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Ginkgo is a large tree with fan-shaped leaves. It is native to China, Japan, and Korea, but is also now grown in Europe and the United States. The ginkgo tree is thought to be one of the oldest living trees, dating back to more than 200 million years.Also known as the maidenhair tree, ginkgo is one of the oldest species of tree in the world. The trees can grow more than 130 feet tall and can live for over 1,000 years. Some trees in China are said to be over 2,500 years old.
The tree is considered to be a “living fossil,” meaning that it has continued to survive even after major extinction events.
Ginkgo leaf is often taken by mouth for memory and thought problems, anxiety, vision problems, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
The list of other uses of ginkgo is very long. This may be because this herb has been around for so long. Ginkgo biloba is one of the longest living tree species in the world. Ginkgo trees can live as long as a thousand years. Using ginkgo for asthma and bronchitis was described in 2600 BCE.
In manufacturing, ginkgo leaf extract is used in cosmetics. In foods, roasted ginkgo seed, which has the pulp removed, is an edible delicacy in Japan and China.
How does it work?
Ginkgo seems to improve blood circulation, which might help the brain, eyes, ears, and legs function better. It may act as an antioxidant to slow down Alzheimer's disease and interfere with changes in the brain that might cause problems with thinking.
Ginkgo seeds contain substances that might kill the bacteria and fungi that cause infections in the body. The seeds also contain a toxin that can cause serious side effects like seizures and loss of consciousness.
Possible side effects include:
- It can cause some minor side effects such as stomach upset, headache, dizziness, constipation, forceful heartbeat, and allergic skin reactions.
- There is some concern that ginkgo leaf extract might increase the risk of liver and thyroid cancers
- Ginkgo fruit and pulp can cause severe allergic skin reactions and irritation of mucous membranes. Ginkgo might cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, mango rind, or cashew shell oil.
- There is some concern that ginkgo leaf extract might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Ginkgo thins the blood and decreases its ability to form clots. A few people taking ginkgo have had bleeding into the eye, brain, and lungs and excessive bleeding following surgery.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Ginkgo is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. It might cause early labor or extra bleeding during delivery if used near that time. Not enough is known about the safety of using ginkgo during breast-feeding. Do not use ginkgo if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- Infants and children: Ginkgo leaf extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for a short time. Some research suggests that a specific combination of ginkgo leaf extract plus American ginseng might be safe in children when used short-term. Do not let children eat the ginkgo seed. It is LIKELY UNSAFE. The fresh seeds have caused seizures and death in children.
- Diabetes: Ginkgo might interfere with the management of diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar closely.
- Seizures: There is a concern that ginkgo might cause seizures. If you have ever had a seizure, don't use ginkgo.
- Deficiency of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD): Ginkgo might cause severe anemia in people have G6PD enzyme deficiency. Until more is known, use cautiously or avoid using ginkgo if you have G6PD deficiency.
- Infertility: Ginkgo use might interfere with getting pregnant. Discuss your use of ginkgo with your healthcare provider if you are trying to get pregnant.
- Surgery: Ginkgo might slow blood clotting. It might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using ginkgo at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
As always make sure you are using organic herbs as pesticides are toxic and always take normal doses, excessive amounts of anything is not good for you.
We are not doctors, lawyers, accountants or your mom. We give out free smiles and the occasional unsolicited advice. That being said; if you are pregnant, nursing or concerned about your health, call your mom. Or even better, consult a doctors before consuming; particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.