Herbs & Plants

Ginkgo biloba

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Botanical Name : Ginkgo biloba
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Ginkgophyta
Class: Ginkgoopsida
Order: Ginkgoales
Family: Ginkgoaceae
Genus: Ginkgo
Species: G. biloba

Synonyms : Salisburia adiantifolia. Pterophyllus salisburiensis. Ginkgo macrophylla. Salisburia biloba

Common Names: Ginkgo, Maidenhair tree ,
Chinese: Pinyin: Yínxìng; Japanese pronunciation: Icho, Ginnan; Korean: Romaja: Eunhaeng; Vietnamese: Bach quo, Acceptable variant gingko

Habitat :Ginkgo biloba is native to E. Asia – N. China. Found wild in only 2 localities at Guizhou and on the Anhui/Zhejiang border, where it grows on rich sandy soils
Ginkgos are large deciduous trees, normally reaching a height of 20–35 m (66–115 ft), with some specimens in China being over 50 m (160 ft). The tree has an angular crown and long, somewhat erratic branches, and is usually deep rooted and resistant to wind and snow damage. Young trees are often tall and slender, and sparsely branched; the crown becomes broader as the tree ages. During autumn, the leaves turn a bright yellow, then fall, sometimes within a short space of time (one to 15 days). A combination of resistance to disease, insect-resistant wood and the ability to form aerial roots and sprouts makes ginkgos long-lived, with some specimens claimed to be more than 2,500 years old.


Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Ginkgo is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives and is one of the best-known examples of a living fossil.

Ginkgo is a relatively shade-intolerant species that (at least in cultivation) grows best in environments that are well-watered and well-drained. The species shows a preference for disturbed sites; in the “semiwild” stands at Tian Mu Shan, many specimens are found along stream banks, rocky slopes, and cliff edges. Accordingly, ginkgo retains a prodigious capacity for vegetative growth. It is capable of sprouting from embedded buds near the base of the trunk (lignotubers, or basal chi chi) in response to disturbances, such as soil erosion. Old individuals are also capable of producing aerial roots on the undersides of large branches in response to disturbances such as crown damage; these roots can lead to successful clonal reproduction upon contacting the soil. These strategies are evidently important in the persistence of ginkgo; in a survey of the “semiwild” stands remaining in Tianmushan, 40% of the specimens surveyed were multistemmed, and few saplings were present.

China,the tree is widely cultivated and was introduced early to human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food

Landscape Uses:Firewood, Pest tolerant, Specimen, Street tree. Succeeds in most soil types so long as they are well-drained, though it prefers a rather dry loam in a position sheltered from strong winds. Some of the best specimens in Britain are found growing on soils over chalk or limestone. Plants flower and fruit more reliably after hot summers or when grown in a warm sunny position. Established plants are drought resistant, they also tolerate atmospheric pollution. Plants can grow in poor hard-packed soil, making the male forms good candidates for street planting. Trees are often used for street planting in towns, only the males are used because the fruit from female plants has a nauseous smell. The fruit contains butanoic acid, it has the aroma of rancid butter. Ginkgo is a very ornamental plant and there are several named forms. This species is the only surviving member of a family that was believed to be extinct until fairly recent times. It has probably remained virtually unchanged for at least 150 million years and might have been growing when the dinosaurs were roaming the earth. It is exceptional in having motile sperm and fertilization may not take place until after the seed has fallen from the tree. This genus belongs to a very ancient order and has affinities with tree ferns and cycads. The ginkgo is usually slow growing, averaging less than 30cm per year with growth taking place from late May to the end of August. Growth is also unpredictable, in some years trees may not put on any new growth whilst in others there may be 1 metre of growth. This variability does not seem to be connected to water or nutrient availability. Trees are probably long-lived in Britain, one of the original plantings (in 1758) is still growing and healthy at Kew (1993). Plants are not troubled by insects or diseases, have they evolved a resistance?. Ginkgo is a popular food and medicinal crop in China, the plants are often cultivated for this purpose and are commonly grown in and around temples. Plants are either male or female, one male plant can pollinate up to 5 females. It takes up to 35 years from seed for plants to come into bearing. Prior to maturity the sexes can often be distinguished because female plants tend to have almost horizontal branches and deeply incised leaves whilst males have branches at a sharper angle to the trunk and their leaves are not so deeply lobed. Branches of male trees can be grafted onto female frees in order to fertilize them. When a branch from a female plant was grafted onto a male plant at Kew it fruited prolifically. Female trees have often been seen in various gardens with good crops of fruit. Seeds are marked by two or three longitudinal ridges, it is said that those with two ridges produce female plants whilst those with three ridges produce male plants. Trees can be coppiced. They can also be pruned into a fan-shape for growing on walls. Another report says that the trees dislike pruning and will often die back as a result. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Fragrant flowers, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms, Flowers have an unpleasant odor.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in a sheltered outdoor bed. The seed requires stratification according to one report whilst another says that stratification is not required and that the seed can be sown in spring but that it must not have been allowed to dry out. Germination is usually good to fair. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for their first year. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the following spring and consider giving them some protection from winter cold for their first winter outdoors. Softwood cuttings in a frame in spring. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. The cutting may not grow away in its first year but usually grows all right after that. Cuttings of mature wood, December in a frame.
Edible Uses: Oil; … & see

