Brain Vitamins 101 – Ginkgo Biloba
What Is Ginkgo Biloba?
Standardized extracts of the Ginkgo Biloba leaf (also known as GBE), are not only some of the most widely studied brain vitamins derived from natural plants to be used in modern medicine today, but also some of the oldest.
The Ginkgo Biloba leaf, from which the extract is derived, has been shown by botanists to be from one of the first tree species on the planet – the ancient Ginkgo tree – which has proven to be extremely resilient over the centuries with many examples having been found and dated to be over 1000 years old.
In fact, the National Centre for Complimentary Medicine mentions that some of the first recorded uses of ginkgo as a herbal medicine were recorded in writings found in China and across Cambodia from as long as 1000 years ago, which implies that from its very beginning the leaf from the Ginkgo tree was being used as a herbal medicine in some parts of the Far East.
These ancient texts found in China and Cambodia show that it was not only the leaves but also the seeds from the ginkgo tree that were ground together and applied in the form of a paste or taken orally with water.
Ginkgo Biloba & Modern Medicine
Modern medicine however has moved away from using Ginkgo derived from the leaves and seeds of the tree to using a more standardised extract (GBE), which is also made from leaves but they are dried first to make the end result more concentrated.
The resulting extracted formula (GBE) is highly efficacious and subsequent comparison research has shown it to be more effective in treating standard ailments like memory loss or blood circulation problems than the non-standardized leaf alone.
The standardisation of Ginkgo to a more potent form has meant that brain vitamins for memory supplements containing extracts of Ginkgo are now widely used across the world and are consistently ranked amongst the most popular herbal remedies both in the United States and across mainland Europe.
Although Ginkgo has been used to treat a wide number of ailments and disorders over the centuries including protection from blood thinning and development of blood clots, today it is most commonly used to improve memory and prevent dementia or mild to moderate memory loss.
There have been a range of animal and human research studies, both formal and informal into the efficacy of extract of Ginkgo as a brain vitamin for memory and although the sheer number of studies makes contradictory results inevitable, the general conclusion amongst the wider scientific community is that extracts of ginkgo biloba may be extremely useful in treating mild to moderate forms of dementia that would include the early onset of Alzheimer’s.
How Does Ginkgo Biloba Work?
These research studies as described by the Mayo Clinic have shown that the two main essential elements found in ginkgo extract (known as terpenoids and flavonoids) work to eliminate free radicals and thereby help protect cells, nerves and DNA in the human body. It is the antioxidant properties that Ginkgo biloba possesses that helps protect memory in humans, particularly as we get older.
Specifically these research studies appear to demonstrate the following memory related benefits associated with Ginkgo Biloba:
- Improves overall cognitive performance
- Improves quality of thinking
- Improves memory recall
- Improvement in overall positivity
- Improvement in mood balance
- Improvement in social functioning
In fact, a large amount of scientific research studies have concluded that extract of ginkgo may work as well as doctor prescribed medications for Dementia and Alzheimer’s and the considerable body of anecdotal evidence gathered over many centuries of use appear to back up the overriding scientific conclusions as to the efficacy of Ginkgo Biloba in helping protect memory.
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About the Author
Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviours and the science of happiness. You can find him at Google+