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GinkgoGINKGO (Ginkgo biloba)

 

Common name

Maidenhair tree

 

Medicinal part

Leaves

 

Description

A deciduous conifer with separate male and female forms. Introduced into Europe from the Far East in 1730, it became popular as an ornamental. Ginkgo trees, which can reach 100 feet with a 20-foot diameter, can be grown throughout much of the United States.

Ginkgo biloba has recently come into immense popularity as an aid to memory. Used in China for thousands of years, extracts from the tree's leaves are today the source of an herbal remedy that is big news. In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers confirmed what earlier European research had already surmised: that people who take the ginkgo extract for mild to severe dementia may improve both their ability to remember and to interact socially.

The leaves of the ginkgo contain the active constituents ginkgo flavone glycosides and terpene lactones, the extract of which can be used to treat poor circulation in the legs as well as memory and cognitive problems. It is also possible that ginkgo may aid men who suffer from impotence induced by taking antidepressant medications.

Though ginkgo has no history in Western herbal lore, European herbalists and mainstream physicians are so enthusiastic about its healing properties for a variety of ailments that it is among Europe's most widely used herbal remedies, with sales totaling $500 million a year.

Of botanicals used to treat conditions common in older people, ginkgo biloba is one of the most popular, usually as a memory enhancer. A five-year study to determine if ginkgo can prevent dementia in older people or enhance memory in otherwise healthy people has been undertaken by the NIH Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Dosage

Extract: 120 to 240 milligrams daily, in 3 doses. Plan to take it for at least eight weeks before improvement shows.

Capsules: Depending on capsule strength of the product you buy, use the same amount as the above recommended dosage. The standard dose is 40 to 60 milligrams. Buy a quality product and read the label. Look for products marked "24/6," an indication the product contains 24 percent flavone glycosides and 6 percent terpenes.

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