The last survivor of an ancient tree family, Ginko Biloba holds a special place as a nootropic substance. For many years all forms of Ginko were believed to be extinct, that is until small plantations were discovered in Eastern China. It now appears that these Ginko Biloba trees were planted intentionally by monks over a period of a thousand years or more.
The foresight of those monks means that the world now has access to what is a truly prehistoric plant. Most forms of Ginko died out in the Pliocene era, between 1.8 and 5.3 million years ago.
The discovery of Ginko Biloba trees in Eastern China heralded a surge in popularity. Ginko trees can now be found throughout much of Asia where they have proven to be very hardy, especially in high population areas plagued with smog and other forms of pollution. Ginko Biloba trees are so hardy that they were among the very few survivors of the Atom bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. In fact, those very same trees which withstood the incredible radioactive explosion that destroyed a generation are still alive and well today.
Ginko Biloba Benefits
Ginko Biloba is regarded by traditional herbalists as being an excellent nootropic capable of enhancing memory and concentration. For this reason, it is an ingredient in many energy drinks the world over.
The Science of Ginko Biloba
The science around Ginko Biloba effects is murky, however. Some studies indicate that it does indeed possess nootropic abilities, others assert that it has little to no effect on human cognitive abilities. Studies have been conducted to determine whether or not Ginko Biloba could be useful in combating Alzheimer’s, and in 2004 conference papers were released which referenced trials indicating that Ginko Biloba may have some potential to aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s. In 2008 another study concluded that Ginko Biloba had no effect on existing dementia, however.
Of the studies which have returned positive results it would seem that Ginko Biloba has three potential mechanisms of action:
- Increasing blood flow
- Protection against free radicals (ionized agents which attack healthy brain matter and destroy the cells, slowly robbing a person of their cognitive abilities.)
- Blockage of platelet activating factors (ie, the agents which cause blood clots)
Ginko Biloba Warnings
Because of Ginko Biloba potential effects on the body, some people are not good candidates for Ginko Biloba. People who should avoid this plant include those with preexisting blood disorders, particularly those taking blood thinners. Ginko Biloba is also not recommended for pregnant women, nor anyone taking anti-depressants.
Potential Side Effects
Though Ginko Biloba is generally considered to be relatively safe for the majority of the population, it can cause the following side effects:
- Stomach Ache
- Heart Palpitations
If any of these symptoms are experienced whilst consuming Ginko Biloba, stop immediately and do not resume. Some are more sensitive to Ginko Biloba extract than others.