By PT Staff, published on March 1, 1999 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016
The fan-shaped leaves of the ginkgo biloba, one of the world's
oldest trees,have been a mainstay of Chinese herbalist practice for
millennia, used for everything from asthma to tuberculosis. Ginkgo's
popularity is worldwide today. The main attraction: its anti-aging
properties. Studies indicate that ginkgo can help improve memory,
concentration and mood.
In 1997, the first U.S.-trial, conducted at several centers across
the country, showed that ginkgo biloba extract stabilized the condition
of patients with mild to moderate dementia and also improved their mental
functioning. The patients, who suffered from Alzheimer's or strokes,
received ginkgo for a year. In another trial, healthy seniors were found
to perform mental tasks better after receiving ginkgo.
Researchers attribute ginkgo's effects to its ability to expand
blood vessels, thus increasing blood flow through the brain. They also
theorize that compounds known as flavonoids and terpenoids play a role in
dismantling destructive free radicals that are thought to play a role in
Alzheimer's and other diseases.
Ginkgo's circulatory effects have also helped ease a condition
known as intermittent claudication, in which leg blood vessels narrow,
preventing blood from reaching muscles and making walking painful.
How to Take It: Ginkgo is recommended in a dose of 40 mg to 80 mg
three times per day of an extract standardized to 24% flavonoid
glycosides and 65% terpenoids. Expect to take the herb for at least eight
weeks before seeing an improvement in memory.
Side effects include mild stomach or intestinal upset, headache or
an allergic skin reaction. Ginkgo should not be taken with
anticoagulants, such as aspirin or warfarin. And avoid during
PHOTO (COLOR): Ginkgo: The Brain Booster