Seed – raw (in small quantities), or cooked. A soft and oily texture, the seed has a sweet flavour and tastes somewhat like a large pine nut. The baked seed makes very pleasant eating, it has a taste rather like a cross between potatoes and sweet chestnuts. The seed can be boiled and used in soups, porridges etc…CLICK  & SEE  It needs to be heated before being eaten in order to destroy a mildly acrimonious principle. Another report says that the seed can be eaten raw whilst another says that large quantities of the seed are toxic. See the notes above on toxicity for more details. The raw seed is said to have a fish-like flavour. The seed is rich in niacin. It is a good source of starch and protein, but is low in fats. These fats are mostly unsaturated or monosaturated. A more detailed nutritional analysis is available. An edible oil is obtained from the seed

Composition :
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Dry weight)

*403 Calories per 100g
*Water : 0%
*Protein: 10.4g; Fat: 3.3g; Carbohydrate: 83g; Fibre: 1.3g; Ash: 3.5g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 11mg; Phosphorus: 327mg; Iron: 2.6mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 15mg; Potassium: 1139mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 392mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.52mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.26mg; Niacin: 6.1mg; B6: 0mg; C: 54mg;

Medicinal Uses:
Antianxiety; Antiasthmatic; Antibacterial; Antifungal; Astringent; Cancer; Digestive; Expectorant; Infertility; Ophthalmic; Sedative;
Tonic; Vermifuge.

Ginkgo has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine, where the seed is most commonly used. These uses are mentioned in more detail later. Recent research into the plant has discovered a range of medicinally active compounds in the leaves and this has excited a lot of interest in the health-promoting potential of the plant. In particular, the leaves stimulate the blood circulation and have a tonic effect on the brain, reducing lethargy, improving memory and giving an improved sense of well-being. They have also been shown to be effective in improving peripheral arterial circulation and in treating hearing disorders such as tinnitus where these result from poor circulation or damage by free radicals. The leaves contain ginkgolides, these are compounds that are unknown in any other plant species. Ginkgolides inhibit allergic responses and so are of use in treating disorders such as asthma. Eye disorders and senility have also responded to treatment. The leaves are best harvested in the late summer or early autumn just before they begin to change colour. They are dried for later use. The fruit is antibacterial, antifungal, astringent, cancer, digestive, expectorant, sedative, vermifuge. The fruit is macerated in vegetable oil for 100 days and then the pulp is used in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis, asthma, bronchitis etc. (This report might be referring to the seed rather than the fleshy fruit). The cooked seed is antitussive, astringent and sedative. It is used in the treatment of asthma, coughs with thick phlegm and urinary incontinence. The raw seed is said to have anticancer activity and also to be antivinous. It should be used with caution, however, due to reports of toxicity. The cooked seeds stabilize spermatogenesis.
Other Uses: Oil; Oil; Soap; Wood…….An oil from the seed is used as a fuel in lighting. A soap substitute is produced by mixing the pulp of the seed (is the fruit meant here?) with oil or wine. Wood – light, soft, it has insect repelling qualities.

