Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo is probably one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in Europe. It is traditionally used to improve blood circulation, for example, cold hands and feet. Elsewhere, ginkgo is used for cognitive impairment and dementia, acute ischaemic stroke, intermittent claudication, tinnitus and age-related macular degeneration.

What Ginkgo biloba is used for:

-peripheral vascular disease commonly referred to as peripheral arterial disease . Ginkgo biloba is used for improving blood flow.

-glaucoma

A 2012 study results suggest that bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) anthocyanins and Ginkgo biloba extract may be helpful in improving visual function in some individuals with normal tension glaucoma. Normal Tension Glaucoma (NTG) is a form of open-angle glaucoma in which damages to the optic nerve and visual field are present, despite normal intraocular pressure.

Based on the reported favorable effects of anthocyanins and GBE on blood circulation and their antioxidative effects, anthocyanins and GBE are used by clinicians to treat patients with NTG and diabetic retinopathy. We think that the mechanisms of anthocyanins and GBE action are effects on blood circulation and antioxidant properties. In another study, GBE administration (160mg/day for 4 weeks) increased the mean blood flow, volume, and velocity in NTG patients.

-cerebral insufficiency

Ischaemic stroke is associated with oxidative stress and inflammatory responses in the early post-ischaemic period. Approximately 80% of strokes are ischaemic in origin. Ginkgo biloba therapy plays a potential role in reducing oxidative damage and inflammatory response in early post-ischaemic stroke patients. Ginkgo biloba extract is known to have neuroprotective properties in diseases associated with free radical generation. Extensive studies on G. biloba extracts showed their ability to protect brain neurons from oxidative stress.

-Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastative neurodegenerative disorder. Ginkgo biloba being a potential store house of antioxidants offers ample of health benefits to AD patients like antiamyloid aggregation effect. Extensive studies on Ginkgo biloba revealed that 240 mg of Ginkgo biloba per day can decrease the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

-vitiligo

Vitiligo is a common hypopigmentation disorder affecting 1-4% of the world population.  Depression, sleep disturbances, suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts, difficulties in relationships and avoidance of social situations have been reported in individuals afflicted by vitiligo before adulthood. Autoimmune, biochemical and oxidative stress, genetic, neuronal and environmental factors are thought to interact and contribute to the development of vitiligo. In a 2011 study 12 participants 12 to 35 years old were treated with 60 mg of standardized G. biloba two times per day for 12 weeks. The criteria for feasibility included successful recruitment, 75% or greater retention, effectiveness and lack of serious adverse reactions.

 

Ginkgo leaf extract appears to be safe to use, with no excess side effects. It can cause some minor side effects such as stomach upset, headache, dizziness, constipation, forceful heartbeat, and allergic skin reactions. There is some concern that ginkgo leaf extract might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding, and interactions with anticoagulants/antiplatelet drugs cannot be ruled out. As a general precaution, it is recommended withdrawing ginkgo two weeks before elective surgery.

Sources: 1. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Mar 15;11:21., 2. J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2011 Jan-Jun; 2(1): 56–61., 3.J Med Food. 2012 Sep;15(9):818-23. Epub 2012 Aug 7., 4. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2012 Apr 30;132(8):956-9., 5. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2012 May;12(2):197-205. Epub 2012 Apr 9., photo: wikimedia/Harko