Ginkgo biloba is one of the most widely studied herbs, which has been in use for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. The ginkgo tree is unique in the sense that it is one of the oldest living tree species with no close living relatives.
It belongs to the genus, Ginkgo, and the family Ginkgoaceae. This herb, especially its leaves and the seeds have been a part of the traditional Chinese medicine since ancient times. Presently, it is one of the most widely sought-after herbs, and is largely used for making herbal supplements.
The Benefits of Ginkgo
The various medicinal uses of ginkgo have been widely studied and researched. However, not all of these seem to agree on the efficacy of this herb in treating certain health problems. Nevertheless, many research and studies have indicated promising results for conditions like claudication, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia. Apart from these, people throughout the world use this herb for treating many other ailments, some of which are enlisted below.
- It is often promoted and used as a 'brain herb'. It has been found that this herb can increase the flow of blood to the brain, and thereby improve oxygenation of the brain cells. So, ginkgo biloba is believed to be effective in improving brain functions, memory, and concentration.
- Ginkgo biloba has been largely investigated, mainly to find out its efficacy in treating and preventing conditions like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Several studies in this regard have shown positive results.
- It contains antioxidant compounds, which can neutralize the free radicals and thereby prevent degenerative diseases.
- This herb can improve blood circulation and provide relief in a condition, known as intermittent claudication, which is characterized by leg pain after sitting or standing for a prolonged period of time. This condition is caused by the reduced flow of blood to the legs, which can be due to the narrowing of the arteries.
- It contains flavonoids, which are known to be potent antioxidants. These antioxidants can help protect the retina and prevent retinal problems. This herb may prove effective in preventing the degenerative disease, known as macular degeneration.
- One of the main active compounds found in ginkgo biloba is 'ginkgolide', which has shown efficacy in alleviating bronchial constrictions. This compound can therefore, provide relief in bronchial asthma and chronic bronchitis, and reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.
- This herb may help treat erectile dysfunction in men by improving the flow of blood to the genitals.
- Apart from these, this herb may provide relief in conditions like headache, high blood pressure, and varicose veins. Many women use this herb or its supplements to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms.
How to Use?
This herb can be taken in various ways. One simplest way is to use its supplements available in the form of tablets, capsules, and powder. Another simple way to derive the benefits of ginkgo biloba is to prepare herbal tea by steeping its leaves. You can also use the dried herb for making tea. If you decide to use the supplement of this herb, then be sure to buy it from a reputed manufacturer to avoid any undesirable side effects.
Despite all the health benefits, it should be kept in mind that an overuse of ginkgo can give rise to certain health problems. Usually, ginkgo is considered as one of the well-tolerated herbs with no major side effect. Still, a few cases of seizures have been reported in some individuals. It can also raise the risk of bleeding, especially if it is taken along with blood thinning medications. A few other minor side effects of this herb are, diarrhea, digestive problems, headaches, and muscle weakness. To sum up, like any other herbs, ginkgo should be used with care and under the supervision of a health care provider.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.