Traditional Chinese Medicine – Ginkgo

The Ginkgo tree is perhaps the oldest tree in existence throughout the world and the Chinese have used the ginkgo trees seeds dating back hundreds of years in their practice of herbal medicine. Common names for the ginkgo tree are maidenhair tree, silver apricot and Kew tree and the trees leafs and seeds are now widely used in a variety of herbal remedies.

Remedies which have the ginkgo tree extract as one of the main ingredients are now thought to be the number one best selling remedies in the UK and is in the top 5 of all prescriptions written in France and Germany.

How is the ginkgo tree used?

The seeds from the tree have been used for thousands of years in ancient Chinese remedies, the Chinese are known also to cook the seeds and eat them to maintain health and vigour. More recently, the extract from the leaves have been used to help alleviate and treat a wide variety of ailments including asthma, bronchitis, chronic fatigue and tinnitus.

Studies have also shown that the extract from the leaves can help with improving the memory and has been used to help with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia along with improving the circulation of the blood.

In Alzheimer’s, studies showed that people suffering from the disease showed improvement in thinking and learning as well as improved memory, social behaviour and problems relating from depression also improved. More and more studies are now being conducted into a wider range of problems and illnesses and the beneficial effects the ginkgo extract has on these problems.

How is ginkgo used?

Extracts are taken from the ginkgo leaf and are then used in a wide variety of ways including tablet, capsule or tea forms, the seeds can also be crushed and used or as the Chinese did they can be cooked whole and used in salads. Some care should be taken however and ginkgo should only be used when prescribed by a Chinese herbal practitioner or Doctor and not eaten freely as part of the diet.

Are there any side effects to taking ginkgo?

Even though ginkgo extract is used widely in Chinese medicine and is available for many different ailments and conditions there can still be a few side effects from herbal remedies. Some common side effects that may occur with ginkgo are headache, nausea and vomiting or the onset of a rash.

People who are on medication such as anticoagulant drugs and have bleeding disorders or who are scheduled to have surgery should use ginkgo with caution and it is in your best interest to talk with a herbal practitioner or health care provider if you fall into these categories to be on the safe side.