GINKGO, MAIDENHAIR TREE, BAI GUO (CHINESE)
GINKGO IS THOUGHT TO BE the oldest tree on the planet, first growing about 190 million years ago. Though long used as a medicine in its native China, its therapeutic actions have only recently been researched. The leaves (and their extract) are used to treat poor circulation to the brain and to maintain a plentiful blood flow to the central nervous system. Ginkgo is also valuable for asthma.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to China and possibly to Japan, ginkgo trees are grown in large-scale plantations in China, France and in South Carolina in the US. They produce green to yellow fan-shaped leaves with radiating veins, and round fruits about 3 cm (1 in) across that contain a single seed. Leaves and fruit are harvested in autumn.
• Circulatory stimulant & tonic
• Circulation Extensive research since the 1960s has established the importance of ginkgo in improving poor cerebral circulation, aiding memory and concentration and helping in cases of dementia.
• Anti-inflammatory action
Ginkgo’s ability to reduce inflammation may make it valuable in the future for conditions as varied as autoimmune problems, multiple sclerosis and organ transplants.
• Platelet activating factor
Research into ginkgo has led to the understanding of a new branch of human physiology. Ginkgo inhibits platelet activating factor (PAF), a substance released by a range of blood cells. PAF causes the blood to become stickier and therefore more likely to produce blood clots, and it also makes various inflammatory and allergenic changes take place.
Traditional & Current Uses
• Chinese herbal medicine
Ginkgo seeds are used to relieve wheezing and to lessen phlegrn. They are also given to treat vaginal discharge, a weak bladder and incontinence. The leaves are traditionally used for treating asthma.
• Western herbal medicine
Western interest in ginkgo has concentrated on the remarkable ability of the leaves to improve the circulation, especially poor circulation to the brain, and the herb’s anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory actions, which make it a particularly useful herbal remedy for the treatment of asthma. Ginkgo is the bestselling herbal medicine in France and Germany, where it is taken daily by millions of people from middle age onwards to maintain and improve cerebral circulation and the memory and to reduce the possibility of a stroke. It is probably one of the most useful herbs for the treatment of senile dementia.
Leaves improve the circulation. They are used to make tinctures, tablets and fluid extract.
The husk lf the ginkgo seed is removed before use
Seeds are prescribed by the Chinese for urinary problems and wheezing.