Ginkgo Biloba for Depression, Memory and Heart Problems
By Dr Jenny Tylee
Ginkgo biloba is a tree that existed for more that 100 million years - it grew in many parts of the world before the Ice Age and it survived in Asia. The ginkgo biloba tree reaches and average height of eight metres and it can live for up to 1,000 years and is highly adaptable to many different conditions. The fruit of the tree has an unpleasant odour and the pulp can cause a severe skin irritation in most people. However, the leaves and the nuts have many medicinal qualities. The tree is now cultivated all over the world for use as medicine. It is a safe and effective herb when used in prescribed doses.
There is a great deal of research that has been done and continues to be conducted on ginkgo biloba's efficacy - there are over 400 published studies and reports, as well as several books on. Over 4 million prescriptions are written for its use every year in Europe alone - the annual sales in Europe exceed $500 million. It is the most frequently prescribed herb in France and Germany.
Both the leaves and nuts are used medicinally. The nuts are edible and can also be dried. The chemistry of the nuts and leaves are similar but the quantities of the components vary a little. The combination of components gives ginkgo biloba its wide variety of healing qualities. Single components cannot be isolated and used individually - as the combination is what makes it effective.
Ginkgo biloba has many functions in the body. These include:
One of the main uses of ginkgo biloba is in improvement of the circulatory system. It has the ability to increase the blood flow through the aging blood vessels - especially the brain. The improved circulation in the brain enhances memory, mental agility, alertness and concentration. It also alleviates some forms of depression. Ginkgo biloba improves the circulation to all areas of the body - especially the extremities (hands, feet, penis) and is therefore recommended in the treatment of varicose veins, Raynaud's disease, intermittent claudication, winter hands and feet, varicose ulcers, diabetic ulcers, and end-arterial disease associated with smoking. In order to improve functioning of the brain and nervous system it is suggested that you take a combination of ginkgo biloba and multivitamin and mineral supplements (these need to include balanced B group vitamins). The amino acid Acetyl-carnitine is also suggested to improve memory and mental alertness (This amino acid is often prescribed for Alzheimer's and senile dementia). The essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 are also important for improved nerve transmission and nervous system health.
Ginkgo biloba has been shown to be effective in treating some forms of mild to moderate depression. The antidepressive effects of ginkgo biloba have been studied and in one recent study 40 elderly patients were given 80mg ginkgo biloba extract or a placebo three times per day. After 4 weeks the patients taking ginkgo biloba showed a marked reduction in the total score as measured by the Hamilton Depression Scale. The dosage for mild depression is 40 mg three times per day. Ginkgo biloba can be used with prescription antidepressants.
Ginkgo biloba is a very safe herb to use and has few side effects in long-term studies and there is no decline in its effect over time. In 44 studies, involving 9,800 patients the only side effects reported were gastrointestinal discomfort in 26 cases, headache in 7 cases and dizziness in 6 cases. These were transient and lasted a few days only. Ginkgo biloba shows no interaction with other medication and can be used with prescription drugs. Because of ginkgo's effect on blood clotting it would be wise to use less prescription anti-clotting agents such as warfarin, heparin as well as aspirin - tell your doctor and ask for your medication to be decreased. It is best to consult your health care professional if you are taking medications.
Ginkgo biloba is a valuable herb with a unique combination of chemicals which mean that is has many uses in the body. Some of these uses have been presented in this article. The range of uses is still being explored by researchers but ginkgo's effectiveness in improving circulation, brain and nervous system function, immune system and depression is well established.
Dr Jenny Tylee is an experienced health professional who is passionate about health and wellbeing. She believes that health is not just absence of disease and seeks to actively promote vitality and wellness through empowering others. She encourages those who are feeling depressed to seek help and join the Growerz depression program. Jenny also owns Health Product Site and Safe Colon Cleansing. The healthproductssite.com has vitamin, minerals and herbs which can assist with depression and safecoloncleansing.com provides information on detoxifying the body which has been shown to be beneficial in depression.
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