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THE HERBAL CORNER
Ginkgo Biloba
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Ginkgo Biloba is a perfect example of the marriage of folklore and modern science. Few herbal remedies better typify the vast potential of plant medicines within the standards of modern medicine. Ginkgo biloba is one of the most promising and highly studied natural botanicals. It is also one of the most commonly prescribed medicines in Germany and France and is very popular throughout the world, especially in the Orient.

In the last 30 or so years, more that 300 studies have given clinical evidence that Ginkgo may help to prevent many problems throughout the entire body. Ginkgo is gaining recognition as a brain tonic that enhances memory because of its positive effects on the vascular system, especially in the cerebellum. It is also used as a treatment for vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and a variety of neurological disorders and circulation problems. Ginkgo may help to counteract the effects of aging, including mental fatigue and lack of energy.

A sufficient daily dose of Ginkgo Biloba Extract (GBE) may provide substantial positive health effects. GBE works by increasing blood flow to the brain and throughout the body's network of blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the organ systems. It increases metabolism efficiency, regulates neurotransmitters, and boosts oxygen levels in the brain which uses 20% of the body's oxygen.

Reported benefits of enhanced circulation in the brain include improved short and long term memory, increased reaction time, and improved mental clarity. Supplements containing GBE have been given to elderly persons with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease or evidence of cerebral insufficiency. Cerebral insufficiency is a general term for a collection of symptoms that include difficulties of concentration and memory, absentmindedness, confusion, lack of energy, depressive mood, anxiety, dizziness, tinnitus, and headache. Ginkgo has also been used to relieve tension and anxiety and improve mental alertness, elevate mood, and restore energy.

GBE possesses two groups of active substances, flavonoids and terpene lactones, including ginkgolides A, B, and C, bilobalide, quercetin, and kaempferol. The ginkgolides have been shown to control allergic inflammation, anaphylactic shock, and asthma.

Ginkgo Biloba also acts as a powerful antioxidant and contributes to the oxidation of free radicals which are believed to contribute to premature aging and dementia. Antioxidants also protect the eyes, cardiovascular system, and central nervous system. Some reports indicate that the Ginkgo herb may also help control the transformation of cholesterol to plaque associated with the hardening of arteries, and relax constricted blood vessels.

Negative side effects are rare with use of the standardized GBE. Mild gastrointestinal upset occurs in less than one percent of patients in some clinical studies. Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, irritability and restlessness may occur with very large doses. Do not take if you are already on anti-coagulant medication as Ginkgo diminishes the ability for the blood to clot. We do not know of any contraindications to the use of Ginkgo during pregnancy or lactation. But, always check with your health care provider if you are unsure. Your pharmacist may be a good source for interactions and cautions.

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Please note: the information contained herein has been compiled from various sources. The above statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We make no claims, either expressed or implied, that any treatments mentioned in this newsletter will cure disease, replace prescription medication, or supersede sound medical advice.

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