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Is Gingko Effective For Memory?

One of the most popular herbal supplements, gingko has been used as a traditional medicinal herb for thousands of years especially by the Chinese. Gingko biloba, also called maidenhair tree is a hardy tree that is unique in the sense that it has no known close living relative. The leaves are also unique in shape—fan shaped with veins that radiate out onto the blade of the leaf. Aside from being used as a medicinal supplement, gingko also has culinary uses especially around Asia. The nuts are usually used in traditional Asian cooking particularly in China and Japan, and the leaves can be used as tea.
The part of the plant that is used is the leaf, and is most known for its benefits on improving memory and concentration. Regular consumption of gingko extracts are also said to lessen the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.

Gingko is also known as an herbal alternative to easing asthma and bronchitis. It is also closely tied to improving circulation, easing varicose veins, reducing inflammation, and even improving sexual functions. It has also been a popular choice of herb for relieving tinnitus, but recent scientific studies discourage people from using gingko for this ailment.

Gingko proponents have been advocating for the use of the “wonder leaf” for numerous illnesses. It is one of the most studied herbs in the world, but so far studies suggest that the effects of gingko, at least as far as improvement of memory goes is mostly the placebo effect. On a study done on the memory enhancement effect of gingko, 3,000 adults over the age of 75 were asked to take 240 mg of gingko daily over a period of 6 years, and no improvement on memory or on the slowing of cognitive decline has been recorded.

Side effects of taking gingko include headaches, dizziness, upset stomach, diarrhea and allergies. Gingko is also thought to increase the risk of bleeding, so people who are about to undergo surgery, who suffer from bleeding disorders or who are about to have their tooth extracted are advised against taking it. Raw gingko seeds also contain a toxin called gingkotoxin which may be very dangerous and can cause seizures and even death. Care should be taken when handling the fruit of the gingko tree as it can also cause skin reactions.

Before taking any complementary and alternative medicines such as gingko biloba, consult with your doctor to make sure that it is safe for you. Some herbal supplements may interact with prescription medications or may decrease its effectiveness, so use gingko biloba with caution.