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Family Ginkgoaceae
Ginkgo biloba L.

Common names
Maidenhair tree (Engl.)
Fossil tree (Engl.)
Pinyin (Chin.)
Kew tree

General info
One of the most ancient trees in existence, ginkgo biloba trees can live as long as 1000 years. its leaves are among the most extensively studied botanicals in use today. Unilke most medicinal herbs, ginkgo is not usually used in its crude state but in a standardized ginkgo biloba extract (GBE). In France and Germany, it continues to be the top ranked prescribed medicine.

Tall tree with a resinous trunk that can grown as high as 120 feet. Leaves are fan-shaped, long stalked. Flowers are in clusters, the male smaller than the female. The fruit is drupelike and long-stalked with a fleshy foul-smelling pulp that encloses an oval-pointed seed 1-2 cm long.

Native to China.
Planted in the Baguio area, but with limited survival.

Chemical constituents and properties
• Two main constituests are responsible for its medicinal effects: terpene lactones and ginkgo flavone glycosides.
• About 40 different flavonoids have been isolated, including: ginkgetin, bilogetin and sciadopitysin.
• Terpenes isolated include ginkgolides (ginkgolides A, B, and C with bilobalide) and diterpenes
• Flavone glycosides, including quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin, have antioxidant properties.
• Terpenoids (ginkgolides) improve circulation.
• Bilobalides have neuroprotective properties.
• It alters vasoregulation, modulates neurotransmitter and receptor activity and inhibits PAF (platelet activating factor).
PREOPERATIVE SURGICAL: The effect on PAF and platelet aggregation may contribute to perioperative bleeding. Ginkgo use should be discontinued at least 16 hours before surgery.
Some Ginkgo products may contain a neurotoxin (Ginkgo toxin) that might increase the risk of seizures

Parts used and preparation
Leaves, flowering spikes, roots.

Folkloric and modern day uses
Chinese medicine has used the leaf and seed for centuries. Used for asthma, digestive disorders.
• In this new age of antioxidants, glycosides and flavonoids, Ginkgo is promoted to treat Alzheimer's disease and dementia, improve memory and cognitive function, cerebral and peripheral blood flow (claudication), tinnitus and vertigo.
Erectile dysfunction: Because of its effect on circulation, it has become an ingredient in many Herbal Viagra concoctions to increase the blood flow to the genitals
Memory enhancement: The largest and longest clinical trial concluded ti provides no measurable benefit in memory or related cognitive function to adults with healthy cognitive function.
• Fruits are fermented in vats or water to remove the malodorous pulp. Nuts are then washed, boiled shelled or unshelled or sun-dried. The cooked soft inner kernel is edible with a pleasant mild Swiss-cheese flavor, consumed as an appetizer and believed to promote digestion and the counter the effects of excessive drinking.
• Ginkgo nuts, considered an oriental delicacy (silverfruits), are consumed in Chinese and Japanese rituals, feasts and weddings.
• When gathered, the fruits are either fermented in vats or water to remove the pulp, with its stinking odour suggestive of rancid butter, or buried to hasten the pulp’s decay. They are then washed and dried in the sun. Roasting or boiling the nuts, either shelled or in the shell, completes the task of getting rid of the unpleasant taste. The soft, inner kernel, when cooked, is edible, with a pleasant flavour similar to mild Swiss cheese - it is said to promote digestion and diminish the effects of too much drinking. Ginkgo nuts have a ritual significance in China and Japan, where they are consumed at feasts and weddings as an oriental delicacy called "silverfruits".
• Leaves are inserted between book pages to prevent insect infestation and damage.

Hematologic Effects / Platelet Activating Factor Binding Inhibition / Fibrinogen Lowering: Terpene lactones inhibit the binding of PAF (platelet-activating factor) to membrane receptors. (2) Ginkgo biloba extracts may lower serum fibrinogen concentration.
Antioxidant: In rabbit studies, Ginkgo biloba extracts demonstrated antioxidant properties with reduced superoxide release.
Raynaud's Disease: The use of Ginkgo biloba in Raynaud’s disease: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial : GB may be effective in reducing number of Raynaud's attacks per week.
Dementia Studies / Not Effective: In this study, G biloba at 120 mg twice daily was not effective in reducing either the overall incidence rate of dementia or Alzheimer's Dementia incidence in elderly individuals with normal cogniztion or those with MCI.
Commercial available as standardized Ginkgo biloba extracts (GBE) which is prepared from dried green leaves.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Ginkgo biloba for Prevention of Dementia - A Randomized Controlled Trial / Steven T Dekosky, MD, Jeff D Williamson MD et al /
JAMA. 2008;300(19):2253-2262.
Ginkgo biloba / Wikipedia
Ginkgo biloba - Overview / University of Maryland Medical Center
Clinical use of ginkgo biloba / UpToDate / Robert B Saper MD, Suzanne W Fletcher MD, Pracha Eamranond MD
The use of Ginkgo biloba in Raynaud’s disease: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial / Andrew J Muir, Rosaling Robb et al / Vascular Medicine, Vol. 7, No. 4, 265-267 (2002) / DOI: 10.1191/1358863x02vm455oa

Alzheimer's disease / MayoClinic

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