Known Hazards: The seed contains a mildly acrimonious principle that is unstable when heated. It is therefore best to cook the seed before eating it to ensure any possible toxicity is destroyed. This acrimonious principle is probably 4′-methoxypyridoxine, which can destroy vitamin B6. It is more toxic for children, but the raw nuts would have to be eaten often over a period of time for the negative effects to become apparent. Avoid if known allergy to Ginkgo or cross-react species (cashew, poison ivy). Not recommended for children. Avoid if on blood thinning medication (e.g. warfarin). Discontinue prior to surgery. Avoid parenteral use as possible hypotension, shock, dizziness. Excessive seed ingestion can cause ‘gin-man’ food poisoning.


Herbs & Plants

Brahmi (Bacopa monniera)

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Botanical Name :Bacopa monniera
Family :Scrophulariaceae/PLANTAGINACEAE Plantain Family
Genus: Bacopa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
B. monnieri
Common Names :  Bacopa , Water hyssop, Brahmi, Coastal Waterhyssop, Thyme-leafed gratiola,
International Naming:
(Niirpirami) in Tamil
Phak mi, Phrommi , in Vietnamese
Lunuwila in Sinhalese (Sri Lanka)

Habitat: Native in India,Bangladesh,Burma.It commonly grows in marshy areas throughout India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and is also found in Florida and other southern states of the USA where it can be grown in damp conditions by the pond or bog garden.. Wetlands and muddy shores.

Bacopa Monniera is a genus of 70-100 aquatic plants in the family Plantaginaceae. The plants are annual or perennial, decumbent or erect stemmed plants. Crushed Bacopa leaves have the distinct scent of lemons.It is a  creeping herb with numerous branches, small oblong leaves, and light purple flowers. In India and the tropics it grows naturally in wet soil, shallow water, and marshes. The herb can be found at elevations from sea level to altitudes of 4,400 feet, and is easily cultivated if adequate water is available. Flowers and fruit appear in summer and the entire plant is used medicinally.   Brahmi is also the name given to Centella asiatica, particularly in north India, although that may be a case of mistaken identification that was introduced during the 16th century.

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Bacopa Monniera is used prominently in Ayurveda, a holistic medicine system from India, and has been used since approximately the 6th century AD.
Bacopa monnieri in Hyderabad, India.The leaves of this plant are succulent and relatively thick. Leaves are oblanceolate and are arranged oppositely on the stem. The flowers are small and white, with four or five petals. Its ability to grow in water makes it a popular aquarium plant. It can even grow in slightly brackish conditions. Propagation is often achieved through cuttings.

Edible uses:
It is used in Vietnamese cuisine, where it is called rau ??ng bi?n. It is used in cháo cá, a variety of rice congee made with fish and n?m tràm mushrooms.

Active Constituents and Pharmacokinetics:
Compounds responsible for the pharmacological effects of Bacopa include alkaloids, saponins, and sterols. Many active constituents–the alkaloids Brahmine and herpestine, saponins d-mannitol and hersaponin, acid A, and monnierin–were isolated in India over 40 years ago. Other active constituents have since been identified, including betulic acid, stigmastarol, beta-sitosterol, as well as numerous bacosides and bacopasaponins. The constituents responsible for Bacopa’s cognitive effects are bacosides A and B.5. (5-9)

Medicinal Actions & Uses:

Traditional uses: Bacopa has been used in traditional Ayurvedic treatment for epilepsy and asthma. It is also used in Ayurveda for ulcers, tumors, ascites, enlarged spleen, inflammations, leprosy, anemia, and gastroenteritis.

It has antioxidant properties, reducing oxidation of fats in the bloodstream. However, anti-epilepsy properties seem to be in very high toxic and near lethal doses, so it’s only used—at much lower non-toxic dosage—as a (cognitive) additive to regular epilepsy medication. Studies in humans show that an extract of the plant has antianxiety effects.

It is listed as a nootropic, a drug that enhances cognitive ability. In India, this plant has also been used traditionally to consecrate newborn babies in the belief that it will open the gateway of intelligence. Laboratory studies on rats indicate that extracts of the plant improve memory capacity and motor learning ability.[5] Recent studies suggest bacopa may improve intellectual activity. The sulfhydryl and polyphenol components of Bacopa monniera extract have also been shown to impact the oxidative stress cascade by scavenging reactive oxygen species, inhibiting lipoxygenase activity and reducing divalent metals. This mechanism of action may explain the effect of Bacopa monniera extract in reducing beta-amyloid deposits in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.

