Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan and Physician Luke Yau Wai on June 15, 2022
Health Benefits Of Ginkgo Biloba That Will Surprise You
Published | 6 min read
If there's one supplement you should add to your health and wellness routine, it's Ginkgo biloba. Discover the amazing benefits of this "memory herb" here.
Known as the “memory herb,”
In fact, Ginkgo has a such rich history that it has outlived dinosaurs and is responsible for inspiring poetry.
In this article, we’ll highlight the health benefits of Ginkgo biloba and provide tips for how you can add it to your natural health and wellness routine.
What Is Ginkgo Biloba?
Have you heard about this powerful herb that comes from a tree with stinky fruits? The Ginkgo biloba tree is also known as the maidenhair tree. It has fascinated humans for a long time with its unique fan-shaped leaves and lustrous yellow foliage in autumn.
Native to China and one of Earth’s oldest living fossils, the Ginkgo biloba tree has remained the same for over 200 million years. It’s the last surviving species of its lineage.
Its kernels and leaves have been used for hundreds of years as herbal medicine to prevent cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, and many other ailments.
History Of Ginkgo Biloba
The earliest reference to Ginkgo biloba was in poems written during the Song Dynasty in the 11th century, followed by more references in 13th and 14th-century Chinese literature.
The Ginkgo Biloba tree subsequently found its way to other parts of Asia including Japan, thanks to a Dutch East India Company physician named Engelbert Kaempfe. He became fascinated by the tree and wrote about it in 1712.
The Chinese have been using Ginkgo biloba for many decades for culinary and medicinal purposes. In many Eastern cultures, it is considered a sacred tree.
It has numerous health benefits, owing to two primary active compound groups: terpenoids and flavonoids. Today, both manufacturers in the East and West produce herbal supplements that use the standardized extracts of the plant.
An increasing number of meta-analytical and systemic reviews of smaller studies indicate that the herb has therapeutic action on neurodegenerative, cognitive, and cardiovascular diseases.
Historically used in the East to treat bronchitis, asthma, and renal dysfunction, Ginkgo biloba has great health benefits for modern-day illnesses.
May protect against neurodegenerative diseases
May contain cardioprotective properties
In China, injections containing Ginkgo biloba extract are used to treat heart attacks.
It inhibits apoptosis (programmed cell death) of heart tissue cells, which is a precursor of heart failure.
In addition, there is an indication that the herb has a lot of potential in the reduction of strokes by improving blood plasma viscosity.
May help fight cancer
Research on Ginkgo
May reduce the complications of diabetes
How Is Ginkgo Biloba Used In TCM?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is no stranger to the medicinal powers of Ginkgo
In fact, paleobotanists who study the herb and its extinct relatives believe that its survival had something to do with the early consumption of its kernels by humans and other animals.
Since TCM is a robust medical philosophy and practice, TCM-based therapy includes Ginkgo Biloba leaf extract for numerous ailments.
According to TCM Physician
Other ailments that this herb can address include:
- Dizziness caused by Liver
- Heart palpitations
- Oliguria (abnormally small amounts of urine)
- Neurasthenia (a general condition of neurotic disorders that include symptoms like fatigue and irritability)
- Nephritis (an inflammatory
kidneycondition that prevents it from properly filtering blood)
- Peripheral vascular disease (a circulation disorder)
Of course, a balanced diet and regular exercise should be the first resort to maintaining good health. However, it is good to know we have nature’s gift to help us get to better health along the way.
How To Use It
Most Western preparations of Ginkgo biloba supplements come in tablet form, which is easier to administer orally.
On the other hand, TCM preparations include Ginkgo
Owing to its potency, extracts of Ginkgo
“Patients with senile arteriosclerosis and fragile blood vessels should not consume it long term to avoid cerebral hemorrhage. It is advisable to consult a professional doctor or TCM physician before taking it. Individuals with low blood pressure should take it with caution,” cautions Physician Luke.
A potent powerhouse plant with many great benefits, Ginkgo
While modern-day sentiments may separate sacred knowledge from medical knowledge, it is not surprising that this herb holds the fancy of monks, poets, emperors, healers, scientists, and physicians alike. This living fossil is nature’s gift for the mind and body.
- myHEALTH, Ministry of Health Malaysia. 2014. Ginkgo Biloba.
- Plants People Planet. 2019. An evolutionary and cultural biography of ginkgo.
- Yale School of the Environment. 2013. The Life Story of The Oldest Tree on Earth.
- Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, United Kingdom. 2020. Ginkgo biloba: The tree that outlived the dinosaurs
- StatPearls, National Institute of Health. 2021. Ginkgo Biloba.
- Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2021. The Use of Ginkgo Biloba L. as a Neuroprotective Agent in the Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences. 2021. Cardioprotective Properties of Ginkgo Biloba Extract 80 via the Activation of AKT/GSK3β/β-Catenin Signaling Pathway.
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2021. The Clinical Efficacy of Ginkgo biloba Leaf Preparation on Ischemic Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
- Molecules. 2019. Anticancer Effects of Five Biflavonoids from Ginkgo Biloba L. Male Flowers In Vitro.
- BioMed Research International. 2021. Ginkgo Biloba Extract EGB761 Ameliorates the Extracellular Matrix Accumulation and Mesenchymal Transformation of Renal Tubules in Diabetic Kidney Disease by Inhibiting Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress.
- Asia Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology. 2020. Ginkgo Biloba Extract in Ophthalmic and Systemic Disease, With a Focus on Normal-Tension Glaucoma.
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