Saturday, 12 December 2015

Health Benefits of Gingko

Top 5 Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is the oldest living tree species – the tree could live up to 1,000 years. More than 40 components of the ginkgo biloba tree have been isolated and identified, but only two of them -- flavonoids and terpenoids -- are believed to account for Ginkgo biloba’s beneficial health effects.

Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants, and studies have revealed that flavonoids protect the nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels, and retina from damage. Terpenoids aid blood flow by dilating the blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of platelets.

Ginkgo biloba’s natural health benefits have been recognized by practitioners of traditional medicine. They use the health benefits to treat circulatory disorders and enhance memory. The top five health benefits of ginkgo biloba are:
  • Dementia and Alzheimer's disease
  • Intermittent Claudication
  • Glaucoma
  • Memory Enhancement
  • Macular Degeneration
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Ginkgo Biloba: Health Benefits, Uses, Risks
Ginkgo Biloba trees can live for thousands of years

Ginkgo biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree, is one of the oldest species of trees on the planet. The tree is considered to be a "living fossil", meaning that it has continued to survive even after major extinction events.

Ginkgo trees have very unique properties - they are capable of growing more than 130 feet and can live for over one thousand years. In fact, there are some trees in China are said to be over 2,500 years old.

The plant has a number of therapeutic properties and contains high levels of flavonoids and terpenoids, these are antioxidants that provide protection against oxidative cell damage from harmful free radicals.

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Ginkgo biloba, The Great Miracle
Ginkgo tree over 50 years old at the end of April

Ginkgo biloba is a unique tree without any living botanical relatives. It has been classified in a separate division Ginkgophyta, which contains the class of Ginkgoopsida, order of Ginkgoales, family of Ginkgoaceae, genus Ginkgo, and to this day it is the only living species belonging to this division. Ginkgo biloba is one of the most well-known examples of "a living fossil."

For many centuries the species was considered extinct in the wild, but we now know that undomesticated Ginkgo trees currently exist in at least two small areas in Eastern China. However, since these areas have been inhabited by humans for several thousands of years, the "undomesticated" status of these trees is debatable. Ginkgo is being grown worldwide in parks and gardens, since it is excellent at coping with toxic city environments and pests. Four Ginkgo trees have survived after the atomic explosion in Hiroshima, only about 1-2 km away from the site of the explosion. In Bulgaria Ginkgo is relatively rare as a decorative and/or park tree.

Ginkgo is a dioecious plant, which means that some of the specimens are female, and others are male. Male trees produce small green-yellow pollen cones looking like catkins each about 1.2-2.2 cm. Ginkgo is a gymnosperm: its seeds are not situated within a fruit that ripens. Instead, each seed has its own fleshy casing which protects the germ from harmful impact. The small silvery-yellow-orange balls resembling a plum or apricot (1.5-2 cm in size) produced by the female tree are not fruits, but ovules. After pollination occurs, they transform into seeds which consist of 3 layers: a soft fleshy casing (sarcotesta), a solid layer (sclerotesta) which resembles the shell of pistachios, and the innermost layer-nut (endotesta), which contain the germ encased in nutritive tissue. This is where the name of the tree comes from: the phrase "silvery apricot," which is pronounced "ginkyo" in Japanese.

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Ginkgo biloba
Mature tree

Ginkgo biloba, known as ginkgo or gingko and also as the maidenhair tree, is the only living species in the division Ginkgophyta, all others being extinct. It is recognizably similar to fossils dating back 270 million years. Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated and was introduced early to human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food.

Ginkgos are large trees, normally reaching a height of 20–35 m (66–115 ft), with some specimens in China being over 50 m (160 ft). The tree has an angular crown and long, somewhat erratic branches, and is usually deep rooted and resistant to wind and snow damage. Young trees are often tall and slender, and sparsely branched; the crown becomes broader as the tree ages. During autumn, the leaves turn a bright yellow, then fall, sometimes within a short space of time (one to 15 days). A combination of resistance to disease, insect-resistant wood and the ability to form aerial roots and sprouts makes ginkgos long-lived, with some specimens claimed to be more than 2,500 years old.

Ginkgo is a relatively shade-intolerant species that (at least in cultivation) grows best in environments that are well-watered and well-drained. The species shows a preference for disturbed sites; in the "semiwild" stands at Tian Mu Shan, many specimens are found along stream banks, rocky slopes, and cliff edges. Accordingly, ginkgo retains a prodigious capacity for vegetative growth. It is capable of sprouting from embedded buds near the base of the trunk (lignotubers, or basal chi chi) in response to disturbances, such as soil erosion. Old individuals are also capable of producing aerial roots on the undersides of large branches in response to disturbances such as crown damage; these roots can lead to successful clonal reproduction upon contacting the soil. These strategies are evidently important in the persistence of ginkgo; in a survey of the "semiwild" stands remaining in Tianmushan, 40% of the specimens surveyed were multistemmed, and few saplings were present.

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Survivors - the A-bombed trees of Hiroshima - shukkeien
Located to the right of the pond, on a small rise, just after crossing a low series of bridges

On the afternoon of August 6th, 1945, following the dropping of the atomic bomb, the woods inside the garden began to burn, and the well-known gigantic trees were almost all completely consumed.

However, this ginkgo is one of the trees which did survive. The circumference of the trunk is approximately 4 meters, and the height of the tree is 17 meters. The age of the tree is estimated at 200 years.

As it was bent in the blast from the atomic bomb, the top and branches have been pruned to keep it from falling over.

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Ginkgo Biloba

These uses have been tested in humans or animals.  Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven.  Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Cerebral insufficiency (insufficient blood flow to the brain):
  • Dementia
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Altitude (mountain) sickness
  • Asthma
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cancer prevention
  • Chemotherapy side effects reduction
  • Chronic cochleovestibular disorders (ear disorder)
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (damaged vein valves)
  • Claudication (painful legs from clogged arteries)
  • Cocaine dependence
  • Cognitive performance
  • Decreased libido and erectile dysfunction
  • Depression and seasonal affective disorder
  • Diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease)
  • Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Dyslexia
  • Exercise performance
  • Fibromyalgia (nervous system disorder)
  • Glaucoma (increased eye pressure)
  • Graves' disease (thyroid disorder)
  • Hearing loss
  • Heart disease
  • Hemorrhoids
  • High blood sugar/glucose intolerance
  • Macular degeneration (eye disease)
  • Memory enhancement (in healthy people)
  • Mental performance (after eating)
  • Migraine
  • Mood and cognition in post-menopausal women
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Ocular allergy (eye allergy)
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Pulmonary interstitial fibrosis (scarred lung tissue)
  • Quality of life
  • Retinopathy (eye damage from type 2 diabetes)
  • Skin aging
  • Smell disorders
  • Stomach cancer
  • Stroke recovery
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Vertigo (dizziness)
  • Vitiligo (lack of skin pigmentation)
  • Age-associated memory impairment
  • Raynaud's disease (poor circulation)
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Ginkgo trees shed leaves to welcome winter
Ginkgo biloba | University of Maryland Medical Center
Ginkgo biloba: Indications, Side Effects, Warnings -
Can Ginkgo Prevent Alzheimer's? - Healthline
5 Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba -
GINKGO BILOBA: Uses, Benefits, Side-effects, Dosage?

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