The Amazing Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba

We’re going to cover Ginkgo biloba, a very well-rounded herb with an ancient and time-tested past.  Ginkgo (as it’s commonly known as) has been used for thousands of years in China.  It has been known in the West for only a short time.  When Nixon opened relations with China back in the 1970’s, Ginkgo was “discovered” by Westerners for the first time.  Even this happened on a fluke, or more accurately, an appendicitis.

James Reston, the vice-president of the New York Times visited Beijing in 1971, where he came down with acute appendicitis and required surgery to survive.  The Chinese surgeons used acupuncture and herbs to help him recover.  It was this event that brought traditional Chinese medicine to the forefront of America’s focus.  Ginkgo has its roots (no pun intended) in Chinese herbal medicine, where it is a cornerstone of Chinese traditional healing methods.  Ginkgo has come to be recognized for its qualities in the West, as well.

Ginkgo itself is one of the oldest known plant species that survives, and it was around in most parts of the earth in the age of the dinosaurs.  It is literally a “living fossil,” meaning that the fossil record clearly shows ginkgo existed back then, as it does now.  After the Ice Age, the plant only survived in Asia.  It is actually a tree and is cultivated by the Chinese, who have been using it for almost 5,000 years to help restore memory and mental status, and to help with respiratory problems.

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In Europe, it is prescribed to combat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  It improves circulation to every portion of the body, including the brain.  Ginkgo also helps to maintain the elasticity and suppleness of the veins and arteries of the circulatory system.  The herb also reduces clotting, an important quality for people who have a higher than usual tendency toward clotting. Ginkgo also prevents the interaction of free radicals with neurotransmitters.

What this means is that your brain works through a series of “firings” of electrical impulses, transmitted along a complex “circuitry system” of your neural pathways.  These pathways have neurotransmitters (such as Acetylcholine, for one) that “connect” these pathways and enable the transmission of the electrical impulses (and thus thoughts) to and through the brain.  Free radicals are the result of excess oxidation at the cellular level and are responsible for the aging process.  A free radical is a reactive molecule or atom that is “missing” an electron and leaves it unbalanced.  It takes that electron back…from another atom or molecule.  The free radical kills healthy cells with this scavenging process.

Ginkgo is an antioxidant.  It has extra electrons, and when it comes into contact with the free radical, it gives one of these electrons to the free radical and neutralizes it.  This concept is important in relation to brain function, where impairment by free radicals and excess oxidization leads to Alzheimer’s disease.  Ginkgo also helps the eyes, ears, and respiratory system in a similar fashion, and especially the latter, where the circulatory system runs hand-in-hand with the breathing.  Want some more?  Ginkgo also protects against UV (Ultraviolet) light exposure.

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