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 Herbal Materia Medica: Ginkgo Biloba 
 
An abundance of research has been undertaken on this ancient plant, revealing a wide range of profound and important therapeutic effects. They can be grouped into cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic effects. Here we shall focus on the cardiovascular indications. Please refer to the sections on the nervous system and immune support for a review of the rest of Ginkgo's uses.

Laboratory research on Ginkgo's cardiovascular effects

  • in one test, microscopic particles were injected into the carotid artery of rats, mimicing arterial blockage. Ginkgo protected the unfortunate animals from the destructive effects.
  • increased levels of glucose and ATP were found, thus helping to maintain energy levels within individual cells.
  • it reduced the tendency for thrombus formation in veins and arteries, suggesting a use in the prevention of coronary thrombosis and in recovery from strokes and heart attacks.
  • following injections there may be a hypertensive response, damaging the blood-brain barrier. Initially only small molecules pass the barrier, but eventually larger substances cross over causing cerebral edema. Ginkgo used in the initial stages prevents the later stages developing. Stabilizing the membranes of the blood-brain barrier which are thought to involve a direct impact on ionic balance across the membranes and an indirect effect on intracellular respiration, lessening cerebral edema and restoring function.
Clinical research
  • Patients with organic and neurological angiopathy were observed for physiological changes resulting from exercise, after using Ginkgo. Results indicate it would be useful in central and peripheral vascular disease, including diabetic angiopathy.
    • it lowered blood pressure and dilated peripheral blood vessels, in patients recovering from thrombosis.
    • microcirculation in the conjunctiva of patients with disturbances in cerebral blood supply consistently increased. Capillary and venous blood flow to the head increased because of decreased resistance to flow occurred. A toning action occurs as it eases venular spasms that often occur in elderly and arteriosclerotic patients. The herb can combat both vascular spasm and restore tone and circulation in areas subject to vasomotor paralysis.
    • it increases peripheral blood flow with no lessening of cerebral circulation. Chemical vaso-dilators accumulate in the expanded vessels rather than circulate to the veins that feed the central nervous system. Ginkgo, however, increasing blood flow to both the periphery and the brain.
    • in patients with peripheral arterial insufficiency improvement in all experimental measures, including the ability to walk without pain and blood flow to the legs.
    • in Parkinson's disease secondary to cerebral arteriosclerosis, the herb increased blood supply to the brain.
    • 65% successful treatment of focal or diffuse cerebral vascular disease.
    • 80% successful treatment of cerebral circulatory insufficiency, measured as improvement in mental functioning, EEG parameters, and cerebral angiogram.
    • 80% success rate in patients with chronic cerebral insufficiency measured by symptoms such as vertigo, headache.
    • 92% success rate in patients with cerebrovascular insufficiency and all pathological findings disappeared after 18 days of treatment.
    • 80% success in treating headache and lesser per cent success in case of migraine.
    • 40% success in elderly patients with arterial insufficiency of lower limbs.
    • 72% success in the treatment of chronic vasculopathies.
    • successful treatment of chronic arterial obliteration.
Therapeutic Uses
Ginkgo has wide application for treating various forms of vascular and neurological disease. It has been recommended for:
  • vertigo, headache, tinnitus, inner ear disturbances including partial deafness
  • impairment of memory and ability to concentrate
  • diminished intellectual capacity and alertness as a result of insufficient circulation
  • anxiety, depression, neurological disorders : complications of stroke and skull injuries
  • diminished sight and hearing ability due to vascular insufficiency
  • intermittent claudication as a result of arterial obstruction
  • a sensitivity to cold and pallor in the toes due to peripheral circulatory insufficiency
  • Raynaud's disease: cerebral vascular and nutritional insufficiency
  • hormonal and neural based disorders as well as angiopathic trophic disorders
  • arterial circulatory disturbances due to aging, diabetes and nicotine abuse
  • sclerosis of cerebral arteries with and without mental manifestations
  • arteriosclerotic angiopathy of lower limbs
  • diabetic tissue damage with danger of gangrene : chronic arterial obliteration
  • circulatory disorders of the skin, as well as ulcerations caused by ischaemia.
Constituents
acacetin
acenapthene
acetic-acid
afzelin
alanine
amentoflavone
g-aminobutyric-acid
anacardic-acid
apigenin
arabinose
arginine
ascorbic-acid
ash
asparagine
aspartic-acid
betulaprenols
bilobalide
bilobanone
bilobetin
bilobol
butyric-acid
calcium
calcium-oxalate
caproic-acid
caprylic-acid
carbohydrates
cardanol
cardol
beta-carotene
d-catechin
ceryl-alcohol tw
citric-acid
copper
p-coumaric-acid
p-cymene
cysteine
cystine
-(e)-dihydroatlantone jsg
-(z)-dihydroatlantone jsg
-dimethyl--diiso-propylbenzene
dna - fl(male)
docosanol
elemol
l-epicatechin
l-epigallocatechin
alpha-ethyllathosterol
beta-eudesmol
gamma-eudesmol
fat
fiber
formic-acid
uctose
gadoleic-acid
galactose
d-gallocatechin
ginkgetin
ginkgol
ginkgolic-acid
ginkgolide-a
ginkgolide-acid
ginkgolide-b
ginkgolide-c
ginkgolide-m
ginnol
ginnon
d-glucaric-acid
glucomannan
glucose
glutamic-acid
glycine
-heptacosanol
hexacosanol
alpha-hexenal
histidine
homoserine
hydroginkgolic-acid
-hydroxyanacardic-acid
-hydroxyginkgolic-acid
-hydroxykynurenic-acid
alpha-ionone
beta-ionone
ipuranol
iron
isoginkgetin
isoleucine
-isopropylphenol
isorhamnetin
kaempferol
kaempferol--o-alpha('''-p-coumaroyl-glucosyl-beta--rhamnoside)
kaempferol--rhamno-glucoside
kaempferol--rutinoside
leucine
trans-linalool-oxide
linoleic-acid
alpha-linolenic-acid
luteolin
lysine
magnesium
manganese
mannan
mannose
methionine
'-methoxybilobetin
'-methoxypyridoxine
'-o-methylmyricetin--rutinoside
myristic-acid
niacin
nonacosane
-nonacosanol
-nonacosanol
octacosanol
oleic-acid
-(e)--oxo-dihydroatlantone
palmitic-acid
palmitoleic-acid
pantothenic-acid
-(pentadec--enyl)--di-hydroxybenzoic-acid
zz'-(-pentadien--diyl)diphenol
pentosans
pentosans
phenylalanine
phosphorus
pinitol
pulnin
tassium
procyanidin
prodelphinidin
proline
propionic-acid
protein
quercetin
quercetin--o-alpha('''-p-coumaroyl-glucosyl-beta--rhamnoside)
quercetin--rhamnoglucoside
quercetin--rutinoside
quinic-acid
raffinose
raffinose
riboflavin
sciadopitysin
sequoyitol
serine
alpha-sesamin
shikimic-acid
sitosterol
sodium
spinasterol
starch
stearic-acid
stigmasterol
succinic-acid
sucrose
sucrose
tannin
thiamin
threonine
thymol
p-tolyl-propylene
tricetin
-trimethyl-dihydronaphthalene
tryptophan
tyrosine
uroshiols
valerianic-acid
valine
wax
xylose
zinc


