Now a common staple of natural food supplements everywhere, it’s almost hard to believe that Ginkgo biloba comes from an endangered species of trees. It’s now found in all kinds of products that are said to have natural benefits to health, but specimens of the tree this natural mineral is sourced from are now harder to find than ever.
Ginkgo biloba trees are, however, large trees; larger specimens found in China measure up to 164 feet in height. They may be endangered, but the trees themselves are extremely resistant to the weather and changing seasons, thanks to their deep roots and unique shape. Diseases, insects, and even human atrocities are also no match for this tree; specimens of the Ginkgo biloba are known to have survived the detonation of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima.
The Ginkgo biloba trees have been cultivated and harvested for ages in China. They were found in gardens and temples, some of which are said to be over a thousand years old. Not only are they a wonderful, durable tree to pepper around temples and general areas, but their natural healing qualities when consumed are also revered.
Consumption and Health Benefits
Ginkgo biloba trees produce seeds which resemble nuts, and are considered to be a traditional delicacy in the East. Chinese culture, for example, serves up these little seeds along with traditional congee, and in vegetarian dishes made for special occasions. Common Ginkgo supplements are made out of extracts that are sourced not from the seeds, but from the leaves of the tree.
The Japanese also share a special relationship with this unique tree. The Ginkgo leaf, for example, has become the symbol of Tokyo, the capital of Japan. Japanese chefs in particular have favored the Gingko seed as a wonderful addition to many kinds of meals, and are served up cooked with dishes like the chawamushi.
Ginkgo also has plenty of medicinal uses, on top of being just plain tasty to eat. With its inherent nootropic characteristics, Ginkgo seeds are said to increase concentration and memory, despite numerous studies that say otherwise. A study conducted in 2010 by the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, however, found that Ginkgo was much more superior treating dementia patients than placebo.
Much of the same properties and benefits extend to people suffering from other illnesses that display serious neuropsychiatric symptoms. People who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, for example, take certain dosages of Ginkgo instead of medical pharmaceuticals in order to combat prominent symptoms.
Another known benefit of Ginkgo is the improvement of blood flow in the body. The inclusion of circulation-improving flavonoids also make it great for treating cases of vertigo, premenstrual syndrome, and general bouts of dizziness and nausea.
Allergies and Side Effects
People with certain sensitivities to health may want to consult a doctor or health expert before consuming anything sourced from Ginkgo. A person who has a history of consuming antidepressants in particular may need advice from a doctor beforehand, as Gingko is a natural inhibitor of monoamine oxidase, a substance known to come in conflict with certain antidepressants.
Perhaps Ginkgo’s natural anti-coagulant properties may also lend to more medical complications for the uninformed. Because Gingko affects the blood flow of a person, patients on any kind of blood thinner treatment, like coumadin or warfarin should consult with their doctors before consuming any kind of supplement.
The inherent properties that are inherent to Gingko seeds, leaves and extracts may also cause minor discomforts such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, restlessness and diarrhea after consumption. Increased risk of internal bleeding, heart palpitations, gastrointestinal discomfort are also possibilities without proper advice from a health care professional.
Excessive consumption over long periods of time can also cause acute poisoning, especially in children. The seed, which contains the “meat” similar to a nut, contains MPN, a substance which is not eliminated even after cooking. Convulsions brought about by this substance can be fought off with dosages of pyridoxine.
The outer coating of the Ginkgo seed are also known to cause allergies when handled improperly. Their chemical composition may cause minor allergies, blisters, or dermatitis similar to to the effects of poison ivy. Simply handling them properly should eliminate the risk of any risk to health entirely.
With the right medical advice, you should be well on your way to reaping the benefits of this marvel of nature. Ginkgo biloba has long been a staple of many Eastern cultures thanks to its healing properties that you may soon discover, too.