Also known as maidenhair, Gingko biloba is an ancient plant that is native to Asia and Africa but also thrives in parts of Europe. Typically, Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) is obtained from the dried leaves of the plant only as the seeds are said to be toxic according to the University Of Maryland Medical Center. Leaves of the gingko tree contain up to 40 active components. However, the extracts main health benefits due to the presence of two beneficial constituents including flavonoids those give it antioxidant properties and terpenoids.
Flavonoids are plant based anti-oxidants. They protect the various body cells from damage. Terpenoids such as ginkgolides on the hand have a beneficial effect on vascular health as it dilates blood vessels increasing blood flow thus improving general circulation in the body, especially to the vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys. It also counteracts platelet aggregation by making them less sticky. Some of the biological effects of ginkgo biloba leave extract include the scavenging of free radicals, reducing oxidative stresses, reducing neural damage, reduces platelet aggregation and minimizes inflammation.
The plant extract may create an effective inflammation response hence providing an immunosupportive function. Its ability to improve circulation reinforces the detoxification process and supports its immune function. The flavonoids in the Ginkgo biloba leaf extract inhibit the cyclo-oxygenase and lipooxygenase systems that are involved in the metabolism of arachidonic acid. Besides, the flavonoid component is also said to reduce edema as a result of tissue injury and also protects against capillary fragility.
Ginkgo Biloba extract has a brain boosting effect. It facilitates improved cognitive function and boosts memory by lowering the oxidative stress and improving circulation which has a cerebral enhancing effect. There are various mechanism of action, one of them being the ability to influence the uptake of glucose by brain cells, which further improves nervous transmission which is responsible for the execution of various body processes such as memory. Its vasodilative effect also increases blood flow to the brain. Its ability to neutralize free radicals also enables it to neutralize any damage to the neurons and brain cells. Therefore GBE has a positive effect on learning and memory processes.
GBE has the ability to boost blood circulation by stimulating both increased peripheral and cerebral flow. It improves circulation by inducing vasodilatation and making the platelets less sticky. It also increases red blood cell deformidability and decreases their aggregation as well. This results in increased red blood cell fluidity and decreases whole blood viscosity. Circulation boosting effects are also beneficial in the maintenance of vision. The presence of flavonoids that have an antioxidant property as well as the ability to increase blood flow to the eye reduces complication of the retina that often results to macular degeneration. Specifically, gingko may help preserve vision in age-related macular degeneration that ranks as the number one cause of blindness in the United States.
Gingko extract offers protection against oxidative cell or DNA damage caused by free radicals that confers its antioxidant properties. Components in ginkgo leaves that function as antioxidants include, terpenoids, phytochemicals and flavonoids. Its potent antioxidant function protects against reversible cell damage. It helps counteract free radicals in the brain, eyes, cardiovascular system and in the nerves. This helps the boosts ones health and longevity as the free radicals tend to build up with age posing a danger to the cells and genetic material as well.
Indeed, gingko plays a key role in the normal functioning of the body. It contains the lipid phospahtidylserine that is vital for the normal functioning of all the body cells. It is mainly abundant in the brain thus contributing to gingko’s therapeutic effect on the brain. Lastly, ginkgo extract has role in management of anxiety and stress as it helps suppress the levels of corstisol in the body which is the main stress hormone in the body. Animal studies have shown that GBE inhibits monoamine oxidase that regulates biogenic amines in the brain. Therefore, exposure to the plant extract elevates the brain concentrations of serotonin, norepinephrine and other biogenic amines.