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Ginkgo Biloba - The Longevity Herb




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This article was authored by Klaus Ferlow, HMH (Honorary Master Herbalist), innovator, lecturer, researcher, writer, founder Ferlow Botanical Enterprises Ltd, Vancouver, B.C. manufacturing/distributing organic toxin-free medicinal herbal and personal care products to professional health & wellness practitioners in Canada and parts of USA since 1993.

Ginkgo Biloba - The Longevity Herb

It is also called the Elixir of Youth - modern medicine from an ancient tree.

Think you have lost a little spring in your step? What about a little bounce in your brain? As long as you don't have any serious medical problems, exercising and eating right will ward off some of the physical signs of aging. Mental fitness is much more difficult to maintain - unless you know the secrets of the ginkgo.

In China, the ginkgo tree is considered sacred, and it's easy to see why. The tree has survived in that part of the world. The name may come from the Chinese "Sankyo" or "Yinkuo" (Yin Guo), meaning "hill apricot" or "silver fruit".

The Latin name Ginkgo Biloba L. (formerly Salisburia adiantifolia Sm) was bestowed in 1771 by Linnaeus, the famous Swedish botanist. Kaempfer, the German traveler and surgeon who was the first Westener to write about ginkgo in 1712, used the Japanese name ginkyo. As an ornamental, ginkgo was introduced into England in 1754 and into America in 1784.

The ginkgo, or maidenhair tree, is one of the oldest living species on this plant. During the las t ice age, however, it nearly became extinct and survived only in China and other parts of Asia where they stayed until at least 1000 years ago, when they were planted around monasteries in Japan...and these trees are still living! It is estimated that the tree survived in parts of China for 200 millions years and a single tree can live more than 1000 years. In fact, ginkgos are so hardy that a solitary ginkgo was the only tree to survive the atomic blast of Hiroshima. It therefore seems only natural that anything that's survived so long holds some secrets to longevity. Ginkgo is a worldwide herbal star and top selling medicine and this youth promoting herbals has been used safely for over 3000 years and has undergone extensive laboratory testing.

One way ginkgo increases longevity is by helping your body get rid of cell-destroying free radicals (cancer cells we all have in our bloodstream). The extract from the ginkgo tree is a "free radical scavenger" or natural antioxidant. It inactivates free radicals, protects the genetic material in cells, and helps slow down aging. Let's investigate what ginkgo can do for you:

Ginkgo Fights Aging

First, it widens your blood vessels so more blood can get through. Scientists have isolated a group of compounds called "flavonoids" in ginkgo extract. These flavonoids force the blood vessels to relax, which allows them to carry more blood.

Second, it also makes the blood vessels sticky by keeping platelets separated. Platelets normally help blood clot by clumping together at the site of a cut or scrape. The clotting is triggered by a substance called platelet activating factor, or PAF. While PAF is a good thing to have in your body when you have an injury, it can also cause the platelets to clump within your blood vessels. Normally, there it is not enough clumping to cause a problem. But if you already have reduced blood flow, this platelet clumping can gum up the works even further. Ginkgo makes the platelets keep their distance by blocking PAF. Doctors often prescribe blood thinning drugs for people as they get older (to avoid thickening of the blood you need to drink enough fluid every day which many elderly don't), but by blocking PAF, ginkgo acts as a natural blood thinner.

Third, ginkgo keeps the bad cholesterol "LDL" from clumping up on blood vessel walls, keeping the veins and arteries wide open for maximum blood flow.

Boost Brain Power

Like any other part of the body, the brain needs adequate blood flow, or it can't function properly. Unfortunately, your body has a hard time sending the brain all the blood it needs as you get older. Imagine the drain pipe from your kitchen sink. Over time, water begins to drain through the pipe a little slower and it happens in everybody's kitchen. If you pour a little drain opener down the sink, the water starts to flow fasters. That's exactly what ginkgo can do for blood flow to your brain!

Clinical studies show that extract of the ginkgo tree can increase blood flow to the brain. What's more, the older you are, the better ginkgo appears to work. One study found that blood flow to the brain was increased by about 20% for people ages 30 to 50, but for people ages 50 - 70, the increase was 70%!

More blood flow means more brain power and better short-term memory. It specially means protection against what doctors call "cerebral insufficiency" or dementia. Many people, especially women have some degree of dementia in their later years.

The 12 symptoms of cerebral insufficiency which ginkgo may improve are:

  • difficult concentrating
  • confusion
  • tiredness
  • sadness
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • absent mindness
  • lack of energy
  • aniexty
  • decreased physical performance
  • tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  • depression

Alzheimer's Disease

One of the studies came to the conclusion that women receiving for three years or more HRT = Hormone Replacement Therapy increased their risk to become a Alzheimer patent by 50%, broadcasted on CKNW 98 by Art Hister, MD!!

Though it remains controversial, evidence points toward ginkgo as prevention or early natural therapy for Alzheimer's disease. One study followed 40 people with Alzheimer's. Some took 80 milligrams of ginkgo extract three times a day, while other took a placebo, a harmless unmedicated pill. The people who took the ginkgo had improved memory and were able to pay attention more than those who took the placebo. Some researcher speculate that ginkgo actually increases the number of brain receptors responsible for memory. People who are just beginning to experience symptoms of Alzheimer's might consider taking ginkgo to boost brainpower and delay further loss of memory.

Intermittent Claudication

Do you have leg pain or constant cramping in your calf muscles after even a short walk? As many people get older, their legs don't get an adequate blood supply because of hardened or blocked blood vessels. This painful condition is called intermittent claudication. Fifteen clinical studies have shown that ginkgo extract relieves the symptoms of this disease.