It is used in Rebirthing therapy to accelerate trauma release and make continuous breathing easier. Bacopa monnieri is a well known nootropic plant reported for its tranquilizing, sedative, cognitive enhancing, hepatoprotective and antioxidant action.(ref name: m mujassam)

Common uses:
Memory, attention and other cognitive functions, occasional panic and anxiety, mental/physical fatigue, immune system response

Pharmacology and Phytochemicals:
Much modern research has focused on the activity Bacopa Monniera demonstrates in the Central Nervous System. Recent studies indicate that Bacosides, B. Monniera’s primary components, enhance nerve impulse transmission, possibly helping improve concentration, learning, memory, and attention span as well as other higher order cognitive functions. Preliminary lab results also suggest it influences that production and availability of Serotonin.

Scientists state that B. Monniera likely affects multiple systems in the body in order to promote emotional well-being, mental sharpness, and physical endurance.

Mechanisms of Action:
Bacopa Monniera has been identified in clinical study as an adaptogen that increases resistance to a wide range of chemical, physical, and biological stressors.

Bacopa monnieri displays in vitro antioxidant and cell-protective effects. In animals, it also inhibits acetylcholinesterase, activates choline acetyltransferase, and increases cerebral blood flow.

Several studies have suggested that Bacopa monnieri extracts may have protective effects in animal models of neurodegeneration. Small clinical trials in humans have found limited evidence supporting improved free memory recall, with no evidence supporting other cognition-enhancing effects.


A standardized Bacopa monniera preparation was evaluated for safety and tolerability in 23 healthy adult volunteers.   Participants took 300 mg of the extract daily for 15 days, followed by 450 mg/daily for the subsequent 15 days. No adverse effects were observed in biochemical, electrocardiographic, hematological or clinical parameters in the post-treatment vs. the pre-treatment period. There were some reports of mild gastrointestinal symptoms that resolved spontaneously.

Bacopa Monnieri might agonize (strengthen) cytochrome p450 liver isoenzymes “7-pentoxyresorufin O-dealkylase” (CYP2B1/2?) and “7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylation” (CYP1A1), especially under stressful conditions.

Known Hazards:  Aqueous extracts of Bacopa monnieri may have reversible adverse effects on spermatogenesis, sperm count, and fertility in male mice.

The most commonly reported adverse side effects of Bacopa monnieri in humans are nausea, increased intestinal motility, and gastrointestinal upset.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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15 Ways to Hack Your Brain

smart, memory, brain

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If you’re looking to improve mental cognition, increase your memory, and enhance your alertness, here are 15 easy ways to help out your brain.

1. Exercise: More than 20 percent of your body’s blood and oxygen go directly to your brain. Exercise, particularly cardio training, effectively increases the flow to your brain, keeping it a well-oiled machine. But if you’d like something a little more Zen, try Yoga. Many Yoga poses, like Downward Facing Dog, are specifically engineered to get blood to your brain faster.
2. Hydrate: If you’re looking for a little pick-me-up, don’t reach for your usual double espresso. Instead try drinking water. The caffeine in coffee and soda may temporarily make you feel more alert, but in the long run will make you even more tired by dehydrating your muscles and constricting your blood vessels. Water, on the other hand, is a simple way to keep your mind alert and refreshed.

3. Find Stimulation: By decorating your work area brightly or switching your font color to something more vivid, you can work through boredom and fatigue. Aromatherapy can also be enormously effective, as smell is the strongest of the senses. Lemon, peppermint, and cypress are several scents known to stimulate the brain.4. Think Happy Thoughts: Your brain, particularly your memory, doesn’t respond well to stress. If you’re tense, overwrought, or unhappy, you’re much less likely to retain information or stay alert. Try to eliminate stressful influences from your life and workplace.5. Play Games: Studies with dementia patients have shown that playing word games and puzzles can increase and even restore mental cognitive abilities.

