Ginkgo Biloba also spelled gingko and known as the maidenhair tree, is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives. The ginkgo is a living fossil, recognisably similar to fossils dating back 270 million years. Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated and introduced early in human history, and has various uses as a food and in traditional medicine.
Ginkgo has long been cultivated in China. The first record of Europeans encountering it is in 1690, where the tree was seen by German botanists.
Extracts of ginkgo leaves contain flavonoid glycosides; myricetin, quercetin and terpenoids; ginkgolides and bilobalides. They have been used pharmaceutically. These extracts are shown to exhibit reversible, nonselective monoamine oxidase inhibition, as well as inhibition of reuptake at the serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine transporters. Ginkgo supplements are usually taken in the range of 40–200 mg per day. Recently, clinical trials has shown Ginkgo to be effective in improving cognition in dementia patients.
Ginkgo is believed to have nootropic properties, and is mainly used as memory and concentration enhancer, and antivertigo agent. A trial published in 2010 concluded the Ginkgo extract formulation, when given as a single 240-mg daily dose, was found significantly superior to placebo in the treatment of patients with dementia with neuropsychiatric symptoms.
According to some studies, ginkgo can significantly improve attention in healthy individuals. In one such study, the effect was almost immediate and reaches its peak 2.5 hours after the intake. Thats is nice, be smarter in 2 and 1/2 hours, we all need some Ginkgo in our diet.
Ginkgo extract may have three effects on the human body: improvement in blood flow, including circulation in small capillaries, to most tissues and organs, protection against oxidative cell damage from free radicals, and blockage of many of the effects of platelet aggregation, blood clotting. Ginkgolides may be useful in protection and prevention of thrombus, endotoxic shock, and from myocardial ischeamia. Ginkgo has been studied as a potential treatment for sexual dysfunction related to SSRI use.
The World Health Organization reported the medicinal uses of Ginkgo biloba supported by clinical data include treatment of the effects mild to moderate cerebrovascular insufficiency, and peripheral arterial occlusive diseases. Cerebrovascular insufficiency is insufficient blood flow to the brain, and may manifest itself as memory deficit, disturbed concentration, or headaches.
Peripheral arterial occlusive diseases are those in which the blood flow to the smaller arteries are restricted and may include claudication which is painful walking, and Raynaud's disease, a condition in which the extremities such as fingers, toes, nose or ears, feel numb and cold.
Preliminary studies suggested ginkgo might be of benefit in multiple sclerosis.