Monday, October 6, 2008

Ginkgo Biloba - Memory, FMS, Circulation, Depression

Ginkgo Biloba Extract (GBE) has been shown to have multiple benefits for memory and depression. These include:

• Decreasing the breast tenderness and mood shifts of PMS (Tamborini, A, et. al; Rev Fr Gynecol Obstet [France] 88-57; 1993).

• Helping to settle down dysequilibrium and vertigo (Haguenauer, J.P., et. al.; "Treatment Of Equilibrium Disturbances w/Ginkgo Biloba-A Multicenter, Placebo Controlled Study;" Presse Med 15:1569-72; 1986 and Smith, P.F., et al; "Can Vestibular Compensation be Enhanced by Drug Treatment: A Review of Recent Evidence;" J Vestib Res 4:169-179; 1994).

• Improving memory in healthy young volunteers and in the elderly. This has been shown in many placebo-controlled studies (e.g., Grassel, E.; "Effect of Ginkgo Biloba Extract on Mental Performance," Fortschr Med 110:73-6; 1992 and Hopfenmuller, W.; "Proof of the Therapeutic Effectiveness of a Ginkgo Biloba Extract - A Meta Analysis of 11 [Placebo Controlled] Trials in Aged Patients With Cerebral Insufficiency;" Arzneim-Forsch (Germany); 44:1005-1010; 1994 and Hindmarch, L.; "Activity of GBE on Short Term Memory," E.W. Fungfeld (ed) Op Cit; pp.321-326; 1988).

Many CFIDS/FMS patients also find that Ginkgo helps their memory. In 12 healthy males, 120-240mg GBE improved EEG alpha brain wave activity in a way supporting improved cognitive function (vs. placebo).

• In general, Ginkgo improves circulation in the brain and legs (in over 40 controlled studies). By improving circulation, Ginkgo may also decrease ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and headaches, as well as the finger artery spasm sometimes seen in SCIFDS (Raynaud's Syndrome). Ginkgo may also lower cholesterol and help angina.

• Treatment of asthma and bronchitis. In China, Ginkgo is made into a tea for this purpose.

• Helping depression (at 80mg 3 times a day). [Editor's Note: This European study was done with elderly patients.]

The Ginkgo you buy should be a 50:1 extract standardized to have 24% Glycosides (it will say this in the label). For most purposes, 40mg three times a day is the standard dose. Treating depression, however, requires 80mg, three times a day. It takes six weeks to see the effect of treatment. No serious side effects have been reported and there are no known drug interactions (side effects with Ginkgo were often actually less than the side effects seen with placebo).


Read about Ginkgo and Memory at their website. Keep in mind that Ginkgo decreases platelet aggregation (or acts as a natural blood thinner), so it should not be used by people taking blood-thinning drugs without the supervision of a doctor.

I personally use Ginkgo since one of the things associated with rheumatoid arthritis is poor memory and foggy thinking. I didn't realize how much it was going to help me with energy though. From the first day I used Ginkgo Biloba Time-Release I had extra energy in the afternoon. I'd been dragging from about 2 PM until bedtime. But what was really exciting was getting that 'sharp mind' feeling again. I noticed how much quicker I could process and how much clearer my thinking was.

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