba helps maintain brain health. | Source
Ginkgo Biloba helps body cells to stay healthy
Ginkgo Biloba helps body cells to stay healthy | Source

Why does ginkgo biloba help with brain health?

Reserch over the years has found the ginkgo leaves have two chemicals within them - flavonoids and terpenoids. Both these substances are thought to have strong antioxidant properties.

Antioxidants are compounds that help to prevent harm to the body cells and/or repair cells that have been damaged. They do this by slowing down the damage caused by oxygen during a reaction called the oxidative process. This is where free radicals can be created and it is these that lead to cell damage. These free radicals are known to destroy cell membranes and interfere with DNA. In some cases free radicals are also known to destroy cells completely.

The damage to cells could possibly lead to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and many others. Free radicals also cause ageing in cells and ginkgo biloba may help to prevent this. It is thought that the antioxidants in gingko biloba helps to neutralise many of these free radicals.

Ginkgo biloba also helps improve blood supply to the brain and all it's vessels. Not only does this ensure the brain has essential oxygen, but that necessary nutrients are also delivered to the cerebral tissues and cells. When the brain constantly has a good supply of blood and quality nutrients this has shown to increase the longevity of the cerebral cells

Ginkgo biloba seeds are used as well as the leaves as a health supplement.
Ginkgo biloba seeds are used as well as the leaves as a health supplement. | Source

Poll on nutritional supplements

Do you currently take nutritional supplements such as vitamins, minerals etc., on a regular basis?

  • Yes. I take them daily or every couple of days.
  • Sometimes. I take them if I think I need extra nutrition.
  • No. I don't feel they are worth the money.
  • I would like to but most are too expensive.
See results without voting

Nutritional Supplements

Threre are so many nutritional supplements around today. Do you often get confused by the choice available and what they do?

  • No, I tend to stick with the supplements I know well and I know what they are for.
  • Yes. It's very confusing when you want to buy a supplement and there are hundreds to choose from all claiming to do you good.
  • No. I don't use supplements at all so never get confused about the choice.
See results without voting

Maintaining brain health

Research certainly points to ginkgo biloba being a useful supplement in the diet. Elderly people can also benefit from the extraordinary leaves and seeds, as memory recall and brain activity seem to be enhanced by regular use. However as with any supplement there can be side effects. These are:

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • People on certain medications should not take gingko biloba - especially MAOI anti-depressant tablets.
  • People who have a medical disorder where they have a problem with their blood clotting should avoid gingko biloba as it may increase bleeding.

Most people however, can take gingko biloba without any bad effects. The normal range to take daily is approximately 40mg to 200mg.

If you feel that you would benefit from gingko biloba or indeed any supplement but you're not sure if they can cause adverse affects, then speak to your doctor first. For anyone on regular medications, you should always seek medical advice before taking any supplements. Many drugs and supplements interact with each other in a negative way and this could cause illness or lessen the drugs ability to work properly when you take it.

The future of supplements

Not that long ago many supplements were viewed as being sold by quacks and only used by new age dreamers or vegetarians. However, as has been proven time and time again, what science often brushes off as rubbish, frequently proves to be of greater worth than scientists could ever imagine.

If might pay us as well, not to shun our past but look more to our ancestors who used so many of these natural foods for their benefit. What other substances, with advantages for health, await to be discovered?

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Comments 25 comments

ThompsonPen profile image

ThompsonPen 4 years ago from Bellingham, WA

This was a really well researched and written article. I am quite impressed. I look forward to checking out some of your other work!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

a very beneficial hub seeker.. i hope it can help my brain out from years of cheap beer during my college days :(


kissayer profile image

kissayer 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Fabulous hub! I remember my grandpa was taking ginkgo biloba for a long time as recommended by his doctors after suffering a stroke. You've got some excellent info here!


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 4 years ago from Massachusetts

This is all great and interesting information within this well written hub about the supplement gingko biloba. Well done !

Vote up and more !!!


AlexK2009 profile image

AlexK2009 4 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

I read somewhere Ginko Biloba boosted circulation. Perhaps this helps with other problems that also help brain and mood


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Good hub on Ginkgo. I see that its health benefits are wonderful and varied. I have not really considered it as a supplement, but I have had it as tea on occasion.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hello ThompsonPen, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

LOL! Hi Frank! I think we all have so many sins from our student days that need put right! But that was half the fun of being a student - you just enjoyed and never bothered about the consequences for laters years - really because we never thought that those 'later years' would ever arrive! Alas!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi kissayer, many thanks for stopping by, lovely to hear from you. Glad that you enjoyed the hub. That is very interesting about your Grandpa. It just shows that for some time back we've had wise souls who knew the benefits of these alternative medicines and supplements.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Kashmir56, many thanks, as always, for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub - and thank your for the lovely compliment!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi AlexK2009, many thanks for stopping by. I think they've only scratched the surfaced with this supplement and there will be many more uses found for it.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi teaches12345, as always, many thanks for stopping by. I have never tried this supplement as a tea - it sounds quite nice actually! I think there might well be even more benefits that have not been discovered yet. But what fascinates me, is the way that ancient peoples knew about these wonderful, natural remedies.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

hmm..very impressive and well written hub


justathought101 4 years ago

This plant extract really does effect the brain and the blood supply, that is why is has been banned for sale across the counter in Ireland. It was often suggested that it helped hearing and a friend of mine used it - it caused heart palpitations and other lesser symptoms. Go easy with it, if it really were that good a solution it would be much more available.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi unknown spy (love the name!), many thanks for the visit and leaving a comment!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi justathought101, many thanks for stopping by and for leaving such an interesting comment.

