Updated: 6 days ago
Recently, I went on a fascinating trip to Brazil, where we visited the Amazon Rainforest. Brazil is home to a diverse range of medicinal plants, many of which are used in traditional and alternative medicine. I learned about the herbs the locals use for their health perks, and how these herbs are used in local medicines. It amazed me that these remedies were so effective at their job!
When I got back home, I decided to dive deeper into the realm of naturally-found plants and herbs used for their astonishing ability to improve one’s life. One result came up on Google that stuck out to me; the Ginkgo Biloba herb is often marketed as a way to improve memory, concentration, and cognitive function. Traditional Chinese medicine is used as a treatment for age-related neurodegenerative disorders.
Miracle Medicine - Ginkgo Biloba
The Ginkgo Biloba (family Ginkgoaceae) is known for being the oldest living tree species. This intrigued me further and encouraged me to find out more about its origins and how it is used in herbal products. Originating in China, Japan, and Korea, Ginkgo has been used since ancient times for its remarkable curative benefits. Additionally, the plant has been spread and utilized across the Asian continent in Iran, for its memory improvement capabilities. In modern-day, its main use is for the alleviation of cognitive-related disorders and physical issues that arise as one ages.
The actual Ginkgo tree where the supplement is harvested from can grow up to 120 feet tall and live up to 1000 years! This tree bears fruits that contain poisonous seeds within them. The Ginkgo tree is often planted in cities due to its immense durability in any season or weather. Furthermore, it is extremely tolerant of polluted/urban soil, as well as the hazardous atmospheric conditions of urban areas. Ginkgo is hugely valued for being a fungus/insect-resistant tree, making it even better of a candidate for being planted in cities, due to the little maintenance required to sustain its growth.
Ginkgo has a multitude of medicinal and restorative benefits. Recently, Ginkgo Biloba Extract has been used to treat health problems, giving rise to astounding results. This extract is created from the dried green leaves of a Ginkgo tree and is mainly used to treat circulatory and mental problems. A common use for the Ginkgo Biloba Extract is for its memory-related benefits. According to a thorough experiment by ncbi.org, “...enhanced memory retention in young and old rats and improved short-term memory in mice.” These mice were given the Ginkgo Biloba Extract and the results demonstrated an improvement in cognitive ability overall. This is what Ginkgo is best known for in modern-day — its innate ability to treat memory and circulatory-related disorders such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, etc. Although not all scholars agree with this data, research provides substantial evidence for improved cognitive results from people with Alzheimer’s disease after taking Ginkgo Biloba Extract supplements.
Science Behind It:
From all this, it is clear that this tree must be some sort of miracle plant! But how exactly does the Ginkgo Biloba provide these health perks? There are two main components of Ginkgo that allow it to provide such unique benefits: terpenoids and flavonoids. Terpenoids are used to improve blood flow in the circulatory system. This happens because terpenoids dilate blood vessels, and reduce the stickiness of platelets found in blood (platelets are the reason that blood clots are formed). Terpenoids are the reason for Ginkgo’s exceptional capacity to resolve circulatory issues. Also, flavonoids are naturally found in various fruits and vegetables, and they are used to fight off free radicals found in the body as someone ages. Free radicals are particles responsible for a myriad of age-related diseases (cancer, Alzheimer’s, asthma, and more), and they build up in the body over time. Flavonoids allow Ginkgo to protect the body’s nerves, blood vessels, and retina from harm. These antioxidants found in the herb protect the body’s DNA and cells from damage.
In summary, this incredible herb is used in medicines and pharmaceuticals far and wide. Its outstanding remedial abilities from resolving circulatory issues to cognitive problems have made Ginkgo one of the most popular medicinal plants used worldwide As concluding remarks, I'll share this picture I took from the oldest botanical garden in Rio de Janeiro Brazil which was visited by Charles Darwin's during his 4 years stay in the Amazon that inspired the book The Origin of Species. I am immensely grateful for my experience in Brazil which has motivated me to research more about medicinal plants worldwide. I'll continue to research further & publish my findings in this monthly STEM blog "for my peers"
Encyclopedia Britannica, Editors, editor. "Ginkgo Tree." www.britannica.com/plant/ginkgophyte.
Gilman, Edward F., and Dennis G. Watson. "Ginkgo Biloba, Maidenhair Tree." Forest Service Department of Agriculture, 1 Nov. 1993, hort.ifas.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/ginbila.pdf.
Mount Sinai. www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/ginkgo-biloba.
Sun ZK, Yang HQ, Chen SD. Traditional Chinese medicine: a promising candidate for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Transl Neurodegener. 2013 Feb 28;2(1):6. doi: 10.1186/2047-9158-2-6. PMID: 23445907; PMCID: PMC3599149.
"You Need Not Be Old or Ill to Benefit from Ginkgo Biloba."