Ginkgo Biloba: How Is It Used In Our Diet?
If you are a student or admirer of traditional medicines then there is no doubt that you’ve run across references to Ginkgo biloba.
It is simply referred to as ginkgo, but it is known by other names, depending on where you live: Maidenhair tree, the silver apricot, the fossil tree, and yin hsing,
Gingko is one of the oldest living species of trees on the planet. In fact, the oldest recorded ginkgo tree dates back roughly 3,500 years.
Fast forward to today and ginkgo is still being used; mainly as a dietary supplement in the form of ginkgo biloba leaf extract.
Let’s explore further how this ancient tree is used as a beneficial supplement in our diets today.
Ginkgo Biloba in Today’s Diet
The most popular part of the gingko tree is the leaves. However, the female trees do produce a sort of fruit. Though it is not technically a fruit it is often described as such because of its apricot-like structure.
Even so, the fruit of the gingko tree is not very popular in modern cuisine. They are edible in moderation but most avoid it due to its pungent smell and unpleasant taste.
The nuts (seed) within the fruit are more popular for eating, but the popularity remains largely within East Asians countries as a toasted treat.
The seeds themselves are low fat and high in vitamin B3 (niacin). However, ginkgo seeds are often consumed in very low amounts due to mild toxicity.
Ginkgo Biloba Teas
One of the more popular uses for ginkgo is in the form of herbal tea; made from dried leaves. Many people use it to support mental clarity and focus as well as a source of antioxidants. It is said to have a fresh, natural, and mildly nutty taste.
Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract
Ginkgo’s most popular use in today’s time is as a dietary supplement — ginkgo biloba leaf extract. It is often used as a supplement in isolation but is also available in combination with other cognitive support supplements.
Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract
It’s popularity as a dietary supplement is not without merit. Ginkgo biloba leaf extract has some surprising health benefits, many of which having to do with its powerful antioxidant properties and role in cognitive support.
Let’s take some time and look at some of ginkgo biloba’s health benefits as a dietary supplement.
Ginkgo Biloba and Antioxidants
Ginkgo’s claim to fame in modern times has a lot to do with its antioxidant-rich properties. In short, antioxidants refer to molecules that roam and canvas the body in search of free radicals; the villains that cause oxidative stress.
Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress
In the body, when oxygen molecules split into single atoms they are left with unpaired electrons. These electrons are basically a waste substance. However, these free radical electrons don’t like being unpaired so they roam about the body seeking a bond.
As unstable molecules, free radicals can cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA, leading to illness and disease. This process is known as oxidative stress.
Ginkgo Biloba and Antioxidant Properties
Antioxidants, found in numerous plants, are molecules that help prevent the damage wrought by free radicals by effectively neutralizing them.
Ginkgo contains high levels of metabolites known as flavonoids and terpenoids, which contain strong antioxidant effects.
Antioxidants and Joint Irritation
Ginkgo’s antioxidative properties can also play a role in managing discomfort wrought by oxidative stress. Although irritation is part of the normal immune system response, discomfort is problematic; particularly on the tissues and organs.
Ginkgo Biloba and Cognitive Support
Perhaps the biggest reason for ginkgo biloba leaf extract’s popularity is due to its role in cognitive improvement and support in healthy individuals — memory, mental clarity and focus.
Ginkgo is often put into the category of nootropics, a class of supplements that can boost brain performance; also called cognitive enhancers.
In fact, a study from 2016 found that ginkgo biloba is “potentially beneficial” for the improvement of cognitive function; especially among those with mild cognitive impairments due to memory loss.
Ginkgo Biloba and Memory
One of the strongest cognitive effects of ginkgo biloba leaf extract supplementation is its potential role in boosting both long and short-term memory.
In fact, one six-week study measured cognitive (memory) performance in 188 middle-aged, healthy participants.
After six weeks, the ginkgo biloba extract group showed significant improvement in memory recall as opposed to the placebo group.
Ginkgo Biloba and Focus
Why can’t I focus? That is an all too familiar question asked by many people. Of course, there are many factors that can hinder your ability to concentrate.
Caffeine dependence could be one. Digital distractions that constantly demand our attention could be another. Other factors may include sleep deficiency caused by poor sleep habits and even poor diet.
Sometimes focus and concentration allude us even when our diet and sleep habits are in working order. Emotional stressors are usually the culprit — having our mind on other things. These can wreak havoc on the mind’s ability to focus.
How to Use Ginkgo Biloba
As discussed earlier, ginkgo biloba is often used as a dietary supplement — ginkgo biloba leaf extract. Although it can be found in isolation as a dietary supplement, it is also found in combination with another cognitive supporting supplement. Dosing varies, but typical amounts range between 50 – 60 mg per day.
As an herbal supplement, ginkgo biloba has few side effects and is considered safe for most people. Even so, it is always wise to consult your healthcare provider before starting any type of supplement.
If you are thinking about getting an all-natural cognitive support supplement, then consider our Mind capsules. Each capsule contains 50 mg of Ginkgo biloba leaf extract as well as other nootropic supplements that help sharpen concentration and help support cognitive function; St. John’s wort, Bacopa monnieri leaf extract, and more.
Ginkgo biloba, though rising in popularity, is not new on the scene. It is clear that its medicinal uses in traditional medicine were not without merit. Some parts of the tree can be consumed, but its modern use is most popular as a tea or dietary supplement; as ginkgo biloba leaf extract.
It is well known for being a plant that is rich in antioxidants; thanks to its flavonoids and terpenoids. These have tremendous benefits for the fight against free radicals and oxidative stress.
However, its most popular benefit has to do with its role in cognitive support. Of course, research is always ongoing, but we have seen its benefits for memory, mental clarity, and focus.
Although ginkgo biloba is considered ancient, its benefits are well suited for modern times.
The antioxidant activity of standardized extract of Ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) in rats | NCBI
Ginkgo biloba for cognitive improvement in healthy individuals | NCBI
Ginkgo Biloba for Mild Cognitive Impairment | NCBI
Specific memory effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 in middle-aged healthy volunteers