The Ginkgo Biloba tree is an incredible and unique living fossil. The species dates back 2 million years, with no known living relatives. Ginkgo can grow 130 feet tall and can live for over 1,000 years, with trees in China estimated to be over 2500 years old.
This incredible and ancient plant is also a powerful medicine, filled with flavonoids and terpenoids with strong antioxidant effects. with health benefits to the brain, eyes, vascular system, and heart health.
- Memory and Cognitive Maintenance
Preliminary research indicates that ginkgo extract helps improve and maintain working memory. For this reason, ginkgo has been studied and found to be clinically effective in the treatment of Alzheimers and some forms of dementia. Ginkgo improves blood flow to the brain and protects brain cells via the antioxidants it contains. Antioxidants help to fend off damaging free radicals which lead to premature aging and neurodegenerative disease.
But ginkgos effects on the brain are not limited to memory but have also been found to improve thinking, focus, and social function.
- Reduces Inflammation
Modern literature increasingly finds that many chronic diseases are related to chronic inflammation. Over time, this excess inflammation causes permanent damage to the body’s tissues and DNA, leading to disease. Ginkgo extract has been found to decrease this excessive inflammation and helps to reduce symptoms of a number of inflammatory conditions and chronic conditions including arthritis, irritable bowel disease (IBD), cancer, heart disease, stroke.
- Cardiovascular Health
Some research indicates that ginkgo may reduce high blood pressure. It also increases blood flow, which is thought to be caused by a 12% increase in levels of circulating nitric oxide, a compound responsible for dilating blood vessels. Ginkgo also helps to reduce risk of cardiovascular events and diseases like stroke and heart disease.
- Anxiety Reduction
This incredible plant also helps to calm the nervous system and relieve some fear-based disorders. Ginkgo also helps to relieve symptoms of anxiety. It helps to stabilize mood and relieves both cases of generalized anxiety and adjustment disorders.
- Treats Depression
Ginkgo’s effects on depression are still in the early stages of research but animal studies indicate that the plant effectively treats symptoms of this mood disorder as well. This is thought to likely be related to the plant’s ability to reduce inflammation and stress on the body. It is hypothesized that ginkgo helps to prime the body so it is more resilient and able to cope with stress.
- Vision and Eye Health
Early results are also promising in research surrounding eye health and ginkgo. Ginkgo can increase blood flow to the eye, helping to protect the cells there and even reducing retinal degeneration. Those with macular degeneration have seen some improvements in vision from administration of ginkgo. Other evidence shows the plant can improve color vision in those with diabetic retinopathy. Thus ginkgo may have a number of benefits for vision as well.
- Headaches and Migraines
Chinese medicine has long relied on ginkgo for headache and migraine relief. While little empirical evidence is available on ginkgo’s ability to treat headaches, many of the causes of headaches including stress or inflammation and reduced blood flow to the brain would likely be relieved by ginkgo. Ginkgo reduces inflammation and dilates blood vessels, which would reduce severity of both of these types of headaches.
- Improves Asthma and COPD Symptoms
Anti-inflammatory benefits of ginkgo also benefits those affected by asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Reduced inflammation helps to clear the airways and increase lung capacity, reducing symptoms of these conditions. Those with COPD who take ginkgo report lower levels of coughing and bronchitis.
- Reduces PMS Symptoms
Ginkgo may also relieve symptoms of menstruation, both physical and psychological. One study found that ginkgo resulted in a 23 percent reduction in PMS symptoms. More research is needed to understand the exact mechanism for this effect but it’s likely also related to ginkgo’s ability to reduce inflammation and balance mood.
- Treats Sexual Dysfunction
Ginkgo offers sexual health benefits for both men and women. The plant helps to relieve erectile dysfunction and increase libido, sending blood to the sexual organs and increasing nitric oxide in the blood. While more research is needed, preliminary evidence suggests that ginkgo has the ability to increase sexual function and pleasure.
While much of the research on ginkgo’s health benefits are preliminary, this powerful and ancient herb has been used successfully in chinese medicine for thousands of years. This makes it likely that empirical evidence will continue to confirm it as a major herbal medicinal aid. This unique plant is a holistic supplement for a number of conditions and an incredible medicine in promoting longevity.
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