Ginkgo: an Herb for the Brain

by Ian Finlayson - Date: 2007-03-07 - Word Count: 354 Share This!

Ginkgo has been used in traditional medicine to treat circulatory disorders and enhance memory.

Ginkgo Biloba is perhaps the most widely currently used herbal treatment aimed at augmenting cognitive functions--that is, improving memory, learning, alertness, mood and so on. Germany recently approved the extract for treating dementia.

Modern studies have also demonstrated the significant effect that Ginkgo biloba has on the cardiovascular system, relaxing blood vessels, acting as a circulatory stimulant and anti-inflammatory. One of the most important active ingredients, ginkgolide, has been clinically shown to be just as effective as standard pharmaceutical drugs in treating irregular heart beats. Improving blood flow throughout the body, Ginkgo biloba can also reduce blood 'stickiness', which lowers the risk of blood clots.

Studies have showed that the Alzheimer's patients who received ginkgo performed better on various cognitive tests than did patients who received a placebo. Improvements were evident in standardized tests measuring attention, short-term memory and reaction time; the average extent of improvement resulting from ginkgo treatment was 10 to 20 percent

It was reported that ginkgo's effect was comparable to that of the drug donepezil, which is currently the pharmaceutical drug of choice for the treatment of Alzheimer's.

In a study in France a small group of elderly people with mild, age-related memory impairment were given a fairly high dose of Ginkgo. An hour after the treatment, the subjects' memories were tested by rapidly presenting short lists of words or drawings and then asking the patients to recall the lists immediately afterward. Their ability to recall the rapidly presented material increased significantly after ingestion of ginkgo.

This finding raises the possibility that short-term, rather than long-term, biological actions provide the basis for ginkgo's reported effects on cognition

Ginkgo should only be taken under the guidance of a knowledgeable medical professional. Taken with anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs, Ginkgo can increase the risk of bleeding. It is also possible that ginkgo might interact with certain psychiatric drugs and with certain drugs that affect blood sugar levels.

Ian Finlayson is webmaster of The Herb Spiral, a site committed to presenting no-hype information on medicinal herbs. More information on Ginkgo Biloba can be found here

Related Tags: dementia, alzheimer, ginkgo biloba, ginkgo

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