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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, over 5000 years old, is also found. Nowadays the ginkgo tree is cultivated worldwide. The Ginkgo biloba, as the last survivor of the plant genus "Ginkgaceae", is neither a deciduous nor a conifer and not only therefore an absolute phenomenon in botany.

The Ginkgo biloba even inspired Goethe, him to dedicate one's own poem:

Ginkgo Biloba
This tree leaf entrusted to my garden from the east

Gives secret meaning to taste,
How it edifies the knower.
Is it a living being.
That separates itself?
Are there two who choose
that they are known as one?
To answer such questions
I guess I found the right meaning.
Don't you feel in my songs,
that I am one and double?

His name comes from Japanese and is made up of the words "gin" (silver) and "kyo" (apricot). "Biloba" stands for the two-part, fan-like leaf shape of the plant. The tree can reach a height of up to 30 meters and in the autumn it produces green-yellow fruits that are about 3 cm in size.

Due to its longevity and resistance, the ginkgo biloba has always aroused the interest of naturopathy and is also referred to by botanists as a "living fossil" that has already survived the dinosaurs. Its resistance to heat, cold, viruses, bacteria, fungi and environmental stress is impressive. 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 Hiroshima bomb impact site and in the is said to have flowered again the following spring.

The German doctor Engelbert Kampfer 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" - this spelling has remained to this day. The physician and botanist Dr. Finally, Wilhelm Schwabe also introduced the active ingredients of Ginkgo biloba into modern medicine.

In naturopathy, the seeds and extracts from the leaves are used.

Areas of application and mode of action

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

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

In Chinese folk medicine, the use of ginkgo biloba was already described a good 5000 years ago - among other things for intestinal diseases, coughs, asthma, high blood pressure and against worm infestation.

In TCM, ginkgo leaves are usedfor four purposes: moving the blood, reducing water retention (oedema), toning the "heart qi" and encouraging the spirit. Both the seeds and the roots of the ginkgo biloba are used. The latter especially in menstrual cramps, the former e.g. in 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; for example, the monograph by the EU HMPC on the use of Ginkgo biloba in dementia states:

The exact mechanism is not known. Human pharmacology data show increased EEG alertness in geriatric subjects, reduction in blood viscosity and improved cerebral perfusion in specific areas in healthy males (60-70 years), and reduction in platelet aggregation. In addition, vasodilating effects on forearm blood vessels are shown, causing increased regional blood flow." -biloba-l-folium_en.pdf

The Deutsche Apotheker-Zeitung states the effect of the Ginkgo biloba extract as follows:
"[this] was tested intensively (in vitro and in animal experiments) and has a large number of sometimes very different effects."

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

  • improves microcirculation and reduces blood viscosity
  • 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 efficacy in Alzheimer's symptoms

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

"For the therapy goal "Activities of daily life” showed the exclusive consideration of studies that used a dosage of 240 mg, a proof of a benefit of Ginkgo biloba. For the therapy goal “accompanying psychopathology” there is only an indication of a benefit of ginkgo biloba for general psychopathology. There is no clear indication, only a tendency for Ginkgo biloba to have a positive influence on depression symptoms. For the therapy goal "Cognition" , the studies provide an indication of a benefit from Ginkgo biloba."

Legal consumer information

German and European case law wants to protect the consumer from supposedly misleading claims. The statements made here refer to the original Ayurvedic and TCM texts. This knowledge, which has been handed down for thousands of years, is based on experiences that are passed on from generation to generation. It should not be claimed that the products described here have any effect in the sense of western medicine. All products are dietary supplements; they are not medicines and have no medicinal effect. If you are ill and require medical attention, please contact your doctor or pharmacist.


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