Ginkgo Biloba Benefits
Ginkgo biloba has been used for thousands of years as a natural, cognitive enhancer. It is one of the most tested supplements and many of its proclaimed uses are scientifically proven. It is the most commonly taken nootropic, or brain enhancing, supplement and is used both to improve mental performance and to prevent mental decline.
- Cognitive Decline – Ginkgo biloba is an accepted way to protect against cognitive decline. It is important to note that this supplement does not prevent either condition, but it does slow the cognitive deterioration that is a symptom of these disorders.
- Sleep – Many people experience improvements in sleep efficiency while taking this supplement. Most notably, they experience fewer episodes of waking throughout the night. Research shows that this improvement results in increases in the time spent in stage 2 sleep, which is when brain waves and heart rate begin to slow, body temperature starts to drop, and the body prepares to enter deep sleep. This stage is more difficult to awaken from than the light sleep experienced in stage 1.
- Memory – Most consider the main benefit of Ginkgo biloba to be its ability to prevent the worsening of memory problems due to aging or neurodegenerative disease. However, increases also happen in both free recall and short-term memory in those 55 years and older, regardless of whether a diagnosed disorder is present.
- Antioxidant Balance – People who suffer from metabolic syndrome, a group of complaints that increase the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease, often take Ginkgo biloba to decrease that risk. This effect happens because the supplement causes the body to ramp up its production of glutathione and superoxide dismutase, both of which are antioxidants that combat metabolic syndrome. It also lowers these same enzymes in people with schizophrenia, which causes the body to produce too much of them.
- Glaucoma – Reduced ocular blood flow is one of the symptoms of this disorder. If left unchecked, it could result in permanent loss of retinal and optic nerve cells and might put the person’s vision in danger. Ginkgo biloba can increase the blood flow and preserve sight within the first couple of days it’s taken, though a loss of progress may happen when stopping the supplement.
- Atherosclerosis – Oxidation of LDL cholesterol can accelerate the process of plaque formation in the blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack. Due to its effect on the body’s antioxidant production, supplementing Ginkgo biloba can slow the buildup of plaque deposits and reduce heart attack risk.
- Subjective Well-Being – In persons who have experienced brain injury due to cancer treatment, this supplement helps to strengthen the memory. However, patients discovered an unintended secondary benefit involving mood. They also reported an increased feeling of well-being while on the supplements, though it went away when they stopped these treatments.
Ginkgo Biloba Dosage
Dosages recommended for this supplement vary from 120 to 360mg per day for adults and vary based on the issue it’s treating. The precise dose depends on the reason for which you take it. Most people split the daily dose into two to three administrations and take them with food to minimize the possibility of digestive upset.
Ginkgo Biloba Mode of Action
Ginkgo biloba contain more than 40 identified chemicals but there are only two types that are known to have medicinal purposes. These are flavonoids, which are plant-based antioxidants, and terpenoids, which increase blood flow by making blood less sticky and dilating vessels. The leaves of this tree contain as many as 20 different flavonoids. The terpenoids come in two types: ginkgolides and bilobalides.
The three most abundant flavonoids are quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin. Quercetin is a bitter, multi-ringed organic molecule that is one of the most abundant flavonoids found in most people’s diets. In addition to its being an antioxidant, it also has antitoxic and anti-allergy effects. Kaempferol is believed to possess the ability to both prevent and fight cancer. The third flavonoid is isorhamnetin. Found commonly in onions, it is thought to ease complications of diabetes and improve heart health.
Although the flavonoids do have antioxidant effects, it is the terpenoids that are thought to possess most of Ginkgo biloba’s bioactive abilities. Ginkgolides A, B, and C help to reduce inflammation by reducing blood clotting and adjusting the dilation of blood vessels. They also have immunological functions. Bilobalides seem to be most effective at nerve cell protection. It is also able to affect the production of certain liver enzymes, which might be the source of its interactions with drugs and other herbal supplements.
Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects & Toxicity
Although there are very few side effects reported for Ginkgo biloba, there are occasional complaints. These tend to involve minor gastrointestinal discomfort and are more likely at higher doses than lower ones. Rarely, users complain of headaches, dizziness, or heart palpitations with prolonged use.