GINKGO – HOW EFFECTFUL IS IT ?

Special effect on diseases and maladies

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses the seeds, leaves and roots of ginkgo biloba, which are processed and absorbed in different ways, usually in the form of ginkgo tea.

Within Western naturopathy, ginkgo is mostly used in concentrates in the form of ginkgo extracts, wrapped in a capsule, as a compact or in drop form.

Effect of ginkgo seeds

For example, the seeds are used for asthma, coughs, alcoholism, tuberculosis, mucosal inflammation, circulatory problems, encouraging sperm promotion, against cancer, worm infestation, fever, excessive sweating, kidney disease and bladder infections.

 

Effect of ginkgo leaves and root

The effect of the leaves is attributable mainly to the two active ingredient groups, flavonoids and terpenoids.

Ginkgo leaf extracts, for example, are used to optimise brain function, wounds, and the root causes of stomach discomfort, hyperactivity, arthritis and menstrual problems. For this purpose, a ginkgo tea from the components of the ginkgo plant is usually consumed.

The following conditions are mainly treated with ginkgo within TCM:

-                       asthma

-                       cough

-                       immune deficiency

-                       kidney diseases

-                       bronchitis

-                       allergies

-                       gonorrhoea

-                       cough

-                       tuberculosis

-                       skin diseases

-                       bladder infection

-                       irritable bladder

-                       tuberculosis

-                       mucosal inflammation

-                       arthritis

-                       premenstrual syndrome

-                       hyperactivity 

-                       blennorrhoea

-                       vaginal fluid

-                      menstrual problems

-                       decreased sperm production

-                       stomach problems

-                       consequences of diabetes

-                       prevention of burnout

-                       restlessness

-                       diarrhoea (diarrhoea)

-                       fever

-                       libido problems

-                       gastritis 

-                       cancer

-                       consequences of alcoholism

-                       phlebitis 

-                       general strengthening of Chi

 

Focused use of ginkgo in Western naturopathy

Here we have Dr. Willmar Schwabe to thank for the ‘EGb-761’, a concentrate obtained from ginkgo leaves which has been the subject of numerous Western studies since 1965.

Ginkgo biloba is used in:

-                          circulatory disorders

-                          improvement of blood fluidity

-                          high blood pressure (high blood pressure)

-                          cardiovascular diseases (protection against heart attack and stroke )

-                          consequences of stroke

-                          brain oedema

-                          thrombosis

-                          claudication

-                          smoker’s leg

-                          atherosclerosis (vascular calcification)

-                          forgetfulness

-                          dementia

-                          difficulty concentrating

-                          loss of memory and learning ability

-                          Alzheimer’s

-                          multiple sclerosis (MS)

-                          senility

-                          macular degeneration 

-                          migraines

-                          bronchitis

-                          asthma

-                          depression

-                          wound healing

-                          frostbite

-                          varicose veins

-                          oedema

-                          blurred vision

-                          stomach problems

-                          potency problems

-                          chronic fatigue

-                          attention deficit

-                          hyperactivity

-                          ADHD

-                          Parkinson’s

-                          vitiligo

-                          worm infestation

-                          dizziness

-                          kidney diseases

-                          tinnitus

-                          night blindness

-                          glaucoma

-               as a cosmetic

 

 

Effect of ginkgo on circulatory disorders

Circulatory disorders are ginkgo’s main field of action and are, at the same time, the main reason for the effect against numerous diseases and conditions which are directly or indirectly related to circulatory problems. Ginkgo optimises both the cerebral circulation (in the brain) as well as the peripheral circulation (limbs) and other organs (such as heart, middle and inner ear, etc.).

By acting on the metabolism of the vessel wall, ginkgo extracts expand the smallest and medium-sized blood vessels, thus improving blood flow.

Furthermore, the fluidity of the blood and the microcirculation is improved by the fact that ginkgo actively inhibits the platelet activating factor (PAF), whereby platelets stick/clump, which otherwise can cause a blockage in the smallest blood vessels.

The antioxidant effect of ginkgo means that the blood cell membranes of the leukocytes and erythrocytes remain more flexible and the blood can thus pass through the narrowest parts of the blood vessels more easily.

In summary, ginkgo has a positive influence on the following blood parameters:[1]

-                       viscosity of blood plasma

-                       viscosity of whole blood

-                       PAF (platelet activating factor)

-                       mobility of blood cells

-                       fibrinogen values

These effects on the bloodstream result in the following benefits:[2]

-                        Ginkgo prevents infarction, thrombosis, embolism, oedema, tissue damage due to oxygen deficiency, dysfunction of all tissue forms and organs, and cell death.

-                        In this way, ginkgo improves the performance of the brain, the entire body including all organs, blood circulation, oxygen supply and the removal of metabolic waste.

-                        Ginkgo protects and promotes the brain and nerve cells.

-                        Ginkgo protects against susceptibility to oxygen deficiency (hypoxia tolerance is increased).

Effect of ginkgo tea against high blood pressure

Ginkgo has a hypotensive, or, strictly speaking, a blood pressure-regulating effect! It relaxes and dilates blood vessels, inhibits blood clotting (PAF) and keeps blood cells flexible, allowing blood to flow better and lowering high blood pressure.

