Great for Mood, Headaches, PMS, & More!

Amazing Wellness - - FRONT PAGE - By Ann Her­mann

Ginkgo ( Ginkgo biloba) is the sole sur­vivor of the old­est known tree genus, Ginkgoaceae, which dates back more than 200 mil­lion years. “Per­haps its sta­tus as a ver­i­ta­ble liv­ing fos­sil ac­counts for its re­mark­able abil­ity to help with mem­ory and re­call,” quips herbal­ist Rose­mary Glad­star in her book Herbs for Com­mon Ail­ments. More likely, it’s the unique com­bi­na­tion of cir­cu­la­tion-en­hanc­ing, cell-pro­tec­tive an­tiox­i­dants and phe­no­lic com­pounds in ginkgo that make it a cel­e­brated mem­ory booster. But there’s so much more to this multi-task­ing herb. Ginkgo has been found to ben­e­fit a long list of con­di­tions, in­clud­ing ring­ing in the ears, chronic fa­tigue syn­drome, and eye con­di­tions such as glau­coma. Some other lesser-known ben­e­fits:


Ginkgo con­tains a com­pound called kaempferol, con­sid­ered an MAOI (monoamine ox­i­dase in­hibitor). MAO (monoamine ox­i­dase) is an en­zyme that breaks down feel-good neu­ro­trans­mit­ters such as sero­tonin and dopamine. MAOIs stop this break­down from hap­pen­ing—the same mech­a­nism by which many an­tide­pres­sants work. Th e ef­fects are sub­tle, so it is rec­om­mended to com­bine ginkgo with other mood-boost­ing sup­ple­ments such as rho­di­ola, ty­ro­sine, and 5-HTP.


A six-month study of college-aged women with pre­men­strual syn­drome (PMS), pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Com­ple­men­tary Medicine, con­cludes that ginkgo can re­duce the sever­ity of PMS symp­toms. Par­tic­i­pants were ran­domly as­signed to ei­ther a placebo or 40 mg ginkgo leaf ex­tract sup­ple­ments three times per day. Al­though both groups re­ported a de­crease in the sever­ity of symp­toms, the mean de­crease was sig­nif­i­cantly more in the ginkgo group com­pared to the placebo group. “Ginkgo has shown ef­fec­tive for PMS in sev­eral clin­i­cal stud­ies, re­duc­ing the sever­ity of PMS symp­toms in­clud­ing breast ten­der­ness and con­ges­tion, fa­tigue, mood swings, anx­i­ety, headache, and mus­cle dis­com­fort,” says Mary Bove, ND, an herbal­ist and natur­o­pathic physi­cian with more than 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence, and di­rec­tor of med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion for Gaia Herbs in Bre­vard, N.C. Bove rec­om­mends tak­ing ginkgo for sev­eral months when ad­dress­ing PMS.


Ginkgo acts as a bron­chodila­tor. It has been used to treat asthma and bron­chi­tis as far back as 2600 BC, and is thought to work by de­creas­ing in­flam­ma­tion and re­duc­ing hy­per­re­spon­sive­ness (char­ac­ter­ized by air­way wall and lung tis­sue in­flam­ma­tion). “Ginkgo re­duces bronchial air­way hy­per­ac­tiv­ity via its ac­tion on re­duc­ing platelet-ac­ti­vat­ing fac­tor,” says Bove. One study in­di­cated that pa­tients who used ginkgo showed a 10–15 per­cent im­prove­ment in lung func­tion com­pared to those tak­ing a placebo over a 4- to 8-week pe­riod.


Ginkgo is a nat­u­ral va­sodila­tor, blood­thin­ner, and an­ti­co­ag­u­lant, all of which can help to re­lieve headaches. Anec­do­tal ev­i­dence sup­ports headache re­lief at around 60 mg. One study pub­lished in Neu­ro­log­i­cal Sciences looked at 50 women who suf­fered from mi­graines who were given ginkgo sup­ple­ments over a pe­riod of four months. Th e to­tal num­ber of mi­graine

at­tacks was sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced. “With mi­graine headache,” says Bove, “ginkgo can re­duce platelet ac­cu­mu­la­tion and stick­i­ness, re­duc­ing mi­graine at­tacks and pain. Headaches re­lated to poor cir­cu­la­tion or vas­cu­lar con­stric­tion can be aided by ginkgo’s ac­tion to im­prove cere­bral cir­cu­la­tion, act­ing to re­duce free-rad­i­cal pro­duc­tion and ox­i­da­tion.”


Ginkgo has been shown to im­prove blood pres­sure and vas­cu­lar di­la­tion, both of which im­prove blood fl ow to the pe­nis. For many men, erec­tile dys­func­tion (ED) is also an in­di­ca­tor of poor heart health; there is a close re­la­tion­ship be­tween blood fl ow, heart health, and the abil­ity to get and main­tain an erec­tion. Th ere is some ev­i­dence that ginkgo may also help to boost testos­terone. “Th e va­sodila­tory ef­fects of ginkgo act to im­pact sex­ual dys­func­tion due to com­pro­mised cir­cu­la­tion,” says Bove. “In fact, many men do not re­al­ize that ED is a sign of cir­cu­la­tion com­pro­mise. Ginkgo has also been help­ful for ED due to the side ef­fects of an­tide­pres­sant drugs.”

Use stan­dard­ized cap­sules, tinc­tures, or teas. Rec­om­mended dosages range from 60 mg to 600 mg daily. “Ginkgo must be used with con­sis­tency for sev­eral weeks be­fore you will no­tice ben­e­fits,” says Glad­star. Some re­search has sug­gested the pos­si­bil­ity of liver dam­age with long-term use. How­ever, crit­ics point out that the dosages used in the 2013 stud­ies were much higher than would be taken as a sup­ple­ment, and the re­search was con­ducted on rats. A more re­cent sur­vey that eval­u­ated data of nearly 30,000 adults, pub­lished in Reg­u­la­tory Tox­i­col­ogy and Phar­ma­col­ogy, con­tra­dicts those fi nd­ings.

Th e re­view con­cludes that mod­er­ate doses of com­mer­cial prepa­ra­tions of ginkgo do not al­ter mark­ers of liver func­tion, while al­co­hol in­take does. Th e re­searchers stated, “Th e data pre­sented show mod­er­ate al­co­hol con­sump­tion al­ters biomark­ers of liver func­tion, but the herbal di­etary sup­ple­ment Ginkgo biloba, in for­mu­la­tions and doses typ­i­cally con­sumed by adult Amer­i­cans, does not af­fect the same en­zymes.”

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