6. Watch Quality TV: Unfortunately, studies indicate that passively sitting in front of the TV is counterproductive. But if you must, choose a game or quiz shows like Jeopardy, and try to answer the questions. Even if you have never heard of the Federalist Papers, your brain will be stimulated in the same way as if you were playing Trivial Pursuit with your friends.

7. Surf the Net: A recent study at the University of California Los Angeles found that searching the Web stimulated centers in the brain that controlled decision-making and complex reasoning. A simple task like searching the Web appears to enhance brain circuitry.

8. Eat Brain Food: If you want to get peak mental performance from what you eat, here are a few things to remember. Protein is the main source of fuel for your brain. Your brain also needs foods rich in crucial vitamins and minerals, and it’s always better to get these from food rather than taking pills …

Vitamin A is needed to protect brain cell membranes
• B Vitamins are essential for neuronal growth and vitality
• Vitamin C is so vital for brain function that its levels in your brain are 15 times higher than anywhere outside your brain
• Vitamin E prevents and actually reverses brain deterioration• Magnesium maintains the metabolic viability of neurons
• Zinc rids your brain of impurities
• Amino Acids are necessary to the growth and health of neurotransmitters

9. Load Up On Fish Oil: The omega -3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in fish oil keep the dopamine levels in your brain high, increase neuronal growth in the frontal cortex of the brain, and increase cerebral circulation. Krill oil is another excellent source of omega-3, and may even be superior to fish oil.

10. Eat Weeds: There are about a dozen or so ‘brain-boosting’ herbs, but the two most important are Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng. Ginseng helps your brain adapt to stress agents by heightening the productivity of your adrenal glands.

11. Learn Something New: Very few people find the time to master new skills or even read a new book that isn‘t for work or class. But learning a foreign language, a new handcraft or recipe, or challenging yourself with an unfamiliar subject all increase brain growth.

12. Don’t Waste Time: The best way to organize your mind is to declutter your life. Maximize your time with a few personal alterations. Make and keep a list of daily and long-term priorities, and don’t let your focus wander.

13. Actively Improve Your Memory: The most effective way to remember facts is by forming multiple associations. For example, you may remember the date of your dentist appointment, because that number was the age of your favorite singer when he died. After that, repetition is a tried and true method of memorization.

14. Rest: Almost nothing is as crucial to proper and efficient brain functioning as sleep.

15. Have Sex: A lot happens to your body during sex, and much of it goes on in your brain. There is no activity that increases more blood flow to your brain, enhancing cognitive capabilities.

Having sex also produces hormones that dramatically improve brain functioning. One example includes the hormone oxytocin, which increases your ability to think of original solutions to a problem. Serotonin and dopamine, which surge after sex, help your creative thinking and support calm, logical decision-making.
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News on Health & Science

Ginkgo Biloba Protects Your Memory

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Taking the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba may delay the onset of cognitive impairment in elderly adults. However, the study also showed a higher incidence of strokes and “mini-strokes” in ginkgo users.


In a three-year study of more than 100 people age 85 and older with no memory problems, half took ginkgo biloba extract three times a day, and half took a placebo.

During the course of the study, 14 of those who took the placebo developed memory problems, but only 7 of those who took the ginkgo extract did. When the researchers took into account whether people followed directions in taking the study pills, they found that people who reliably took ginkgo had a 68 percent lower risk of developing memory problems.

Seven people taking ginkgo had strokes, while none of those taking placebo did.

Reuters February 27, 2008
Neurology February 27, 2008 [Epub ahead of print]

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Herbs & Plants

Ginko Biloba

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Ginkgo is the oldest living tree species on the earth, dating back to the time of the dinosaurs.It is native to northeast Asia. Medically its leaves used to prevent slow memory loss associated with aging. It has various other medical uses.


A folk etymology for the word says that, the Japanese characters used to write ginkgo look as though they could be read ginkyō, and this was the name Engelbert Kaempfer, the first Westerner to see the species in 1690, wrote down in his Amoenitates Exoticae (1712). However, his y was misread as a g, and the misspelling stuck
The Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba; in Chinese), frequently misspelled as “Gingko”, and also known as the Maidenhair Tree, is a unique tree with no close living relatives. It is classified in its own division, the Ginkgophyta, comprising the single class Ginkgoopsida, order Ginkgoales, family Ginkgoaceae, genus Ginkgo and is the only extant species within this group. It is one of the best known examples of a living fossil. In the past it has also been placed in the divisions Spermatophyta or Pinophyta. Ginkgo is a gymnosperm: its seeds are not protected by an ovary wall. The apricot-like structures produced by female ginkgo trees are technically not fruits, but are the seeds having a shell that consists of a soft and fleshy section (the sarcotesta), and a hard section (the sclerotesta).

