Ginkgo

Nutritional Compound

OVERVIEW

Summary

Gingko is most widely used as a cognitive enhancer, especially by boomers seeking to prevent the mental decline that so often accompanies age. Highly revered for its ability to improve circulation and enhance memory, this herb may relieve some age-related mental challenges. If, on the other hand, you need to improve focus, concentration, and mental alertness in the gym or on the field, this “smart herb” may be worth trying.

Other names for Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba, maidenhair tree, GBE (Ginkgo biloba extract), EGb

Where to find Ginkgo

Ginkgo comes from the leaves of the longest living species of trees in the world — the Ginkgo tree.

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Ginkgo

While gingko is most widely known for its cognitive benefits for seniors, its array of potential benefits aren’t just for people who have celebrated their 50th birthdays, and it isn’t reserved for just lowered mental acuity either. In fact, this ancient plant has some effects athletes may find interesting, especially its ability to increase focus and alertness in the gym or on the field and its potential to boost intensity and mind-muscle connections. It has even been used for centuries as a natural sexual enhancer.

Ways that Ginkgo can enhance Mental Functioning:
  • Improve mental sharpness, concentration, and focus by increasing blood flow to the brain
Ways that Ginkgo can enhance Longevity:
  • As an antioxidant, prevent free-radical damage from occurring in the brain and enhance immune functioning
  • Deter age-related declines in memory by increasing oxygen and blood flow to the brain

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Ginkgo deficiency

No deficiency conditions are known to exist.

Potential uses for Ginkgo

Research indicates that Ginkgo may be useful in the treatment of:

  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
  • Hair and scalp disorders
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Asthma
  • Erectile dysfunction

DISCUSSION

More about Ginkgo

Used in Chinese herbal medicine for over 5,000 years, Ginkgo biloba still grows in temperate climates all over the world. Ginkgo leaf extract is highly revered for its ability to improve circulation and enhance memory, which may help relieve some age-related mental challenges and cognitive disorders. In fact, this is the most widely prescribed “medication” in Europe for these conditions, although it’s only recently been introduced to the U.S. supplement market as a “mind enhancer.”

While gingko is most widely known for its cognitive benefits for seniors, its array of potential benefits aren’t just for people who have celebrated their 50th birthdays, and it isn’t reserved for just lowered mental acuity either. In fact, this ancient plant has some effects athletes may find interesting, especially its ability to increase focus and alertness in the gym or on the field and its potential to boost intensity and mind-muscle connections. It has even been used for centuries as a natural sexual enhancer.


How it works

Ginkgo has been shown to improve blood flow, increasing circulation through even the smallest capillaries — including those in the brain and other organs — to the largest arteries, basically taking blood and nutrients where they’re most needed. This ability to deliver nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood throughout our bodies, and especially to the brain, is believed to account for gingko’s reputation as a cognitive enhancer that improves alertness, focus, and memory.

Preserve and restore brain power

The attraction to gingko’s potential to enhance “brain power” increases as people age. With increased age, blood flow to the brain becomes less efficient, presenting otherwise healthy people with significant challenges that are often accepted as part of the “normal” aging process. Ginkgo is believed by many experts to short-circuit this part of the aging process, preserving our normal mental functioning, which is why ginkgo was originally used as a tea to help seniors who were experiencing age-related cognitive decline. Thus, ginkgo has revealed its ability to prevent declines in brain functions, such as memory loss and concentration. Its been heavily studied for persons battling the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and is looking promising.

But ginkgo’s ability to improve blood flow and oxygen to the brain is not age-dependent. Ginkgo’s role as a potent brain antioxidant and its ability to increase levels of dopamine (a chemical found in the brain that improves our ability to transmit information) makes it clear that gingko is not just your grandma’s brain fuel.

Seniors can enjoy sexual enhancement too

As a sexual enhancer for the golden generation, ginkgo has been shown to be effective for helping senior men achieve erections and possibly assist in overcoming impotence. Just like every other body part, our sexual organs need adequate blood flow. Simply put, for a good erection and good sex, we need good circulation. And ginkgo will help put blood in the “right” places.

In conclusion

If you like the idea of having a mind that is even more useful than the one you have now… Or you think age is beginning to take its toll, and your memory and concentration is not what it used it to be… Or if you need to improve your intensity, focus, and mental alertness in the gym, you might try supplementing with what so many experts are now calling the “smart herb.”

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

Most research studies use 40 to 80 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract 3 times per day. Therapeutic amounts range up to 200 mg 3 times daily for age-related cognitive disorders (memory loss) and Alzheimer’s disease.

Note

A standardized form of ginkgo of 24% glycosides and 6% terpene lactones (more commonly referred to as a 24/6 form) is preferable.

Timing

Some experts suggest taking one dose 30 to 60 minutes before working out to help improve focus and alertness, although regular use of this herb is needed to realize this effect.

Important note

Ginkgo may need to be taken for six to eight weeks before benefits are apparent.

Synergists of Ginkgo

Ginkgo has been reported to work more effectively when combined with other cognitive-enhancing nutrients, e.g., 5-HTP, kava kava, and St. John’s wort.

Safety of Ginkgo

Extremely large amounts, over 600 mg per day, may cause diarrhea or vomiting.

If you are using or considering using prescription drugs, please consult with your health practitioner about possible contraindications with this herb.

Drugs that interact with Ginkgo

Gingko may thin the blood, much like aspirin, and should not be used by people using blood-thinning medications.

Toxicity of Ginkgo

No known toxicity.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Cohen, A.J., and Bartlik, B., “Ginkgo biloba for Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction,” J Sex Marital Ther 24.2 (1998) : 139-43.
  • DeFeudis, F., “Ginkgo biloba Extract (EGb 761),” Pharmacological Activities and Clinical Applications (Elsevier, Paris, 1991).
  • Halama, P., et al., “Disorders of Brain Performance of Vascular Origin. Randomized Double-Blind Study of the Effectiveness of Gingko biloba Extract,” Fortschr Med 106.19 (1988) : 408-12.
  • Itil, T.M., et al., “Central Nervous System Effects of Ginkgo biloba, a Plant Extract,” Am J Ther 3.1 (1996) : 63-73.
  • Maurer, K., et al., “Clinical Efficacy of Ginkgo biloba Special Extract EGb 761 in Dementia of the Alzheimer Type,” J Psychiatr Res 31.6 (1997) : 645-55.
  • Warot, D., et al., “Comparative Effects of Ginkgo biloba Extracts on Psychomotor Performances and Memory in Healthy Subjects,” Therapie 46.1 (1991) : 33-6.