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What is ginkgo biloba? What is it
Ginkgo is one of the oldest and adaptable species of trees
in existence. Ginkgo biloba trees existed before the Ice Age;
some trees even survived the atomic blast at Hiroshima in
A single ginkgo biloba tree can live as long as 1,000 years
and grow to a height of 120 feet. It has short branches with
fan-shaped lives and produces an inedible fruit (but an edible
Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) is produced from the trees
leaves. It is one of the best researched herbal medicines
on record, with more than 400 published studies conducted
on GBE. It is the most frequently prescribed herbal medicine
in Germany and France and is rapidly becoming one of the most
used herbal medicines in the U.S.
Ginkgo biloba extract increases circulation to the brain
and the extremities. It makes platelets less sticky, which
helps prevent embolisms and artherosclerosis. By increasing
blood flow to the brain, ginkgo biloba may prevent mental
deterioration and dementia in elderly patients; some small
studies have shown that GBE may slow (or even stop) the progression
of Alzheimers disease.
Because of its ability to improve circulation, GBE has been
used for a variety of vascular conditions, including Raynauds
syndrome, impotence caused by impaired blood flow, and claudication
in the legs. There is some evidence that GBE may also reduce
some symptoms of PMS, including fluid retention, congestion
and breast tenderness.
How much ginkgo biloba should I take?
Most practitioners recommend taking 120 milligrams daily,
in two or three divided doses of 50:1 extract standardized
to 24% flavone glycosides. For more serious cases of dementia
of Alzheimers, up to 240 milligrams may be taken.
What forms of ginkgo biloba are available?
Dried ginkgo biloba is available in capsule form. GBE is
also found in tinctures and fluid extracts. Make sure that
ginkgo biloba products are standardiced to contain 24% flavone
glycosides and 6% terpene lactones.
What can happen if I take too much ginkgo biloba? Are there any interactions I
should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
When taken in recommended doses, ginkgo biloba is very safe;
however, there have been isolated cases of gastrointestinal
disorders, headaches and dizziness in patients taking excess
amounts. Because it decreases the effectiveness of platelet
aggregation, it should not be taken with blood-thinning agents
such as coumadin or warfarin.
Because there is a lack of data concerning GBEs effects
during pregnancy, it should be used with caution by pregnant
and lactating women. Ginkgo biloba should not be given to
children and infants. As with all supplements, patients should
consult with a health care provider before taking ginkgo biloba.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
Bauer U. Six-month double-blind randomized clinical trial
of ginkgo biloba extract versus placebo in two parallel groups
of patients suffering from peripheral arterial insufficiency.
Castelli D, Colin L, Camel E, et al. Pretreatment of skin
with a ginkgo biloba extract/sodium carboxymethyl-b-1,3-glucan
formulation appears to inhibit the elicitation of allergic
contact dermatitis in man. Contact Dermatitis 1998;38(3):123126.
Chung KF, McCusker M, Page CP, et al. Effect of a ginkgoloide
mixture (BN52063) in antagonizing skin and platelet responses
to platelet-activating factor in man. Lancet 1987;1(1):248250.
Le Bars PL, Katz MM, Berman N, Itil TM, Freedman AM, Schatzberg
AF. A placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trial of
an extract of ginkgo biloba for dementia. JAMA 1997;278:13271332.
Ramassamy C, Christen Y, Clostre F, et al. The ginkgo biloba
extract, EGB761, increases synaptosomal uptake of 5-hydroxytryptamine
in-vitro and ex-vivo studies. J Pharm Pharmacol 1992;44:943945.