Citations from the Medline database for the genus Ginkgo

Agnoli A.

Clinical and psychometric aspects of the therapeutic effects of GBE.

In: Effects of GBE and Organic Cerebral Impairment, Paris, London, John Lilley, 1985.

Allain H Raoul P Lieury A LeCoz F Gandon JM d'Arbigny P

Effect of two doses of ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) on the dual- coding test in elderly subjects.

In: Clin Ther (1993 May-Jun) 15(3):549-58

The subjects of this double-blind study were 18 elderly men and women (mean age, 69.3 years) with slight age-related memory impairment. In a crossover-study design, each subject received placebo or an extract of Ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) (320 mg or 600 mg) 1 hour before performing a dual-coding test that measures the speed of information processing; the test consists of several coding series of drawings and words presented at decreasing times of 1920, 960, 480, 240, and 120 ms. The dual-coding phenomenon (a break point between coding verbal material and images) was demonstrated in all the tests. After placebo, the break point was observed at 960 ms and dual coding beginning at 1920 ms. After each dose of the ginkgo extract, the break point (at 480 ms) and dual coding (at 960 ms) were significantly shifted toward a shorter presentation time, indicating an improvement in the speed of information processing.

Allard M

Treatment of the disorders of aging with Ginkgo biloba extract. From pharmacology to clinical medicine

In: PRESSE MED 1986 Sep 25; 15(31):1540-5 (Published in FRENCH)

Ginkgo biloba extract is prescribed in psychic and behavioural disorders of the elderly, in peripheral vascular deficiency and in functional disorders of ischaemic origin in the E.N.T. and eye areas. Numerous controlled clinical trials justify these prescriptions and are in agreement with the pharmacological data currently available. Experimentally, Ginkgo biloba extract has proved active on the circulatory and rheological functions, on neuronal metabolism threatened by ischaemia or hypoxia, on neurotransmission and on membrane lesions caused by free oxygenated radicals. Concerning Alzheimer's disease and dementia, no firm conclusion can be drawn for the time being due to the lack of animal model. However, experimental data suggest that the product may act on a number of major elements of these diseases. From what is already known about Ginkgo biloba extract, it appears that it fulfills the conditions laid down by the W.H.O. concerning the development of drugs effective against cerebral ageing.

Apaydin C Oguz Y Agar A Yargicoglu P Demir N Aksu G

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
 
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