For centuries it was thought to be extinct in the wild, but is now known to grow in at least two small areas in Zhejiang province in eastern China, in the Tian Mu Shan Reserve. However, ginkgo trees in these areas may have been tended and preserved by Chinese monks for over 1000 years. Therefore, whether native ginkgo populations still exist is uncertain

Ginkgos are medium-large deciduous trees, normally reaching a height of 20–35 m (66-115 feet), with some specimens in China being over 50 m (164 feet). The tree has an often angular crown and long, somewhat erratic branches, and is usually deep rooted and resistant to wind and snow damage. Young trees are often tall and slender, and sparsely branched; the crown becomes broader as the tree ages. During autumn, the leaves turn a bright yellow, then fall, sometimes within a short space of time (1–15 days). A combination of resistance to disease, insect-resistant wood and the ability to form aerial roots and sprouts makes ginkgos very long-lived, with some specimens claimed to be more than 2,500 years old: A 3,000 year-old ginkgo has been reported in Shandong province in China (Lewington and Parker, 183).

Some old Ginkgos produce aerial roots, known as chichi (Japanese; “nipples”) or zhong-ru (Chinese), which form on the undersides of large branches and grow downwards. Chichi growth is very slow, and may take hundreds of years to occur. The function, if any, of these thick aerial roots is unknown.

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Ginkgo branches grow in length by growth of shoots with regularly spaced leaves, as seen on most trees. From the axils of these leaves, “spur shoots” (also known as short shoots) develop on second-year growth. Short shoots have very short internodes (so that several years’ growth may only extend them by a centimeter or two) and their leaves are ordinarily unlobed. They are short and knobby, and are arranged regularly on the branches except on first-year growth. Because of the short internodes, leaves appear to be clustered at the tips of short shoots, and reproductive structures are formed only on them (see picture to above left— seeds and leaves are visible on short shoots). In Ginkgos, as in other plants that possess them, short shoots allow the formation of new leaves in the older parts of the crown. After a number of years, a short shoot may change into a long (ordinary) shoot, or vice versa.

The leaveslare unique among seed plants, being fan-shaped with veins radiating out into the leaf blade, sometimes bifurcating (splitting) but never anstomosing to form a network. Two veins enter the leaf blade at the base and fork repeatedly in two; this is known as dichotomous venation. The leaves are usually 5-10 cm (2-4 inches), but sometimes up to 15 cm (6 inches) long. The old popular name “Maidenhair tree” is because the leaves resemble some of the pinnae of theMaidenhair fern Adiantum capillus-veneris.

Leaves of long shoots are usually notched or lobed, but only from the outer surface, between the veins. They are borne both on the more rapidly-growing branch tips, where they are alternate and spaced out, and also on the short, stubby spur shoots, where they are clustered at the tips. During summer the leaves are a deep green, turning to brilliant yellow in the autumn. They generally remain yellow for a time, then suddenly drop most of their leaves in a short period.

Medical uses
The extract of the Ginkgo leaves contains flavonoid glycosides and terpenoids (ginkgolides, bilobalides) and has been used pharmaceutically. It has many alleged nootropic properties, and is mainly used as memory enhancer and anti-vertigo agent. However, studies differ about its efficacy. Some controversy has arisen over the conclusions drawn by some studies that were allegedly funded by a firm which marketed Ginkgo. Slate, an Internet-based magazine owned by The Washington Post Company, reported in April 2007:

Ginkgo biloba has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Today, it is one of the top selling herbs in the United States.

Ginkgo is used for the treatment of numerous conditions, many which are under scientific investigation. Available evidence demonstrates ginkgo’s efficacy in the management of intermittent claudication, Alzheimer’s/multi-infarct dementia, and “cerebral insufficiency” (a syndrome thought to be secondary to atherosclerotic disease, characterized by impaired concentration, confusion, decreased physical performance, fatigue, headache, dizziness, depression, and anxiety).

