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Ginkgo biloba - "Tree of Hope"


The ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) is probably the oldest plant species in the world and has been at home on earth for around 200 million years. It originally comes from China, where the oldest ginkgo tree is over 5,000 years old. Today the ginkgo tree is cultivated worldwide. As the last survivor of the plant genus “Ginkgaceae”, the Ginkgo biloba is neither a deciduous tree nor a conifer and is not only therefore an absolute phenomenon in botany.

The Ginkgo biloba even inspired Goethe to dedicate his own poem to it:

Ginkgo Biloba
This tree's leaf, which from the east
entrusts My garden,
Gives secret meaning to taste
How it edifies those who know.
Is it a living being.
That separated into itself?
Are they two who choose each other,
That they are known as one?
I thought it made the right sense to answer such questions.
Don't you feel from my songs
That I am one and double?

Its name comes from Japanese and is made up of the words “Gin” (silver) and “Kyo” (apricot). “Biloba” in turn stands for the two-part, fan-like leaf shape of the plant. The tree reaches a height of up to 30 meters and in autumn approx. 3 cm large, green-yellow fruits.

Due to its longevity and resilience, the Ginkgo biloba has always attracted the interest of natural medicine and is also referred to by botanists as a “living fossil” that has outlived the dinosaurs. Its resistance to heat, cold, viruses, bacteria, fungi and environmental stress is impressive. This is how it survived the Ice Ages in Japan and China and is also called “Tree of Hope” in Japan: it was a Ginkgo biloba that survived charred just a few hundred meters from the site of the Hiroshima bomb impact and in the is said to have even bloomed again the following spring.

The German doctor Engelbert Kampf was able to get to know the Ginkgo biloba as a medicinal plant during his two-year stay in Japan and reported about it in Europe for the first time in 1712. He rendered the Japanese name “Gin-Kyo” as “Ginkgo” – it has remained this way of writing to this day. The doctor and botanist Dr. Wilhelm Schwabe finally introduced the active ingredients of Ginkgo biloba into modern medicine.

The seeds and extracts from the leaves are used in natural medicine.

Areas of application and mode of operation

Ginkgo biloba is one of the most scientifically studied medicinal plants. Its leaves contain its active ingredients: flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol), biflavonoids (gingetin, amentoflavone), 0.02-0.2% diterpene lactones , which consist primarily of the ginkgolides A, B and C, 0.02-0.06% sesquiterpenes (including v.a bilobalide) and proanthocyanidins.

Unlike the other active ingredients mentioned, ginkgolides are not found in any other fruit. It was the Nobel Prize winner in chemistry Elias James Corey who succeeded in synthesizing Ginkgolide B, an active ingredient naturally occurring in the ginkgo tree, which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since the 5th century.000 years for the treatment of asthma and circulatory problems.

The use of Ginkgo biloba was described in Chinese folk medicine over 5,000 years ago - among other things.a for intestinal diseases, coughs, asthma, high blood pressure and against worm infestation.

In TCM, ginkgo leaves are used.a for four purposes: moving the blood, reducing fluid retention (edema), tonifying the “heart qi” and encouraging the mind. Both the seeds and the roots of Ginkgo biloba are used. The latter v.a for menstrual problems, the former for example. for flatulence, asthma, cough, tuberculosis, bladder infections or pain when urinating.

A positive influence of ginkgo leaf extract on metabolism and blood circulation in the brain has now also been scientifically proven; this is what it says, for example: in the EU HMPC monograph on the use of Ginkgo biloba in dementia:

The exact mechanism is not known. Human pharmacological data show increased EEG alertness in geriatric subjects, reduction in blood viscosity and improved cerebral perfusion in specific areas in healthy men (60-70 years), and reduction in platelet aggregation. Additionally, vasodilating effects on forearm blood vessels are displayed, causing increased regional blood flow."

In the Deutsche Apotheker-Zeitung it says about the effect of the Ginkgo biloba extract as follows:
[this] has been intensively tested (in vitro and in animal experiments) and has a variety sometimes very different effects have been shown."

Here are some of the effects on whose interaction the overall effect of the extract is based:

  • Improves microcirculation and reduces the viscosity of the blood
  • inhibits platelet aggregation and erythrocyte adhesion
  • inactivates oxygen radicals
  • improves glucose and oxygen uptake
  • protects against toxic and oxidative stress and against beta-amyloid fractions (neuroprotection)
  • Increased concentration and memory according to a study
  • Proven effectiveness for Alzheimer's symptoms

In the final report of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care on the topic "Ginkgo-containing preparations for Alzheimer's dementia" from 2008 it says:

"For the therapy goal "Activities of daily life”, looking only at studies that used a dosage of 240 mg showed evidence of a benefit of Ginkgo biloba. For the therapeutic goal of “accompanying psychopathology,” there is only evidence of a benefit from Ginkgo biloba for general psychopathology. There is no clear indication, but only a tendency for Ginkgo biloba to have a positive influence on depression symptoms. For the therapeutic goal “cognitionthe studies provide evidence of a benefit from Ginkgo biloba.“

Legal consumer information

German and European case law wants to protect consumers from supposedly misleading claims about effectiveness. The statements made here refer to the original Ayurvedic and TCM texts. This ancient knowledge, which is thousands of years old, is based on experiences that are passed on from generation to generation. It is not intended to claim that the products described here have an effect in the sense of western medicine. All products are nutritional supplements; they are not medications and have no medical effect. If you are sick and need medical care, please contact your doctor or pharmacist.

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