What is Ginkgo Biloba & How Does it Work?
What is Ginkgo Biloba?
Ginkgo Biloba is a best-selling herbal supplement in the Europe and United States. Ginkgo Biloba is actually oldest living tree species and has been in use for centuries in treating memory problems and blood disorders. It is very beneficial in keeping memory sharp and is an antioxidant. Children should not use or take gingko Biloba.
Gingko Biloba is also known by the names of Kew tree, Fossil tree and Maiden hair tree.
What is Gingko Biloba Made of?
There are more than 40 components in Ginkgo Biloba, out of which 2, that is terpenoids and flavonoids, are thought to have medicinal properties. Terpenoids dilate the blood vessels, which will improve the blood circulation by decreasing the stickiness of platelets. Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants and help in protecting the heart muscle, nerves, retina and blood vessels from damage.
How Does Ginkgo Biloba Work?
Ginkgo Biloba leaves contain antioxidants terpenoids and flavonoids. As a person ages, there is build up of free radicals in the body, which can contribute to cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease. The antioxidants present in Ginkgo Biloba help in fighting off the free radicals and prevents them from damaging DNA and other cells.
According to research, Ginkgo Biloba dilates blood vessels and improves blood circulation. Hence, it can also be beneficial for vein and eye health. Ginkgo Biloba helps in the treatment of Alzheimer disease, dementia and intermittent claudication.
Ginkgo Biloba- The Tree
Ginkgo Biloba is the oldest living species of tree. A single tree of Ginkgo Biloba can live up to 1,000 years or more and can also grow into a height of about 120 feet. The tree of Ginkgo Biloba has short branches, which has fan-shaped leaves and bad smelling inedible fruits. There is a seed present in the fruit, which can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities for a long time. Ginkgo Bilobas are strong and tough trees. The leaves of Ginkgo Biloba turn a brilliant color in the fall season.
What is the Standard Dosage of Gingko Biloba?
Alzheimer's disease & Dementia: Daily intake of 120 to 240 mg of Gingko Biloba in divided doses is recommended.
Intermittent Claudication: Daily dose of 120 to 240 mg of Gingko Biloba is recommended.
Always consult your doctor to help find the right dose for you. It can take around 4 to 6 weeks for the patient to experience any benefits from Ginkgo Biloba.
What are the Available Forms of Gingko Biloba?
Standardized extracts of Gingko Biloba contain about 5 to 12% of terpenoids (triterpene lactones) and about 25 to 33% of flavonoids (heterosides or flavone glycosides). Gingko Biloba is available in the form of Tablets, Capsules, Liquid extracts (fluid extract, tinctures, and glycerites) and in the form of dried leaves to drink as tea.
Interactions of Ginkgo Biloba with Medications
Ginkgo Biloba can interact with non-prescription and prescription medications. If you are taking any of the following medications, you should not use Ginkgo without talking to your doctor first.
Antidepressants: If Ginkgo Biloba is taken with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are a type of antidepressant, then it increases the risk of serotonin syndrome, which is a life-threatening condition. Ginkgo Biloba also can strengthen the good effects as well as the bad effects of MAOIs, which are also a type of antidepressant. Possible interactions of Gingko Biloba can occur with the following antidepressants: escitalopram, citalopram, fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, sertraline and paroxetine.
Medications Broken Down by the Liver: There can be interaction between Ginkgo Biloba and medications, which are processed via liver. The liver breaks down most of the medications, so before starting Ginkgo Biloba, it is important to consult your physician if you are taking any prescription medications.
Anticonvulsants: These are seizure medications. High doses of Ginkgo Biloba can potentially interfere with the effectiveness of anticonvulsants.
Anti-Anxiety Medication: Alprazolam is an anti-anxiety medication and taking Ginkgo Biloba with this medicine can possibly interfere and lessen effectiveness, of this medicine as well as other medicines that are taken for anxiety.
Blood-Thinning Medications: There is thought to be an increased risk of bleeding with Ginkgo Biloba, especially if the patient is also taking blood-thinners, such as clopidogrel, warfarin and aspirin.
Antihypertensive Medications: These are medications used for high blood pressure. Ginkgo Biloba can lower the blood pressure and taking Ginkgo Biloba with antihypertensive medications can further decrease the blood pressure.
Medications for Diabetes: Ginkgo Biloba can decrease or increase the blood sugar levels and insulin levels. Patients with diabetes should not take Ginkgo Biloba without consulting with their doctor.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, taken with Ginkgo Biloba can increase the risk of bleeding. There have been reports of bleeding in the brain with the use of Ginkgo Biloba with ibuprofen.
Cyclosporine: This is an immunosuppressant medicine and Gingko Biloba can interfere with the effectiveness of this medicine.
Water Pills: Taking Thiazide diuretics with Gingko Biloba can increase the blood pressure.
Gingko Biloba Used in Cooking
There are nut-like gametophytes present within the seeds of Gingko Biloba, which are especially used in Asia. They are also used in traditional Chinese food. In Chinese culture, they are thought to have aphrodisiac qualities along with health benefits. The nuts of Ginkgo Biloba are used in preparation of Congee, which is a type of rice porridge popular in Asia and served on special occasions. The Japanese cooks use the ginkgo seeds known as ginnan in dishes such as chawanmushi, which is an egg custard dish. The cooked seeds of gingko Biloba are also eaten with other dishes. However, if the gingko Biloba seeds are consumed for prolonged period of time or in large quantities, then the gametophyte, which is the meat of the gingko seed, can cause convulsions or poisoning.
Sarcotesta is the outer fleshy coat of the Gingko Biloba seed. Some individuals can be sensitive to the chemicals present in it and they should be careful handling the seeds when preparing them for consumption by wearing disposable gloves. Symptoms of sensitivity include contact dermatitis or blisters.