What Ginkgo Can Help To Prevent Heart Disease?

 By: Ng Peng Hock
Being one of the oldest living tree species, ginkgo trees ranged throughout temperate regions of the world some 50 million years ago. Nevertheless, one species, Ginkgo biloba, native to southeast China, survived the millennia while all others went extinct. Ginkgo has become one of the well-researched herbs in the world.

Ginkgo seeds have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Its ability to treat circulatory disorders and enhancing memory has been supported from scientific studies throughout the years.

However, the most extensively used and studied in medical purposes is Ginkgo's leave. Ginkgo leaves are not frequently used in their crude state. Rather, they are used in the form of a concentrated, standardized Ginkgo Biloba Extract (GBE). In the last 30 years, more that 300 studies have given clinical evidence that ginkgo prevents and benefits many problems throughout the entire body.

Ginkgo is used extensively as a brain tonic that enhances memory because of its positive effects on the vascular system. It is also used to treat vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and a variety of neurological disorders and circulation problems. Ginkgo may help to counteract the effects of aging, including mental fatigue and lack of energy.

Ginkgo can also be used to prevent and overcome problems related to heart disease. Standardized GBE inhibits platelet activity factor (PAF), which is a common allergen in the body. Physical stress, and poor quality food can over-stimulate PAF production, I other words, blood clotting. Excessive PAF can cause cardiovascular disease, brain damage, hearing disorders, and other immune and inflammatory diseases.

Ginkgo can also act as a powerful antioxidant that can protect the eyes, cardiovascular system and central nervous system. Ginkgo may also help control the transformation of cholesterol to plaque associated with the hardening of arteries, and can relax constricted blood vessels.

The herb has also been used in treatment of other circulation-related disorders such as diabetic peripheral vascular disease, Raynaud's syndrome, hemorrhoids and varicose veins. It can also aid in the treatment of insufficient circulation and complications from stroke and skull injuries.

Ginkgo can also be beneficial in treating eye and ear disorders. Studies have confirmed that ginkgo increases blood flow to the retina, and hence can slow retinal deterioration resulting in an increase of visual acuity. In clinical tests, ginkgo has improved hearing loss in the elderly. It also helps improve circulation in relieving cold hands and feet, swelling in the limbs and chronic arterial blockage.

Ginkgo is being investigated as a potential treatment to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs, as a treatment for asthma, and for toxic shock syndrome.

GBE is considered to be safe with very rare side effects, but there were still few cases of gastrointestinal upset, headaches, skin reactions, and dizziness being reported. Because of its ability to decrease platelet aggregation (stickiness), there is some concern that it may increase risk of intracranial (brain) hemorrhage. So, if you are treated with blood thinning or other medications, you should seek advice from your doctors before using ginkgo. It is also advised by experts that ginkgo should not be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women, and should be discontinued at least 36 hours prior to surgery due to the risk of bleeding complications.
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