I am going to tell you all about the wonderful botanical ingredient Ginkgo biloba. Also known as the maidenhair tree, ginkgo biloba is the world’s oldest living species of tree. Each individual tree can live for over a thousand years and grow up to 40 metres tall. Native to China, it also grows in America, Korea and closer to home in France. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years and is one of the most popular and well-known herbal ingredients used today. The leaves of the tree are used for their health-giving and medicinal properties.
Ginkgo has been traditionally used in China for more than four thousand years. The Chinese used it for its cognitive benefits, as a remedy for asthma and also ate the nuts for their ‘strengthening’ properties.
Today, scientists understand how ginkgo biloba works, and there are three key ways it produces beneficial effects in the body. Firstly it has a potent antioxidant effect, secondly it increases circulation and blood flow, and thirdly it makes blood less thick by mildly inhibiting blood platelets from clumping together.
Ginkgo biloba’s powerful antioxidant effect is due to the presence of high levels of flavonoids and other beneficial antioxidant substances called terpenoids. Antioxidants like these protect our cells, including the skin cells from environmental damage and the everyday ‘wear and tear’ that causes ageing. This damage is caused by ‘free radicals’ and the antioxidants literally mop them up to prevent them from causing damage. In addition, ginkgo can increase blood vessel dilation and stimulate blood flow to extremities of the body, including the skin. Improved circulation in the skin means more efficient delivery of oxygen and skin-feeding nutrients along with removal of waste products, which means less free radicals and healthier skin.
The effect on blood density means that ginkgo helps protect against circulatory diseases including atherosclerosis, or clogging of the arteries. Its antioxidant powers have been shown to help protect the blood vessels and cardiovascular system further, making it an all-round tonic for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
Ginkgo biloba keeps our eyes and vision healthy through its protective antioxidant effects. It has been shown to help improve vision and visual field damage in people suffering with the eye disease glaucoma1. There is also evidence that its eye protecting effects could benefit diabetics who routinely suffer with eye problems2 and also people with macular degeneration, a common age-related eye disease that can lead to blindness(3).
Ginkgo biloba’s ability to increase blood flow to the brain has been found in studies to enhance thinking ability and memory in healthy older adults. It is beneficial in helping to prevent age-related cognitive decline, which is the gradual reduction in brain function and memory that happens as we age. Studies have also found benefits for people suffering with anxiety and depression4 along with other more serious mental health and age-related brain conditions.
Other uses for ginkgo include for altitude sickness, vertigo, the skin complaint vitiligo and asthma. It is also commonly used in the treatment of migraines, PMS and tinnitus, although the scientific evidence is less conclusive for these conditions.
BEAUTY & GO SKIN VITALITY
Beauty & Go Vitality contains Ginkgo biloba along with other energising ingredients such as guarana, green tea, coenzyme Q10 and baobab. It makes the perfect ‘morning after’ energising pick-me-up, or for when you’ve had a few late nights and need a brain boost!
People taking blood-thinning medications should not take it regularly without consulting their doctor.
2. Lanthony P, Cosson JP. The course of color vision in early diabetic retinopathy treated with Ginkgo biloba extract. A preliminary double-blind versus placebo study. J Fr Ophtalmol 1988;11:671-4.
3. Lebuisson DA, Leroy L, Rigal G. Treatment of senile macular degeneration with Ginkgo biloba extract. A preliminary double-blind, drug versus placebo study. Presse Med 1986;15:1556-8.
4. Schubert H, Halama P. Depressive episode primarily unresponsive to therapy in elderly patients; efficacy of Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) in combination with antidepressants. Geriatr Forsch 1993;3:45-53.
5. Sohn M, Sikora R. Ginkgo biloba extract in the therapy of erectile dysfunction. J Sex Educ Ther 1991;17:53-61.
6. Cohen AJ, Bartlik B. Ginkgo biloba for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. J Sex Marital Ther 1998;24:139-43.