By Leslie Quinn, folk herbalist
What is the oldest living tree on the planet that’s been used safely for over 3000 years and was nearly wiped out during the Ice Age everywhere except in China? It is the living fossil tree, grandmother ginkgo biloba! Sometimes surviving today for over 1000 years, ginkgo was the only tree standing after the atomic bomb was detonated at Hiroshima. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, dating back to the 15th century, ginkgo was used for lung cough, asthma and diarrhea, and the leaf was used externally for sores, freckles, and perhaps as an antibacterial agent. In present day France and Germany ginkgo is the most frequently prescribed medicine, having appeared in over 400 scientific studies since the 1950’s.
Most often ginkgo is associated with improved circulation and memory retention. A 1997 Journal of the American Medical Association study confirmed the successful use of ginkgo in improving cognitive performance, mood and social functioning in Alzheimer’s patients. This study noted ginkgo’s potential for improving short term memory, longer attention span and oxygen metabolism in the brain with improved transport of oxygen and glucose, the energy source of the brain. Ginkgo has strong antioxidant properties, protecting both the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system from aging. It is currently being studied as an aid for impotence that’s caused by impaired blood flow. Ginkgo strengthens tissue by stabilizing cell membranes (aiding in the treatment of bruising and bleeding) and has been shown to increase not only the rate of blood flow to the brain, but the transmission of information to the nerve cells, enhancing memory ability. Ginkgo can also be helpful against tinnitus and vertigo, where impaired blood circulation can cause dizziness or ringing in the ears. Most often you will find ginkgo in combination with other circulatory herbs such as gotu kola. The whole body can see improved circulation with ginkgo use as well as improved mental functioning and ability to concentrate. Ginkgo may well be an important key in slowing down the aging process as well as slowing free radical damage which can develop into cancer. It may also be an effective block against a compound called PAF (Platelet Activating Factor) which contributes to bronchial asthma.
What is the best way to take ginkgo? Christopher Hobbs notes in his book on ginkgo that if you have no serious illnesses and want to use ginkgo for prevention. Making a tea or taking a tincture is inexpensive to moderately prices and affective over a period of time. For those who prefer tested quality and potency, use a standardized extract. Rare side effects include gastrointestinal upset or a skin rash, and use caution if taking blood thinners. As with any medicine, consult a health care practitioner before using.
Now what was I writing? Oh yeah "Take you ginkgo and you will remember!" Its true!
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