Gingko Biloba: A Glimpse at the Living Fossil

The Gingko species dates way back to the Permian Period some 286 to 248 million years ago. It is indeed one of the oldest tree species in the world and has been labeled as the living fossil by Charles Darwin in 1959. In the middle of the Jurassic Period through the Cretaceous Period, the Gingko species began to increase in number and were commonly found in Asia, Europe, and America. During the extinction, Scientists believed that there was no more trace left for these species until Englebert Kaempfer, German Physician and Botanist discovered in 1691 that Ginkgo has actually survived.

The medical uses of Gingko Biloba dates back to 5000 years ago, mainly as a relief for asthma patients. As time went by, scientists, and even ordinary people came up with more ways in which Gingko can be useful. Gingko Biloba can be used orally and topically and intravenously, depending on what the condition calls for. The most commonly used parts of Gingko would be the leaf, which is often used as an extract. The Gingko seed

Oral Uses:

  • Dementia (Alzheimer’s, Vascular and Mixed Dimentia)
  • Cerebral vascular insufficiency (memory loss, headache, tinnitus, vertigo, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and hearing disorders)
  • Chemic Stroke
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
  • Lyme Disease
  • Sexual Dysfunctions (Including sexual dysfunctions caused by SSRI antidepressants)
  • Eye problems
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Thrombosis
  • Heart Diseases
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Dysentery and Filariasis
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Behavior and Sleep Patterns among patients suffering from Depression
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Acute mountain sickness and aging
  • Gastric acidity
  • Liver and Gallbladder support
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Bronchitis
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Improved digestion
  • Prevent drunkenness

Topical Uses:

  • To wash lesions on the fingers, toes, heels, ears, and nose caused by exposure to extreme cold
  • Wounds
  • Scabies and skin sores

In addition to those mentioned above, Gingko Biloba is also widely being used in the cosmetics and even food industry. Given this long list of the possible uses of Gingko Biloba, a number of scientific research in the past have determined its efficacy, as well as its inefficacy on some of these uses that we have mentioned.

Gingko Biloba is more likely to be effective when used as an aid to the following conditions:

  • Age-related memory impairment
  • Cognitive function
  • Dementia
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)
  • PMS
  • Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Vertigo

On the other hand, Gingko Biloba has been found ineffective on the following conditions, based on a number of studies conducted pertaining to it.

  • Altitude Sickness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Tinnitus
  • Cardiovascular disease

In addition to this, the efficacy of Gingko Biloba on the following conditions has not been proven due to insufficient evidence found during researches:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hearing loss
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Radiation exposure
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stroke

Safety Issues

Despite the many benefits that one can get from this herb, the public is likewise warned about its unsafe usage, which may lead to several health problems. Just like the roasted seed or crude ginkgo plant, which is most often used orally, may induce difficulty breathing, weak pulse, seizures, loss of consciousness, and shock when taken in a quantity of more than 10 per day. The fresh gingko seed on the other hand, are potentially toxic and deadly. The plant should also not be taken by pregnant women, as issues pertaining to premature labor have been associated to doing so.

Gingko Biloba has also been known to cause several adverse reactions such as mild gastrointestinal (GI) upset, headache, dizziness, palpitations, constipation, and allergic skin reactions when taken in typical doses. However, when taken in large doses, the use of Gingko can cause restlessness, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, lack of muscle tone, and weakness.

There were also reports that suggest minor to severe bleeding as one of the side effects of taking Gingko Biloba. While this may be alarming to some, it is to be noted that the bleeding effects have not been clearly linked to the use of Gingko alone. Some other factors have been present such as taking other medications, old age, liver cirrhosis, recent surgery, and other conditions.

A recent study did report that Gingko did cause liver and thyroid tumors. The research was based on large dosages of Gingko you may want to consider this in your supplementation.

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About John Montague DC

John Montague DC is the owner of WebVitamins. He is active in the industry and is currently president of the NPA East.

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