Raynaud's Disease

People who have this disease of the blood vessels react very strongly to colder temperatures. Even moderately cold temperatures can trigger spasm in the blood vessels of their fingers, which prevent proper blood flow. The fingers can turn blue or white and be very painful. By dilating the blood vessels, ginkgo helps to the tips of the fingers to relieve pain and restore the normal colour to the skin.

Varicose & Spider Veins

One of the compounds in the ginkgo extract, "tebonin", is particularly helpful in relieving the unsightly, and sometimes painful, varicose and spider veins that plague people, especially women, in their prime.

Lowers Cholesterol

Ginkgo can cut some of the guilt out of "Thanksgiving dinner". In one study, researchers tested people's blood levels of fat and cholesterol before the holiday season. They tested again a few weeks later after everyone had enjoyed all of the rich holiday meals and snacks. The people who took ginkgo had lower cholesterol levels after the holidays than those who did not take it. Other studies confirm that ginkgo can lower blood cholesterol levels. If you have high cholesterol, ginkgo may help you bring it under control.

Heart Disease

Like other flavonoids, ginkgo can reduce the risk of heart disease. One study showed that people who get the most flavonoids have about one-third the risk of heart disease compared with people who get the least flavonoids. Flavonoids are helpful, natural compounds found in citrus fruits, onions, apples, teas, as well as supplements like ginkgo, grapeseed extract, bilberry, and others.

Dizziness

Is a natural side effect of reduced blood flow to the brain. That's why it is so common among older people. Dizziness can lead to falls, and that is especially dangerous if you have osteoporosis. It does not take much of a fall to break a hip or crack a vertebra if you have brittle bones. While ginkgo won't strengthen your bones (Wild Yam cream does!), it can increase your blood flow, reduce the dizziness, and return you to your sure-footed self.

Prevents Blindness

When the eyes don't receive enough oxygen from the blood, the retina can be damaged, often robbing people of their sight as they get older. Since ginkgo increases blood flow, more oxygen can get to the eyes.

Headaches/Migraine

You don't have to be told to have headaches, but the reduced blood flow associated with aging can certainly make headaches more common. Ginkgo can help to alleviate this type of headache.

Impotence

It may be comforting to know that many men experience impotence or decreased rigidity as they age, but the only real comfort is something that restores the vigour to your sex life. Ginkgo may be just what you are looking for. Even men who have not been helped by conventional drug treatment have responded to gingko, but the results did not happen overnight! Since not all cases of impotence are caused by decreased blood flow to the penis, ginkgo will not work for every man. But if your doctor says you have arterial erectile impotence, you may discover a real aphrodisiac in ginkgo.

Tinnitus And Hearing Discorders

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears that won't go away, is an annoying problems that doctors sometimes find difficult to treat with conventional medicine. That is why some doctors are turning to ginkgo to help their patients.

People who have hearing disorders related to low blood flow to the ears can also find relief after taking ginkgo for several months. Vertigo, a type of dizziness sometimes related to problems in the inner ear, might also be relieved by ginkgo.

Diabetes

Though there is no evidence that ginkgo can cure diabetes, it can be useful in treating a heart problems called "diabetic angiopathy", that is often associated with diabetes. And it can help prevent one of the most common problems faced by people with diabetes - poor circulation which creates insomnia problems by having cold feet and legs and people can't fall asleep. In some cases, poor circulation can lead to amputation of limbs. Ginkgo has been show to increase blood flow to the arms and legs of people with diabetes by 45%.

Asthma Relief

The same substance that causes platelets to clot, PAF, can also trigger asthma. PAF causes spasms in the sacs that make up the lungs. By blocking PAF, ginkgo can prevent these spasms and make it easier to breathe.

Brain & Circulation Tea

ginkgo leaves 1 part

lavender part

wood betony 1 part

lemon balm 1 part

stevia herb 1/8 to part

Adjust the amount of stevia according to how sweet you want your teal. Since stevia is very sweet, you might start on the low side.

Ginkgo Nut Porridge

Take a cup of rice and 10 - 15 ginkgo nuts, cook in 2.5 cups of water over slow heat, until tender. Remove ginkgo nuts, blend rice until creamy, then add ginkgo nut. Warm and serve. Add honey, butter, olive or hemp oil to taste.

Ginkgo is a supplement you can add to your list of daily vitamins and herbs, but don't wait until you feel bad to take it. You will probably have to take the supplement for four to six weeks before you notice any difference in your health.

By now you have read more than you ever wanted to know about ginkgo! Hopefully the scientific details have not been too confusing, and you have emerged with a more precise idea of how ginkgo affects the body.

As a closing comment, you might be interested to know that there is some evidence that ginkgo may be useful as a topical cream or orally for inflammation conditions such as sunburn, eczema, acne, psoriasis, rashes and skin allergies, and as a spray for hay fever or inflammation of the sinus cavity.

Ginkgo Biloba - Elixir of Youth and a Longevity Herb, give it a try!

References:

Ginkgo - Elixir of Youth, Christopher Hobbs

Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, alive books

The Botanical Pharmacy, Heather Boon, BScPhm, PhD, Michael Smith, BPharm, MRPharmsS, ND

Herb Bible, Earl Mindell, R.Ph, Ph.D

Ginkgo Biloba, by David C. Hoffmann, BSc (Hon.), MNIMH

Ginkgo Biloba, by John Martineau

Ginkgo Biloba, by Dr. Desmond Corrigan

Ginkgo Biloba, by Frank Murray

Ginkgo Biloba, by Tracy Smith

Google for testing studies & results about Ginkgo Biloba

This information is offered for its educational value only and should not be used in the diagnose, treatment, or prevention of disease. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care practitioner.

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