Although not definitive, there is promising early evidence favoring use of ginkgo for memory enhancement in healthy subjects, altitude (mountain) sickness, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and reduction of chemotherapy-induced end-organ vascular damage.

Although still controversial, a recent large trial has shifted the evidence against the use of ginkgo for tinnitus.

The herb is generally well tolerated, but due to multiple case reports of bleeding, should be used cautiously in patients on anti-coagulant therapy, with known coagulopathy, or prior to some surgical or dental procedures.
In 2002, a long-anticipated paper appeared in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) titled “Ginkgo for memory enhancement: a randomized controlled trial.” This Williams College study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging rather than Schwabe, examined the effects of ginkgo consumption on healthy volunteers older than 60. The conclusion, now cited in the National Institutes of Health’s ginkgo fact sheet, said: “When taken following the manufacturer’s instructions, ginkgo provides no measurable benefit in memory or related cognitive function to adults with healthy cognitive function.”

Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co. is a German pharmaceutical company that markets a Ginkgo product within the United States.

Out of the many conflicting research results, Ginkgo extract seems to have three effects on the human body: it improves blood flow (including microcirculation in small capillaries) to most tissues and organs; it protects against oxidative cell damage from free radicals; and it blocks many of the effects of PAF (platelet aggregation, blood clotting) that have been related to the development of a number of cardiovascular, renal, respiratory and CNS (Central Nervous System) disorders. Ginkgo can be used for intermittent claudication.

A 2004 conference paper summarizes how various trials indicate that Ginkgo shows promise in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, although further study is needed.
Ginkgo is commonly added to energy drinks, but the amount is typically so low it does not produce a noticeable effect, except perhaps via a placebo effect from Ginkgo being listed on the label.Ginkgo supplements are usually taken in the range of 40–200 mg per day.

Side effects

Ginkgo may have some undesirable effects, especially for individuals with blood circulation disorders and those taking anti-coagulants such as aspirin and warfarin, although recent studies have found that ginkgo has little or no effect on the anticoagulant properties or pharmacodynamics of warfarin[8][9]. Ginkgo should also not be used by people who are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) or by pregnant women without first consulting a doctor.

What the Science Says
Numerous studies of ginkgo have been done for a variety of conditions. Some promising results have been seen for Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, intermittent claudication, and tinnitus among others, but larger, well-designed research studies are needed.
Some smaller studies for memory enhancement have had promising results, but a trial sponsored by the National Institute on Aging of more than 200 healthy adults over age 60 found that ginkgo taken for 6 weeks did not improve memory.1
NCCAM is conducting a large clinical trial of ginkgo with more than 3,000 volunteers. The aim is to see if the herb prevents the onset of dementia and, specifically, Alzheimer’s disease; slows cognitive decline and functional disability (for example, inability to prepare meals); reduces the incidence of cardiovascular disease; and decreases the rate of premature death.
Ginkgo is also being studied by NCCAM for asthma, symptoms of multiple sclerosis, vascular function (intermittent claudication), cognitive decline, sexual dysfunction due to antidepressants, and insulin resistance. NCCAM is also looking at potential interactions between ginkgo and prescription drugs.
Side Effects and Cautions
Side effects of ginkgo may include possible increased risk of bleeding, headache, nausea, gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, dizziness, or allergic skin reactions. More severe allergic reactions have occasionally been reported. If any side effects are experienced, consumption should be halted immediately.
There are some data to suggest that ginkgo can increase bleeding risk, so people who take anticoagulant drugs, have bleeding disorders, or have scheduled surgery or dental procedures should use caution and talk to a health care provider if using ginkgo.
Uncooked ginkgo seeds contain a chemical known as ginkgotoxin, which can cause seizures. Consuming large quantities of seeds over time can cause death. Ginkgo leaf and ginkgo leaf extracts appear to contain little ginkgotoxin.
It is important to inform your health care providers about any herb or dietary supplement you are using, including ginkgo. This helps to ensure safe and coordinated care.

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The information presented herein by is intended for educational purposes only.Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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