Gingko biloba is not a new herb and its uses can be traced back to the days of the Egyptians. Today, it remains one of the highest selling of all health food supplements. Some of the more common names by which gingko is known as include: Gincosan ®, ginkgo balm, Ginkgo biloba blätter, Ginkgo folium, Ginkgo Go®, Ginkgo Phytosome®, Ginkgo Powder®, ginkgopower, Ginkopur®, ginkyo, Herbal vX®, , Japanese silver apricot, kew tree, etc .
Gingko has been claimed to cure a variety of medical disorders including peripheral vascular disease, ringing of the ears, Alzheimer’s dementia, stroke, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, premenstrual syndrome, depression, anxiety and headache. In the last few years, the manufacturers of this herb claim that gingko can also enhance memory, improve concentration and relieves fatigue.
The majority of these claims are simply hyped up sales pitches by the manufacturers because there is very little clinical evidence that the herb can treat so many medical disorders. In fact, more recent scientific studies indicate that the herb is not as safe as what was first believed. Reports about excessive bleeding after minor trauma or surgery are increasing when taking gingko.
what can gingko be used to treat?
There is some data that gingko may be of benefit in people who develop muscle cramps or claudication. This disorder is common in smokers and there are reports that gingko can help relieve the cramps which occur while walking. However, gingko alone is not helpful but has to be combined with exercise or aspirin for the maximal benefit.
There is also some evidence that suggest that gingko can help improve memory, concentration and cognition in patients with mild or early stage dementia. The studies so far have been done only in a few people and long term results remain unknown. Gingko has been of no value in patients with moderate to severe dementia.
In Europe gingko has been widely used to treat patients who have had strokes and the data are difficult to interpret. Some reports claim that patients with mild stroke do improve after consuming gingko whereas other studies show no response. More studies are needed before gingko can be recommended for treating stroke patients.
Clinical disorders where gingko has been recommended but there is no evidence include hemorrhoids, other dementias, mountain sickness, asthma, heart disease, varicose veins, cocaine or other drug addictions, deafness, depression, stomach cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, premenstrual syndrome, tinnitus, schizophrenia, diabetes, stroke or sexual dysfunction.
The dose of gingko is anywhere from 80-240 mg taken in 3 divided doses. Gingko is also available in a tea bag form and contains 30 mg. Gingko seeds are highly toxic and not recommended. A few years go the German gingko product, tebonin, for intravenous use was taken off the market because of toxicity.
Gingko is a fairly safe product when used in small amounts. However a few reported side effects include development of allergies, skin rashes and blisters. The other side effects include headache, nausea and abdominal cramps.
Bleedings is the most common reported side effect and the herb must be stopped prior to any type of surgery or dental procedure. There are also reports that gingko can severely drop blood sugar levels in diabetic and cause hypoglycemic attacks. Gingko has not been thoroughly evaluated in pregnant women and those who are breast feeding.
For the moment, low dose of gingko can be safely taken by individuals who have claudication and mild Alzheimer's dementia.
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