Ginkgo biloba is popular for its medicinal benefits, which have evolved over the years. Though there’s little scientific backing for eating raw ginkgo leaves to relieve symptoms of anxiety or visual disorders, the herb is considered a notable nootropic from years of research. Also, experts think it has some antioxidant and anti-aging effects and can possibly improve memory, cognition, and thinking.
Ginkgo is available in different forms; raw (seeds or leaves), capsule, tablets, extract, or teas. Though ginkgo extracts are powerful, some people prefer taking raw forms of the herb. However, taking ginkgo seeds (raw or roasted) has been found poisonous in humans, perhaps due to a toxin that causes certain serious side effects. Ginkgo extracts have recently found use in cosmetic products.
Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species in plant history. Historians agree that the tree has Asian origin and has probably existed for several centuries in regions of China, Japan, and Korea. There are reasons to believe that Ginkgo biloba has been in existence for over 500 years now. What’s more, a ginkgo tree can live up to 1,000 years before it deteriorates.
The possible benefits of ginkgo to the brain, specifically, are quite numerous. Let’s take a close look at some of them.
The nootropic effects of ginkgo biloba are largely due to the activities of flavonoid glycosides (such as quercetin) and terpene lactones (bilobalide, for example). The really effective supplements usually contain around 6 percent terpene lactones and 25 percent glycosides.
Some of the potent excitatory effects of Ginkgo biloba on the brain are achieved by stimulating the release of greater levels of some neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, noradrenaline, and acetylcholine. Increased blood levels of these neurotransmitters reinforce their effects and make them last relatively longer in action.
This is more or less an extension of the effects of the flavonoid and terpenoid contents of ginkgo biloba. It acts as an antioxidant against free radicals and prevents inflammation in the brain. The combined effect boosts brain function by protecting the mitochondria from damage and preventing brain cells’ aging.
The action of ginkgo in blocking platelet-activating factor (PAF) receptors forms an effective means for improving cerebral circulation. Thus, blood flow to the brain increases with concomitant increased oxygen supply, which boosts thinking, memory, and cognition.
Ginkgo biloba extracts help to reduce stress and anxiety levels by lowering corticosterone levels in the blood. Corticosterone serves as the so-called stress hormone; reducing its secretion would, in turn, reduce stress levels.
Different dosage formulations have been proposed for many experimental purposes. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all standard of dosage. Your best dose largely depends on factors such as gender, age, medical history, and prescription.
Oral administration of ginkgo biloba for clinical research usually involves using a standardized ginkgo leaf extract known as EGb 761. Most studies use 100-250 mg doses daily; however, some people take as much as 500 mg of ginkgo biloba extracts. Such high doses haven’t been proven to be more effective.
Attention should be given to the amount of each active component in the supplement before use, as some supplements may not have enough of the flavonoids and terpenoids to be effective. Also, you would like to seek medical advice before you proceed with any dosage formulations.
Certain drugs and chemicals can possibly interact with ginkgo extracts when administered together. This can be a cause of many serious adverse effects that can be avoided. Do not take ginkgo biloba extracts in combination with any of these substances.
Taking ginkgo extracts with any of these medications can increase the potency of some of them to deleterious levels. For example – slowing down blood clotting mechanisms around the body to the extent of fostering bleeding problems, in the case of combining ibuprofen with ginkgo biloba extracts. It can as well reduce the potency of some medications (for example, Efavirenz).
Other effects of combining ginkgo biloba extracts with the aforesaid drugs include feelings of excitement or euphoria due to the combined effects on the brain, slowing down the breakdown of certain medications by the liver, and so on.
Ginkgo biloba has made its mark amongst other effective nootropics. What’s more, this ancient herb has been studied across regions of the world. It remains one of the trusted cognitive boosting supplements; safe and effective.