Ginkgo biloba (Japanese ginkgo) – medicinal substances, pharmacological action
Ginkgo biloba (Japanese ginkgo) is one of the most important plants used for years with memory disorders and difficulties with concentration. This long-lived tree, living up to 2000 years, is considered a symbol of strength and resistance to adverse environmental conditions in the Far East. The natural environment in which ginkgo trees grow wild is the mountainous terrain of western China.
- Ginkgo biloba – healing substances
Part of the plant used for medicinal purposes is ginkgo leaf (Bilobae folium). Most often it’s a fragmented (rarely whole) leaf containing at least the chemical compounds called flavonoid glycosides with a concentration of at least 0.5%. The group of these compounds includes: ginkgetin, biletin, and apigenin. The next group of substances contained in the Ginkgo biloba leaf extract are terpenes. Among them, ginkgolides and bilobalide should be mentioned. The medicinal raw material also has numerous chemical compounds with a slightly lower medicinal value. These are organic acids, plant hormones (sitosterols) and polysaccharides.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Ginkgo biloba in the treatment of dementia (impairment of mental capacity of the elderly) and cerebral circulatory disorders. The influence of flavonoid glycosides on the improvement of cognitive functions (perception, attention, abstraction) has been demonstrated. Particular medicinal properties of Ginkgo biloba have a chemical substance belonging to the group of terpenes – bilobalid. It has an action that inhibits the death of nerve cells, so-called anti-apoptotic effect (apoptosis – programmed cell death). The discovery of this property gives hope for new therapeutic methods in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Another mechanism of action of the extracted substances from the leaves of Ginkgo biloba is the protection of nerve cells against the action of free radicals, stimulation of the release of neurotransmitters in the brain and inhibition of their breakdown. A special property of these active substances is their strong anti-LDL lipoprotein (so-called bad cholesterol) oxidation. It’s an extremely important anti-atherosclerotic factor.
After several weeks of treatment with ginkgo extract, the study showed an increase in blood flow through the cerebral vessels, which is important in antidiarrheal prophylaxis. The active compounds contained in the leaves of Ginkgo biloba also cause a significant increase in the production of nitric oxide (NO) in the blood vessels, leading to their extension. The effect of this is to reduce the resistance in the vessels through which blood flows and a gentle reduction in blood pressure. Increased synthesis of tissue hormone, so-called prostacyclin deepens diastolic blood vessels and reduces blood viscosity by preventing platelets from clumping (thrombocytes). This action is called anti-aggregation and is very important in prophylactic and anti-prudent prevention.
The flavonoid compounds contained in ginkgo preparations reduce the permeability and improve the elasticity of the blood vessel walls of the brain, ultimately leading to an increase in the amount of oxygen and glucose delivered to the nerve cells and the cells of the inner ear. Beneficial effects on the inner ear cells contribute to the correction of mild imbalances.
- Ginkgo biloba – facts from the conducted research
At the Faculty of Health Sciences of Liberty University in Lynchburg, USA, 262 healthy volunteers (both men and women), over 60 years of age, were tested. Before the study, dementia was excluded in these individuals. Subjects received a daily dose of 180 mg extract of ginkgo biloba leaves for six weeks. After the examination, the thought processes of these people – although not previously disturbed – significantly improved. This has been proven by performing neuropsychological tests on people previously treated.
This study proves the effectiveness of Ginkgo biloba preparations not only in patients with a significant reduction in mental performance, but also in healthy people who want to improve the ability to remember and focus. The condition for achieving improvement is taking the medicine with Ginkgo biloba at the right dose and for a limited time.Posted on: April 27, 2018