Ginkgo Biloba
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Obtained from the leaves of a deciduous tree originally from China, Ginkgo biloba is one of mankind’s most ancient medicines. Fossil records indicate that the tree has been around for over 200-million years, and some of the long-living ginkgos at Chinese temples are more than 1,500-years old. Given ginkgos are highly disease and insect resistant and grow in urban environments where other trees can not, it is not surprising that they possess substances with medicinal properties.

In Europe, ginkgo is the most widely sold and prescribed phytomedicine; in the U.S., it is one of the top ten best-selling herbal remedies. Supported by varying degrees of animal research and clinical studies, ginkgo may provide benefits for a variety of disorders, including:

bulletCerebral vascular insufficiency and impaired mental performance (e.g., senility);
bulletAlzheimer’s disease (AD);
bulletCochlear deafness;
bulletSenile macular degeneration;
bulletPeripheral arterial insufficiency;
bulletErectile dysfunction;
bulletDepression and anxiety;
bulletMultiple sclerosis (MS);
bulletTraumatic brain injury;

Ginkgo operates through physiological mechanisms especially relevant for neuronal health. For example, it is an antioxidant, maintains cell-membrane integrity, enhances oxygen use and metabolism, augments neurotransmission, and inhibits a form of programmed cell death called apoptosis.


Using a rat model of acute injury, Turkish investigators showed that ginkgo extract inhibits post-injury lipid peroxidation, a biochemical process that mediates damage to the injured cord. Ginkgo’s inhibition was even greater than methylprednisolone, a glucocorticoid-steroid drug routinely administered after injury to minimize neurological damage (Koc et al. Res Exp Med 195, 1995).

More recently, Chinese investigators demonstrated that ginkgo extract is neuroprotective in rats with experimental SCI (Ao et al. Spinal Cord, 44, 2006). Specifically, after cutting the spinal cord in half at the thoracic T-9 level, rats were given either ginkgo or saline. The ginkgo-treated rats had smaller injury-related cavities, less conduction-inhibiting demyelination (i.e., loss of insulating myelin coat surrounding neurons), and less apoptotic neuronal cell death.  


bulletDr. SK Johnson and colleagues (Charlotte, NC) noted that consuming ginkgo generated modest improvements with respect to MS-related fatigue, symptom severity, and functional performance (Explore 2(1), 2006.).
bulletDr. Jesus Lovera et al (Portland, OR) observed that subjects who received 12 weeks of ginkgo had improvement in an evaluation parameter associated with information processing, concentration, attention, mental flexibility, and ability to ward off distractions (Mult Scler. 13, 2007).