I didn't know that Ireland had stopped the sale of this supplement - very interesting. I do agree with you that care should be taken with anything we put into our mouths and not just supplements either. If Ireland still allows sales of medications for example such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and so on, these are just as dangerous, if not more so, than many of the alternative treaments. But I do agree, we always have to be careful.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 4 years ago

This is a fantastic hub. You explained everything so well and taught me so much. Ginkgo Biloba has so many positive benefits for us. I think the only negative is the berries from the female trees smell really really bad. Nothing is perfect, I guess, except for this hub. Thanks for sharing this wonderful info. All the best, and keep up the great writing.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi toknowinfo, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub! But thnk you mostly for the lovely comment - very much appreciated!!

LOL! I had no idea that berries from the female tree stunk? I'll need to mind and put that info in the hub as an interesting point!


howtoworkathome 3 years ago from Florida

Great pages thanks for share. Learn even more about Ginkgo Biloba - http://www.squidoo.com/what-is-ginkgo-biloba


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

hi howtoworkathome,

Many thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment - greatly appreciated!


howtoworkathome 3 years ago from Florida

Your more than welcome :)


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 3 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Thank you Seeker for sharing this information on Ginko Biloba and how it can help people. I wish my father had taken it for his Alzheimer's and dementia. We didn't even know he had a problem for a long time. It is great to learn what we can as we can to help ourselves in the future.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi oceansnsunsets, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub.

I'm sorry to hear about your Dad, it's an illness that can mask itself for a very long time. And yes, if the knowledge about these were only known sooner for so many people. My Dad has Parkinson's Disease and I'm on the hunt at the moment for anything natural that seems to help with this condition. But I agree that the more we learn now the more it will help those in the future.


Raiden2005 2 years ago

"This plant extract really does effect the brain and the blood supply, that is why is has been banned for sale across the counter in Ireland. It was often suggested that it helped hearing and a friend of mine used it - it caused heart palpitations and other lesser symptoms. Go easy with it, if it really were that good a solution it would be much more available."

There situation in Ireland has nothing to do with Ginkgo Biloba. It's just that the natural health industry in Ireland is quite weak compared to big pharma.

It's been banned in Ireland because Ireland is trying to attract drug companies to do business there, those sort of companies like regulation, prescription, control. How else can they make you pay through the ears for it?

Of course they always say it's about safety, but it's really about money - it always is.

Yes, Ginkgo Biloba in the 100mg-300mg (or even a few times higher doses) is harmless, and offers many anti-cancer benefits. I have never actually heard of a death from it, and it is the third most used supplement in the USA. It boosts blood supply to the brain and I have certainly noticed the effect on dreams. It makes them very precise. If you ate maybe 3 grams you might start getting nosebleeds, but you should be eating as I said a lot less.

It can interact very badly with pharmaceutical drugs, such as rat poison. But taking rat poison is your choice, as is eating Ginkgo Biloba.

Ginkgo Biloba has been recommended for Tinnitus, as well as being shown to ameliorate the effects of Cisplatin, the chemotherapy drug, on infertility in male rats. This has promise for human effects, although no trials have yet happened. Cisplatin causes testicular atrophy, loss of sperm motility, and loss of sperm count. The effects of Cisplatin on these quantities were ameliorated to the tune -18%, 51%, and 27% respectively. [Yeah, the testicles got bigger than the control rats in the first case, by 4%].

As for the many anti-cancer benefits of Ginkgo Biloba, see http://www.tinnitusformula.com/library/gingko-and-...

In particular Ginkgolide B, a component of Ginkgo Biloba and perhaps the most famous one, gives ovarian cancer cells a very hard time, and commands them to die. That's already a pretty special thing but they found that the effect was biggest on the more aggressive types of cancer. They are looking into incorporating the herb into conventional radiotherapy etc. treatment.

The thing you have to understand is, no, Ginkgo Biloba is not a big problem for anyone, including pharmaceutical companies, but they do not like that they can't patent it. As such they will happily see it and other herbal supplements banned, or regulated so they can ratchet up the price.

You shouldn't guzzle dozens of Ginkgo tablets and you shouldn't take it with blood thinning medication (which is a nasty thing to be on in the first place).


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 2 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Raiden2005,

Many thanks for your interesting input.

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