Ginkgo – “Living Fossil”
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on August 16, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
The Ginkgo tree is one of the oldest living species of trees on the planet, dating back over 300 million years.
Ginkgo is probably most renowned for its ability to help with memory and cognitive function. Ginkgo leaf has been shown to improve circulation to the brain which, in turn, elevates oxygen levels. This boosts the brain’s metabolism of glucose, its primary source of fuel, thereby enhancing mental focus and the ability to concentrate.
Diminished cerebral circulation can also result in vertigo, ringing in the ear, Alzheimer symptoms, forgetfulness, and depression. Depression in the elderly may not be a neurotransmitter problem, as much as a cerebral vascular insufficiency. Ginkgo may be a very beneficial consideration for all of these.
Ginkgo improves circulation in other parts of the body as well, making it useful for those who suffer from Raynaud’s syndrome, circulatory deficiency such as that found with diabetics, or anyone with compromised circulation. Ginkgo helps improve overall energy and vitality through enhanced delivery of nutrients which the improved circulation provides.
Ginkgo strengthens the blood vessels, especially capillaries, with its essential flavonoid compounds. Flavonoids are plant-based compounds that are incorporated into blood vessel walls to improve structural integrity; they are also antioxidants, which protect cells against free-radical damage.
Ginkgo also decreases ‘blood stickiness’ (platelet aggregation). This may be a beneficial feature for individuals prone to clots; however, it is contraindicated for those already on blood thinner medications (e.g., Warfarin, coumadin). Because of its potential effects upon bleeding, Ginkgo should be discontinued at least 36 hours prior to any surgery, including dental work.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan