Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is Gingko Biloba?

Ginkgo Biloba is one of the oldest living tree species, dating back over 300 million years, and individual trees can live for over 1,000 years. In China, extracts of the fruit and leaves of the ginkgo tree have been used for over 5,000 years for respiratory concerns and brain function.

Recently, western researchers have been studying Ginkgo Biloba as a control for senility, hardening of the arteries, and as a support for oxygen deprivation. More than 34 human studies on Ginkgo have been published since 1975, showing, among other things, that Ginkgo can increases the body's production of the universal energy molecule adenosine triphosphate, commonly called ATP. This activity has been shown to boost the brain's metabolism of energy-producing glucose and increase electrical activity.

Scientists have also discovered that Ginkgo contains an abundance of useful compounds including the antioxidants Vitamin C and carotenoids, but it is the flavonoid compounds collectively known as "ginkgolides" that are the most remarkable. The Ginkgo flavonoids have been shown to act specifically to dilate the smallest segment of the circulatory system, the micro-capillaries, which has a widespread affect on the circulation, especially to the brain. Researchers have also reported that Ginkgo extracts effectively increase blood circulation and increase oxygen levels in brain tissues. Ginkgo is also a powerful antioxidant that supports normal platelet aggregation inside arterial walls, helping to keep them flexible.

Ginkgo's ability to improve blood flow has been shown in numerous studies with the elderly. Aging can be associated with decreased blood flow to the lower extremities, with numbing or tingling legs common in this group. German researchers found that Ginkgo extracts improved circulation to the extremities and made it possible for patients to walk further with much less discomfort.

Ginkgo biloba extracts are considered safe and free of side effects, though taking very large doses may lead to diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, which can be controlled by reducing the amount consumed. Ginkgo can increase bleeding time. Consult a health care practitioner if you are taking any medication such as an anti-coagulant.

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