Answers For YOUR Health

      Using Mother Nature's Gifts
Common Sense and Modern Medicine

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Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba has been around for millions of years.  Pre-historic fossils have been found.  The Chinese have incorporated Ginkgo into the ancient arsenal of medicines.  Millions of people know it works but now modern research gives us the reasons why it works.

The Ginkgo extract contains flavonoids and terpene lactones. These two chemicals are responsible for its many healthful properties, the well known anti-inflammatory performance and powerful antioxidants that destroy disease-causing free radicals that roam the body.

Ginkgo can dilate blood vessels, improving blood circulation throughout the body including the brain, which is why most people use Ginkgo to improve memory. They don't even realize that this supplement is improving the circulation to the entire body.

Since Ginkgo also reduces the stickiness of blood platelets, it is useful to prevent blood clotting.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other dementias.

Some of the most exciting current research involves Ginkgo's impact on early-stage dementia.

Studies have shown that it increases cognitive function in elderly people with mild to moderate age-related memory impairment. Ginkgo Biloba improves some cognitive and social functioning -- seeming to effect about a six-month delay in disease progression, according to some researchers' observations.

(Unfortunately, Dr. Stengler says that recent studies are likely to disappoint many healthy people over age 60. The research has shown that Ginkgo does not improve normal age-related short-term memory lapses after people reach this age, although it does seem to enhance memory and cognitive functioning in younger healthy people.)

Vision impairment

Ginkgo has been shown to improve several aspects of vision, including early diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Diabetic retinopathy can develop in people who have had diabetes for many years as blood flow to the eyes becomes impaired, resulting in blurry vision and other problems. Dr. Stengler says that taking Ginkgo for six months can significantly improve color vision in these patients.

For those who have glaucoma of the normal tension type, Ginkgo seems to improve previous damage to the visual field.

Intermittent claudication

This symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD) causes serious leg pain when PAD patients walk because of decreased blood flow to the legs during exercise.

Patients taking Ginkgo were able to walk considerably further pain free than those taking a placebo, says Dr. Stengler, though he cautions that Gingko should supplement walking therapy exercise -- not replace it.

Premenstrual syndrome

When women took Ginkgo starting on the sixteenth day of their cycle and extended it five days into the next cycle, Dr. Stengler says they reported significant relief in breast tenderness and PMS-associated psychological symptoms.

Other uses:

Again, because of improvements in blood circulation, Ginkgo helps reduce the number of attacks of

  • Raynaud's syndrome,
  • erectile dysfunction and
  • eases high blood pressure.
  • altitude sickness and
  • mild depression.

Ginkgo prescription for whatever purpose is generally consistent, from 180 mg to 240 mg daily, says Dr. Stengler. People who weigh less than 150 pounds are often started on the lower dosage, but if after six or eight weeks they don't show clinical improvement, the physician may often increase the dosage at that point.

Ginkgo is usually given continuously for a period of time. There are several different types of Ginkgo on the market, but the one that Dr. Stengler recommends is a product standardized to 24% flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones. This information will be clearly marked on the label.

Side Effect from Ginkgo Biloba

You may experience side effects from Ginkgo, on occasion. Watch to see if any of these develop, says Dr. Stengler --

  • gastrointestinal upset,
  • headaches,
  • dizziness,
  • palpitations,
  • constipation or
  • allergic skin reactions.

He adds that side effects are generally mild and dosage can be reduced somewhat to see if the side effects fade, as is usually the case. If they do not go away, however, your physician should discontinue the supplement.

Also, people who are taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin for blood-thinning purposes... people who take a thiazide-type diuretic for high blood pressure... or people who will be having surgery may need to avoid Ginkgo. Check with your doctor if you are taking any drugs or supplements before taking Ginkgo.

Ginkgo continues to be the focus of much research today, which means we may be soon finding even more new ways to use this ancient remedy.



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