Deborah Messecar, Ph.D., R.N.
I read in an article that ginkgo biloba reverses aging. Is
Ginkgo biloba is an herb that has received acclaim as a
memory enhancer and anti-aging product. It's now among the ten
most popular dietary supplements sold in the United States.
Although it has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine
for lung disorders, ginkgo extract has more recently been used
in Europe and North America against the symptoms of aging. It
is believed to stimulate circulation and oxygen flow to the
brain, which can improve problem-solving and enhance memory.
Effects of ginkgo
May increase blood flow in cerebrovascular disease
May improve poor circulation in the limbs
Improves memory and alertness
Improves communication, orientation and mobility
Improves symptoms of vertigo and tinnitus
In a group of older people with mobility problems, ginkgo
improved pain-free walking distance by as much as 30 percent.
Long-term ginkgo use appears to reduce cardiovascular risks.
It has also been shown to improve the cognitive function of
Alzheimer's Disease patients.
Differences in the production, labeling and marketing of
this extract make it essential that consumers scrutinize the
products they buy in order to maximize positive benefits while
Editor's Note: Our ginkgo products fully comply with
Before purchasing a product, you should inspect the label.
Manufacturers are now required to label their products with
nutritional labeling that lists ingredients in descending
order. Look for information on the label that indicates that a
standardized extract of 24 percent ginkgo flavonglycosides and
6 percent terpenes has been used to prepare the product. The
flavonoids are antioxidants. Both flavonoids and terpenes are
believed to help protect brain function. Because herbal
medicines are made from crude extracts of plants, look to see
if there is any indication that the manufacturing process has
removed any pesticides that may have been used in the plant
cultivation. In addition, the product should have an
Don't expect to feel it right away. It may be several weeks
before any effect will be noticeable. Many people also believe
that it's a good idea to give the body a rest periodically by
taking some time off from using the extract, for example, by
taking one month off after six months of use.
It is also important to be aware that herbal medicines can
have drug interactions with other herbal preparations you may
be taking, or with other over the counter or prescription
medicines. For this reason, you should consult with your
physician or pharmacist before taking any herbal preparation.
For example, ginkgo diminishes the blood's ability to clot. It
should definitely not be taken with anticoagulants such as
coumadin or aspirin. With very large doses, side effects of
ginkgo can include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, irritability
The American Botanical Council has recently published the
Complete German Commission E Monographs, which describe the
potential therapeutic applications of a variety of herbal
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