During the health craze of the last few years, many have noted the health properties of ginkgo biloba, or maidenhair, a tree that has grown for thousands of years in the rural countryside of China. The only remaining member of an ancient order of plants, ginkgo biloba is a living fossil that can improve your life in a number of ways. Here are twelve ways in which ginkgo biloba will help you be healthy and virile.
Ginkgo possesses an impressive amount of flavonoids and terpenoids, compounds that produce strong antioxidant effects such as combating and neutralizing free radicals and foreign invaders within your body. Eliminating these free radicals can help protect your cells and ward off certain diseases. While research is uncertain about how the effect works and to what extent, ginkgo could be used in the future as a form of “disease repellent.”
Inflammation is a naturally occurring process but there are certain foods which can trigger an excess of this bodily function. Chronic inflammation is known to cause other diseases and increases the risk of such maladies as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Ginkgo has been tested for years to determine its effects on inflammation and the results are promising; in both human and animal tests, ginkgo decreased markers of inflammation during phases of different diseases.
Improves Circulation and Heart Health
Traditionally, ginkgo seeds have been used to increase one’s natural energy and improve the health of different organ systems including the kidneys, liver, brain, and lungs. In recent times, researchers have discovered these properties can probably be attributed to ginkgo’s ability to increased blood flow throughout the body. Even in those with heart disease, ginkgo increased blood flow and directly led to a twelve percent increase in levels of circulating nitric oxide, a compound which helps dilate blood vessels.
Reduces Symptoms of Psychiatric Disorders
Recently, ginkgo has been lauded for its ability to reduce anxiety, stress, and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Though research is minimal, some studies suggest ginkgo could be used to treat dementia and other cognitive impairments in the future. A meta review of twenty-one studies conclusively demonstrated ginkgo’s positive effects on patients with mild Alzheimer’s.
Improves Brain Function
In addition to healing and increasing cognitive ability, there’s been speculation that ginkgo may also aid general brain function. There are several small studies which point to the idea that supplementing with ginkgo could enhance mental performance and perception of mental and physical health. Results from these studies have linked ginkgo to improved memory, focus, and attention span.
Recent research has indicated that supplementing ginkgo can also reduce symptoms of anxiety. A small number of studies with animals have shown anxiety decreases when ginkgo is ingested, and researchers believe this is due to the antioxidants found within the plant. In a study of 170 people, those treated with ginkgo as opposed to 480 mg of placebo showed a 45% reduction in symptoms of anxiety.
Although only used in animal trials thus far, ginkgo has been shown to treat depression and its symptoms. Mice who were given ginkgo and then made to perform a stressful situation experienced reduced stress than those given another supplement or nothing. Ginkgo’s ability to reduce inflammation is thought to effect depression, as some researchers believe inflammation plays a crucial role in the disease.
Supports Vision and Eye Health
Though the sample size is small, preliminary experiments into the effect ginkgo has on eye and vision health are promising. One review showed increased blow flow to the eye in those with glaucoma while another showed improvements in vision with those who have age-related macular degeneration. Though the results were not as consistent as some had hoped, the data we have points to the potential of ginkgo to be used for those with ocular maladies.
Treats Headaches and Migraines
Historically, ginkgo was a popular treatment for headaches and migraines, particularly in Chinese culture. This healing of the mind’s aches is once again attributed to ginkgo’s power as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. If the underlying cause of the headache is related to blood flow, ginkgo’s ability to dilate blood vessels is also useful.
Improves Asthma and COPD Symptoms
The anti-inflammatory properties of ginkgo may also lead to reduced asthma and COPD symptoms. One study brought in one-hundred participants who were given a formula of various Chinese herbs, including ginkgo. Those who used the formula showed a dramatic drop in their coughs and bronchitis at a three-month follow up compared to the control group.
Reduces PMS Symptoms
The research on this area of ginkgo’s properties is also light, but early-stage research points to promising results. A study of eighty-five college students demonstrated a 23% reduction in PMS symptoms of those consuming ginkgo during the study. The control group also showed reduced signs of symptoms, but only 8% as opposed to the ginkgo group’s 23%. More research is being conducted to find a firmer casual relationship between ginkgo and PMS-symptom reduction.
Treats Sexual Dysfunction
In addition to women’s issues, ginkgo might also treat sexual dysfunction in men, such as erectile dysfunction or low libido. This is again due to the increased blood flow of those who ingest ginkgo, as the nitric oxide in the plant helps blood flow throughout the body. Although ginkgo can naturally increase sex drive, it was no more effective than placebo in mending sexual dysfunction in those because of their use of SSRIs, or antidepressant drugs.
A world of possibilities is opening up because of the ginkgo plant. While there are many healing properties researches are trying to understand, and many more that have yet to be found, the plant could be used in a wide variety of medications within the coming years.