Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba

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Ancient history of ginkgo biloba

Among the oldest tree species in the world, the Gingko Biloba stands out, widely studied and used in medicine. The peculiarity of this tree, unique in its kind, is its origin. Born and initially widespread in China, the Gingko Biloba is actually a living fossil, survived the glaciation. The oldest fossils of this tree date back to 270 million years ago, and the oldest existing Gingko is 3,500 years old. Since its discovery it has been widely cultivated and introduced into the culture of man.
A Gingko Biloba tree can live up to 1000 years, but there are trees that last longer. Its trunk can reach a height of about 40 meters and its foliage an amplitude of 9. Its branches are provided with green leaves with the characteristic fan shape and a very long petiole. It produces a fleshy fruit inside which a seed is found, and is believed to be edible only if roasted.
The Gingko tree is dioecious, which means that there is a female tree and a male tree, both fertile. One of the most well-known peculiarities of Gingko Biloba is the strong smell that the fruits of the female tree give off, considered by many offensive. For this reason, man tends mainly to cultivate the male tree, condemning this precious species to future extinction.
The Gingko Biloba is a plant very resistant to infestations, both of parasites and of fungi, to ozone and to atmospheric pollution. For this reason it does not need poisons, and is planted along the avenues of the city since the 18th century. Another proof of its great resistance is given by its antiradioactive properties, still object of study and research. Six specimens of this species survived the atomic bomb launched on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945, and are still alive.

Research on ginkgo biloba and beneficial properties

Although Chinese herbal medicine has used both the leaf and the Gingko seed for thousands of years, specialized modern research has focused mainly on the more common "Gingko Biloba extract (GBE)". GBE is a concentrate produced with dehydrated green leaves and, compared to fresh leaves, seems to offer more benefits in the treatment of various health problems.
Over the years, over 40 components have been detected in this tree, but only three of these seem to be used in medicine: flavonoids, polyphenols and terpenes. Laboratory researches tested on animal and human subjects have shown that flavonoids and polyphenols are antioxidants. These act on the cells of the nerves, the muscles of the heart, the blood vessels and the retina, protecting them from attacks by free radicals. They are therefore also effective in the case of neuropathies caused by diabetes. Terpenes, on the other hand, dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing the viscosity of platelets, in order to prevent thrombi and emboli.
In addition to slowing down cellular aging, the in-depth study of this plant has also led to its use to combat allergies. Subjects suffering from asthmatic attacks will benefit from the vasodilatatic properties of Gingko Biloba. It is also used to combat dizziness, headaches, chilblains due to the cold, chronic auricular buzzing, and pains located at the extremities. But not only, because its beneficial properties seem to offer help and relief even to those who have cholesterol problems, suffer from hemorrhoids, and in male subjects even in the case of sexual dysfunction.

Extensive studies and use in traditional medicine

In America and Europe, food supplements based on Gingko Biloba are among the most sold drugs on the market. In France and Germany it is even among the most often prescribed medicines. In fact, Gingko is used to treat blood diseases and improve memory.
Although not everyone agrees with the results of the studies conducted, there are those who believe that Gingko can help in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and senile dementia, slowing its progression even in patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The Gingko would act directly on the nerves, protecting the cells damaged by the disease. Studies show that Gingko has a positive effect on memory and cognitive ability even in people with Alzheimer's.
In healthy subjects, regular intake of Gingko extract will improve blood flow to brain tissues, favoring oxygenation. In this way, concentration, short-term memory and cognitive ability will benefit. It is therefore highly recommended for students who at certain times of the year find it more difficult to prepare for exams.
The dry extract of Gingko Biloba can be taken daily in the form of capsules, tablets or infusions. Following the purchase, despite being a natural remedy, it is good to read the leaflet, and above all not to exceed the recommended doses (generally, between 100 and 150 mg). The treatment can last for at least two months, but it is highly discouraged to take these supplements in case of pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Furthermore, the active ingredients contained in Gingko-based food supplements may interact with other medicines you are taking, such as with anticoagulants. It is therefore advisable to seek the advice of your doctor.