Ginkgo has a sterling reputation as a plant-based supplement that can help people think, literally. It's best known for its potential to enhance memory and clear up brain fog, and it has even shown some positive benefits for Alzheimer's patients who otherwise see a steady decline of their cognitive abilities. It gets better, though, as ginkgo has also shown health benefits in numerous other areas as well, mainly in regard to improved blood flow and how that plays out well in so many aspects of your health. Ginkgo (its full name is ginkgo biloba), goes by several other names as well, such as fossil tree, maidenhair, Japanese silver apricot, and yinhsing. The ginkgo tree is a large tree with fan-shaped leaves, per webmd.com. While it is native to China, Japan, and Korea, it has been grown in Europe for nearly 200 years and since the late eighteenth century in America. It is one of the world's longest-living tree species, living as long as 1,000 years. Just so you know, ginkgo biloba is derived from the leaf of the ginkgo tree.
Ginkgo Has a Long HistoryJust like the lifespan of its trees, ginkgo leaf extract has a long and storied history of its own in terms of health benefits, having been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine dating back many centuries. Per National Institutes of Health, members of the Chinese royal court were fed ginkgo nuts to counteract the effects of senility. Other uses of ginkgo through the years have included for relieving conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and kidney and bladder disorders.
What Makes Ginkgo So Effective?Ginkgo biloba extract is composed of two constituents that each have potent antioxidant characteristics – these constituents are flavonoids and terpenoids, per draxe.com. One important thing they can do is inhibit the progression of age-related diseases, and they do this by warding off oxidative stress that can be increasingly damaging as a person ages. (Ginkgo's) ability to increase vascular dilation and improve health of blood vessels means ginkgo biloba supports brain activity, development, detoxifying mechanisms, and immune function, draxe.com reports. Many of ginkgo's most prominent benefits are tied to brain function like focus and memory, as well as mental performance.
A Summary of Many of Ginkgo's BenefitsGinkgo offers plenty of versatility in the area of health benefits, but a consultation with your physician is highly recommended before adding it to a daily regimen. Following are some of the potential ways in which ginkgo might be able to serve your particular health interests:
- Manage anxiety. Per webmd.com, research has demonstrated that using a ginkgo extract for about a month can diminish anxiety-related symptoms.
- Protect/enhance cognitive health. Researchers have found that ginkgo can combat cognitive decline and increase brain function because of its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory that can boost antioxidant activity, reduce oxidative stress, and bolster blood circulation, all of which play a complementary role to one another in promoting cognitive health.
- Help with vision issues. Ginkgo leaf extract consumed by mouth could improve color vision of people with damage to their retinas caused by diabetes. It can also enhance glaucoma-related damage to a person's field of vision.
- Alleviate leg pain associated with walking. Experiencing leg pain while walking (peripheral vascular disease) is likely a symptom of lackluster blood circulation in the legs, although taking ginkgo leaf extract could help relieve the pain, although it might take 24 weeks or more before the benefit starts kicking in.
- Relieve PMS symptoms. Studies have indicated that ingesting ginkgo leaf extract started during the 16th day of the menstrual cycle and continued until the 5th day of the following cycle can relieve breast tenderness and other PMS-related symptoms.
- Counteract dizziness (vertigo). Per webmd.com, ingesting ginkgo leaf extract by mouth has shown promise in alleviating symptoms of dizziness and balance disorders.
- Might help boost libido. Ginkgo's circulation-enhancement capacity is a factor here as is the extract's ability to relax smooth muscle tissue, both of which can contribute to stronger libido.
- Improve sleep. Chalk this up to ginkgo's antioxidant properties, in that it appears to help with sleep quality without affecting REM functions, per draxe.com.
- Improve skin. Studies cited at draxe.com suggest that patients with the skin-discoloration condition known as vitiligo can see noticeable improvement by taking 120 milligrams of ginkgo biloba a day. In the form of a facial cream, ginkgo flavonoids can have a positive effect on dealing with the smoothness/roughness of the skin as well as wrinkles and moisture.
- Treat migraines. One study referenced at draxe.com suggests that ginkgo biloba can cut down on the frequency and severity of migraine headaches, although it might take three months of regular dosages before significant changes show up.