Ginkgo - Ginkgo biloba (in the Ginkgoaceae or Ginkgo family)
Parts used: Leaf.
Taste/smell: Slightly sour taste.
Dosage: Infusion: 1 tablespoon per cup of water; or 1:1 fresh + dry strength liquid extract: 20-60 drops 1-4 times per day.
Mental picture and specific indications: Ginkgo is indicated when the individual has debilitated peripheral circulation to the limbs and head because it increases circulation to all peripheral parts of the body.
Use: (a) Increases blood flow peripherally to the limbs and brain, (b) Decreases the time it takes for re-innervation of muscles following traumatic nerve damage, (c) Antioxidant, (d) Anti-inflammatory, (e) Antithrombotic (f) Antiatherosclerotic, (g) Antagonist to platelet activating factor.
Clinically, Ginkgo is used for cerebral vascular insufficiency and impaired mental performance. It has the ability to increase blood flow to the brain, especially in the elderly, decrease platelet aggregation and prevent strokes and other diseases related to emboli. It has been successfully used for migraines due to its ability to stabilize platelets and serotonin levels in the brain, thereby normal
izing blood flow. Ginkgo has shown to be beneficial in cases of senile dementia and may delay mental deterioration in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. It enhances memory. Ginkgo is used in treating tinnitus, vertigo and cochlear deafness. It is also used for diabetic retinopathy, retinal insufficiency, macular degeneration, cataracts, intermittent claudication, Raynauds disease, varicose veins, generalized peripheral arteriopathy, and erectile dysfunction. Ginkgo can be used when microcirculation needs to be increased. Ginkgo is currently being studied as an antagonist to platelet activating factor. This possibility could decrease rejection in cardiac and renal transplants and also protect the kidney transplant against cyclosporin damage. Note: Cyclosporin is used as an immune depressant to decrease the chance of rejection of the transplanted organ. The platelet activating factor antagonist action has also proven useful in sepsis syndrome and bronchial asthma. An additional use for ginkgo may be protection against radiation-induced injuries as shown in the use of ginkgo following the Chernobyl disaster.
The young fruits and the fruit seed have traditionally been used medicinally in the East; however the use of the leaves is recent and came from western research on particular constituents in the ginkgo leaves. The principle constituents that were found to have appreciable medicinal effects are the terpene lactones, ginkgolide A, B, C and bilobalide and the flavongylcosides, quercetin, kaempferol and isohamnetin.
Contraindications: It may cause gastrointestinal upset, headaches and increased bleeding time, including lengthening the menstruation cycle, increasing menstrual flow, inducing breakthrough bleeding or increasing wound bleeding time. Bleeding time will return to normal 10-12 days after discontinuing the herb. Contraindicated in hemophilia. Ginkgolide B may also prevent ovulation through its activity as a PAF antagonist and create anovulatory menstrual cycles. Note: PAF is secreted by the ovary to allow release of the egg.