The lovely gingko tree is one of the oldest living species of tree. Once it may have covered the globe, but it became nearly extinct after the Ice Age, surviving only in parts of Asia. Ginkgo was a favorite plant of Chinese monks, who cultivated the tree for food and herbal remedies.
The ginkgo tree now has established itself as a useful urban landscape plant, gracing city streets and parks. Because ginkgo is resistant to drought, disease, and pollution, it can live as long as a thousand years. Ginkgo is now grown on plantations to supply the ever-increasing demand for this beautiful and useful tree.
But beauty isn't ginkgo's only asset. The seed or nut is used in Chinese medicine. The nuts also are used in Oriental cooking. And Ginkgo's leaves are also used as a valuable herbal remedy for ailments such as improving circulation, and, as a result, even memory.
Uses for Ginkgo
Ginkgo leaf has been the subject of extensive modern clinical research in Europe. Its most striking clinical effect is its ability to dilate blood vessels and improve circulation and vascular integrity in the head, heart, and extremities. Reduced circulation to the head is responsible for many of the mental and neurological symptoms of aging, including memory loss, depression, and impaired hearing. Double-blind clinical trials -- considered the most reliable method of scientific research -- have shown that ginkgo can help ease these conditions when they are due to impaired circulation.
Ginkgo also has other actions on the brain, including strengthening the vessels and promoting the action of neurotransmitters -- chemical compounds responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses between the brain and other nerve cells.
Because it increases circulation in the heart and limbs, ginkgo may be useful for ischemic heart disease or intermittent claudication, conditions that can occur when blood flow to the muscles is reduced because atherosclerosis has narrowed the arteries. Ginkgo dilates the clogged arteries and allows more blood flow to the muscles. Ginkgo also affects the blood by reducing its tendency to clot, another benefit in atherosclerotic disease.
Constituents in ginkgo also are potent antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects. A common current scientific theory attributes many of the signs of aging and chronic disease to the oxidation of cell membranes by substances called free radicals. These may arise from pollutants in the atmosphere or from the normal production of metabolic by-products and wastes. Antioxidant vitamins and other substances, including ginkgo, currently are being investigated for their ability to counter inflammation and destruction or damage to cells from oxidation.
To learn how to safely take ginkgo and other precautions, read the next section.
To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:
- For an overview of all of our herbal remedies, go to the main Herbal Remedies page.
- To learn more about treating medical conditions at home, visit our main Home Remedies page.
- One of the best things you can do for your health and well being is to make sure you are getting enough of the vital nutrients your body needs. Visit our Vitamins page to learn more.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.