Furthermore, ginkgo, as an antioxidant, counteracts the oxidation that is the prerequisite for LDL cholesterol to be harmful to blood vessel walls. In comparative studies from 1972, ginkgo extracts easily matched the usual vasodilation drugs, and the researchers even rated the effect of ginkgo as more constant, and completely without side effects! Ginkgo tea is particularly suitable here because of the flavonoids dissolved in it.[3]

Effect on cardiovascular diseases

It is mainly the blood-thinning and antioxidant mechanisms of ginkgo biloba that have a positive impact on cardiovascular diseases. Atherosclerosis (vascular calcification) is caused by the oxidation of LDL cholesterol which is deposited on the intima (inner wall of the blood vessels). This results in numerous cardiovascular diseases, and according to conventional medicine, atherosclerosis is the main cause of heart attacks and strokes.

The antioxidants contained in ginkgo prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol; at the same time, the blood is diluted, meaning more oxygen can be transported to where it is needed. The cause of heart attacks and strokes as well as other cardiovascular diseases is prevented. Ginkgo is therefore suitable both as a part of therapy and preventively to avoid heart attacks.

Protective effect of ginkgo extracts before or after a stroke

Strokes can have several causes: They can be caused by a burst blood vessel or (usually) a clogged blood vessel in the brain. Oxygen deficiency, as it occurs during a stroke, leads to oxidative stress with resulting brain cell destruction. After 20 to 30 seconds, the first brain cells die off. Apparently, ginkgo extracts can protect against the consequences of this dreaded lack of oxygen by increasing the tolerance to so-called hypoxia (the lack of oxygen). Thus, the survival time in animal experiments with ginkgo extracts increased by a factor of 6!

In another animal experiment at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the intake of gingko reduced the sequelae of an artificially induced stroke by 48 % and loss of brain function by 51 % compared to the control group.

The scientists explained that this was down to the increase in the enzyme HO1, which acts as a strong radical scavenger and thus prevents brain damage. However, according to the latest findings, the active ingredient bilobalide contained in ginkgo biloba contributes to keeping brain cells alive for prolonged periods despite a shortage of oxygen; here, the tolerance time can be increased by 20 %.[4] 

The role of ginkgo as a repair promoter within all human tissue forms that have suffered damage due to a lack of blood flow is also undisputed. The hypoxia-tolerant, nootropic and circulation-promoting effect can significantly reduce the consequences of a stroke. Immediately after a stroke which has come about due to a broken capillary, the use of ginkgo can be counterproductive, since the bleeding must be stopped as fast as possible.

It is therefore necessary to check the cause of the stroke beforehand!

Protective effect against cerebral oedema

Cerebral oedema (in the form of water retention in the brain) can be caused by numerous affects and diseases, such as tumours, inflammation, arterial degeneration and hypoxia. The oedema exerts pressure on the finest capillaries in the brain, thus preventing the supply of oxygen and nutrients. In animal experiments, the development of externally provoked cerebral oedema was successfully prevented by ginkgo extracts; here, too, the inhibition of PAF plays a central role.

This is how ginkgo works on oedema

Ginkgo biloba is not only effective for cerebral oedema, but also for other oedemas that may develop after an injury. By preventing blood clumping, the PAF, gingko prevents the tendency for oedema to form.

Effect on intermittent claudication and smoker's leg

The so-called intermittent claudication is manifested by a narrowing of the arteries in the legs and forced walking pauses due to increased tingling and convulsive pain in the calves. In German, it is known as Schaufensterkrankheit (‘shop window disease’) because the sufferers often stop and look at the shop windows to ‘explain’ their stopping.

The reason for the constriction of the blood vessels is atherosclerosis, blood vessel calcification, which often results from diabetes mellitus and lipid metabolism problems, but also from the unhealthy lifestyle of smokers. Since ginkgo is known to improve circulation in body tissue and also to counteract atherosclerosis, it can be very helpful against intermittent claudication. The first signs of improvement are evident after six weeks of taking ginkgo preparations.

Also, in several studies on intermittent claudication, ginkgo extracts have been found to be equal or superior to common drugs, but without side effects. 120-160 mg is recommended, distributed over three doses.[5]

How ginkgo works against thrombosis

By actively counteracting the platelet-activating factor (PAF), ginkgo prevents platelets from sticking to one another and thus blood clots and the development of thromboses.

Effect on dizziness

Dizziness manifests itself as a spacial-awareness disorder; your vision turns dark, you stagger, everything revolves around you. The main reason for dizziness is a circulatory disorder in various brain regions and sensory organs. Ginkgo biloba extracts can provide relief without side effects due to the circulation-enhancing effect and are worth a try in any case!

Effect on bronchitis

The effect of ginkgo on bronchitis and coughs is due to its antibiotic properties. This is where the ginkgo seeds stand out.



[1] Peter Köhler: Die Heilkraft des Ginkgo. Natürlich gesund von Kopf bis Fuß (‘The Healing Power of Ginkgo. Naturally Healthy from Head to Toe’), 1998, p. 91 

[2] Peter Köhler: Die Heilkraft des Ginkgo. Natürlich gesund von Kopf bis Fuß (‘The Healing Power of Ginkgo. Naturally Healthy from Head to Toe’), 1998, p. 91 f.

[3] Dr. Jörg Zittlau: Heilmittel Ginkgo – alles über die positive Wirkung auf Körper, Geist und Seele (‘Remedy Ginkgo – Everything about the Positive Effect on Body, Mind and Soul’) 2006, p. 53

[4] Peter Köhler: Die Heilkraft des Ginkgo. Natürlich gesund von Kopf bis Fuß (‘The Healing Power of Ginkgo. Naturally Healthy from Head to Toe’), 1998, p. 94

 

[5] Dr. Jörg Zittlau: Heilmittel Ginkgo – alles über die positive Wirkung auf Körper, Geist und Seele (‘Remedy Ginkgo – Everything about the Positive Effect on Body, Mind and Soul’) 2006, p. 73

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