Edited by: Donald Brown, N.D.
Common Uses: Memory Loss Associated with Aging, Early Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, Poor Circulation to the Extremities, Long-Term Recovery from a Stroke, Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears) Importence
Active Constituents: Ginkgo flavone glycosides (bioflavonoids) and terpene lactones-ginkgolides and bilobalide.
Recommended Use: Standardized extract containing 24% ginkgo flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactone-120 to 240 mg daily in two or three equally divided dosages.
Side Effects: Side effects are rare with use of the standardized extract. Mild gastrointestinal upset occurs in less than 1% of patients in clinical studies. Some patients with poor blood flow to the brain (i.e. cerebrovascular insufficiency) may experience a mild, temporary headache for the first two of three days of use.
Contraindications:The current German Commission E monograph lists no contraindications to use of ginkgo during pregnancy or lactation. There are no known interactions with commonly prescribed drugs.
Plant Facts: Ginkgo biloba is the world’s oldest living species of tree, the sole survivor of the Ginkoaceae family whose fossil record dates back more than 200 million years. Ginkgo trees live as long as 1,000 years and may grow to a height of 100 to 122 feet. Ginkgo has characteristic fan-shaped leaves that are typically bi-lobed. Ginkgo is occasionally referred to as "maidenhair tree." Modern medicinal extracts of ginkgo employ the leaves of the cultivated trees.
History: Once widespread in North America and Europe, ginkgo was destroyed in many regions during the Ice Age, surviving only in China, where it was later cultivated as a sacred tree. Ginkgo made its return to America in 1784 on the estate of William Hamilton near Philadelphia. Today, ginkgo is planted widely in the United States, both for its ornamental value and because of its ability to resist insects and pollution.
Use of ginkgo medicinally can be traced back almost 5,000 years to the origins of Chinese herbal medicine. Ginkgo was first introduced by Chen Noung (2767-2687 BC) in the first pharmacopoeia, Chen Noung Pen T’sao. Ginkgo was recommended for respiratory ailments as well as memory loss in the elderly.
Modern pharmacological research into the medicinal aspects of ginkgo leaves began in the late 1950s. Spearheaded by a prominent phytomedicine company in Germany, years of research resulted in a standardized concentrated extract of ginkgo leaves. The 27-step extraction process requires fifty pounds of the leaves to yield one pound of the extract and takes up to two weeks to complete.
With over 400 published studies and reports to its credit, Ginkgo biloba Extract (GBE) is the most frequently prescribed herbal medicine worldwide.
Active Constituents: Most critical to the extraction process and the final product is the proper balance of two groups
of active components: the ginkgo flavone glycosides and the terpene lactones. The 24% ginkgo flavone glycoside content of GBE constitutes a carefully measured balance of three bioflavonoids known as quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin. This group of constituents is primarily responsible for GBE’s antioxidant activity and ability to inhibit platelet aggregation (stickiness)-both factors in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
The group of constituents most unique to GBE, however, are the terpene<