The Ginkgo tree is described as a living link to the dinosaurs as it's one of the worlds oldest trees. It's said to have remained unchanged for more than 200 million years.
Historically, it was the nut and leaf of the ginkgo tree that was used for its nutritional and medicinal benefits. For example ginkgo nuts were used for getting rid of coughs, sputum and fever, but with modern herbalism, it's the ginkgo leaf that excites modern scientific interest. The leaf is powerful! It's actually one of the most studied and researched herbs with over 400 studies.
1) Improving brain health
Ginkgo is well documented for its benefits on memory and this is one of reasons why many take the herb whilst studying. One of the ways it helps the brain is by increasing acetylcholine activity in the brain. Acetylcholine is an organic chemical that promotes memory formation and good long term memory.
Another reason why ginkgo benefits the brain is because of its ability to improve the level of nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide is important for many bodily processes as it improves blood flow, especially for men where it can also help with erectile dysfunction.
2) Reducing levels of stress and anxiety
The benefits to the brain don't stop at memory recall, recognition, reflexes, attention or concentration. Ginkgo may also help with mood, stress and anxiety.
In one study, ginkgo biloba reduced acute stress symptoms in mice. In another study, using humans this time, stress fighting benefits were confirmed. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, found that when people with an anxiety disorder took ginkgo they experience better anxiety relief than those who took a placebo.
This is a good herb to supplement other activities that you're doing to help you relax and destress. But be mindful of drug/herb interactions especially if you're on medication for something else.
3) Improving blood flow
We touched on blood flow briefly before but this benefit is more than just better erections and brain health. Improved blood flow can help with other things such as performance, blood clots and cardiovascular health.
For example, one study showed an increase in blood flow to the extremities of people with heart disease. This was due to the nitric oxide helping the blood vessels dilate. It's worth noting that this isn't due to an increase in blood pressure as studies have shown ginkgo extract increasing circulation in the forearm without changing overall blood pressure levels. In another trial on 70 healthy volunteers, ginkgo extract prevented the rise in blood pressure caused by stress.
4) Aiding performance
Ginkgo biloba leaves contain flavonoids and polyphenols that may enhance physical and cognitive performance. In a study, eighteen healthy and physically active young men either took a placebo or 160mg of ginkgo per day for six weeks.
Before and after the supplement period, the men performed a cycling test that measured maximum oxygen capacity. Both groups saw an increase in oxygen capacity between the two test periods, but the ginkgo biloba group had an increase of 6% compared to 1% for placebo group.