The health benefits of Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba or yin xin (银杏) in Chinese is a large tree with fan-shaped leaves. This species is famously known as the “living fossil” due to its longevity with some trees survive over a thousand years. Originally found in Eastern Asia, especially China, Japan, and Korea, this tree has been planted throughout the world.

A Ginkgo tree can live over a thousand years.

The nuts from Ginkgo tree called bai guo (白果) or white fruit literally, is a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine. Ginkgo nuts have also been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for treatment of a diverse range of conditions including asthma, cough, urological conditions, leukorrhea, etc. However, ginkgo nuts should not be eaten in large quantity as it contains a small amount of toxic compound. Ginkgo nuts poisoning, especially among children, is not uncommon.

Aunt Lay Leong's Barley, Gingko, Beancurd Sheet Dessert Soup (3978777779)

Ginkgo, barley and bean curd skin dessert.

Ginkgo leaves extract has become a popular complementary medicine in recent years. Extensive research has been conducted to uncover the benefits of Ginkgo leaves extract over the years. Standardised Ginkgo leaves extract has been shown to be a potent antioxidant. It also contains substances that can prevent platelet in blood to aggregate and thus promoting blood flow and improve circulation in the brain, eyes, hands and legs [1]. This can bring about many potential benefits to the human body.

Improving the brain function

Ginkgo is can help to prevent dementia.

Ginkgo leaves extract can help to improve memory and cognitive performance. Many clinical trials have shown that ginkgo leaves extract is effective in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A long-term population-based study which followed 3612 non-demented participants aged 65 and over for 20 years found that the elderly who used Ginkgo leaves extract regularly suffered a lower incidence of cognitive decline [2]. Hence, regular consumption of Ginkgo leaves extract can potentially improve the brain function and prevent dementia and it is now the most widely used herbal remedies for dementia.

Recovery from stroke

This is what happen during a stroke.

Ginkgo leaves extract has been used to help the recovery of brain function in stroke patients. Several properties of Ginkgo leaves extract are highly beneficial to assist in the recovery of brain injury, most notably the antioxidant effects, the ability to increase blood flow to the brain, and the improvement of neurotransmitter activity [3]. A large multi-centre clinical trial in China with 348 patients found that patients taking 450 mg Ginkgo leaves extract together with 100 mg aspirin daily for 6 months had improved cognitive function compared to patients that took 100 mg aspirin alone [4]. Hence, Ginkgo leaves extract can help to improve brain recovery among stroke patients.

Leg numbness and pain

Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral arterial disease can cause leg pain, numbness, and weakness

For elderly suffering from coldness in the lower leg and feels numbness, or weakness in legs or pain during walking, it can be a sign of reducing blood flow to the legs due to narrowing of arteries. This condition is called peripheral artery disease. Ginkgo leaves extract can be an effective treatment. A clinical trial with 62 elderly patients with an average age of 70 years old found that taking 300mg per day of Ginkgo leaves extract significantly improved the ability of the elderly to walk without pain compared to placebo. This can be due to the improved blood flow to the legs by Ginkgo leaves extract [5].

Improving eye functions

Ginkgo leaves extract can be useful in the prevention of a number of eye conditions due to aging. Ginkgo leaves extract may protect the optic nerve in the eyes from degeneration. It can be useful in the prevention and treatment of glaucoma, a group of eye conditions with increased pressure in the eye that can cause damage to the optic nerve [6]. In addition, there are also studies that show Ginkgo leaves extract can improve vision and slow the progress of agerelated macular degeneration, a condition that affects the retina of the eyes. Ginkgo leaves extract can prevent inflammation associated with retinal detachment and decrease the occurrence of retinal detachment [6].

Ginkgo can improve eye functions

Conclusion

Ginkgo has a long history in both culinary and medicinal use. Ginkgo leaves extract is now one of the most commonly used herbal supplements among the elderly. It has many potential benefits due to its antioxidant properties and its ability to improve blood flow. Taking Ginkgo leaves extract regularly can be useful in improving brain function, preventing dementia, recover from a stroke, improve peripheral blood flow, and prevent deterioration of eye functions. This is the reason why Ginkgo leaves extract is the most recommended supplements for aging.

References

[1]        K.M. Nash, Z.A. Shah, Current perspectives on the beneficial role of Ginkgo biloba in neurological and cerebrovascular disorders, Integr. Med. Insights. 10 (2015) 1–9. doi:10.4137/IMI.S25054.

[2]        H. Amieva, C. Meillon, C. Helmer, P. Barberger-Gateau, J.F. Dartigues, Ginkgo Biloba Extract and Long-Term Cognitive Decline: A 20-Year Follow-Up Population-Based Study, PLoS One. 8 (2013) 1–8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052755.

[3]        A. Raghavan, Z.A. Shah, Repair and regeneration properties of Ginkgo biloba after ischemic brain injury, Neural Regen. Res. 9 (2014) 1104–1107. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.135308.

[4]        S. Li, X. Zhang, Q. Fang, J. Zhou, M. Zhang, H. Wang, Y. Chen, B. Xu, Y. Wu, L. Qian, Y. Xu, Ginkgo biloba extract improved cognitive and neurological functions of acute ischaemic stroke: A randomised controlled trial, Stroke Vasc. Neurol. 2 (2017) 189–197. doi:10.1136/svn-2017-000104.

[5]        C.D. Gardner, R.E. Taylor-Piliae, A. Kiazand, J. Nicholus, A.J. Rigby, J.W. Farquhar, Effect of Ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) on Treadmill Walking Time Among Adults With Peripheral Artery Disease, J. Cardiopulm. Rehabil. Prev. 28 (2008) 258–265. doi:10.1097/01.HCR.0000327184.51992.b8.

[6]        T.P. Huynh, S.N. Mann, N.A. Mandal, Botanical compounds: Effects on major eye diseases, Evidence-Based Complement. Altern. Med. 2013 (2013). doi:10.1155/2013/549174.

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