GINKGO (Ginkgo biloba)

Family: Ginkgoaceae

Parts commonly used: Leaf and nut (in Asia, the nut is cooked for food).

Properties/energetics: Vasodilator, anti-inflammatory, stimulant, antioxidant (free radical scavenger), anticlotting/Neutral; sweet, bitter, astringent.

Systems predominantly affected:  Cardiovascular, nervous, brain tissue, genitourinary, respiratory, whole-body cellular level.

Uses: Ginkgo is one of the most well-researched medicinal plants in the world today. It is indicated for a wide range of disorders, all leading back to a few specific physiological actions. Primarily, Ginkgo improves blood circulation to the brain and periphery and seems to have a normalizing action on the vascular system. Not only does it improve circulation to poorly nourished areas, the nature of the blood arriving is also improved (less viscous due to decreased platelet aggregation), and utilization of oxygen and glucose are increased. Much of this action is due to Ginkgo’s vasodilating activities and inhibition of vascular spasm. These activities improve memory, mental efficiency, and concentration and make it useful in conditions marred by poor circulation to the extremities (penile erectile dysfunction) and poor circulation to the brain (cerebral vascular insufficiency, often characterized by depression, ringing in the ears, poor memory, headaches, mental confusion, and senility). Ginkgo’s effects on the brain go far beyond those of merely improving blood circulation to this voracious organ. Ginkgo has been shown to improve nerve cell transmission and enhance brain metabolism, increasing utilization of oxygen and glucose. These remarkable effects help to explain why Ginkgo is the most popular herbal treatment for poor memory and the general affects of aging on the brain. Besides the circulatory improvement and the brain-tonic effects of Ginkgo, this plant has general ant-oxidant and free radical scavenging effects on the body, helping maintain tissue integrity and preventing damage to body tissues. Damage by free radicals is looked at as one of the major causes of aging, and the strong free radical-scavenging activity of this plant helps explain why it is so widely used as a tonic for the elderly and those elderly-ing. In fact, it is those qualities of this plant that are partially responsible for protecting the brain from various damaging influences (poor circulation, emotional stress, toxic chemicals). Ginkgo has been shown to be an excellent agent for treating impotence (arterial erectile dysfunction) by increasing blood flow of both penile arteries and veins without any change in systemic blood pressure.

Combinations: Combines well with Hawthorn as a cardiovascular tonic and with Wild Oat as a nerve tonic.
Affects on specific body types: This plant is a good preventive agent for Warrior-type cardiovascular damage due to its excellent antioxidant and blood-thinning properties. Useful for Seer-type vascular spasm and/or generally poor circulation brought on by stress, especially when this plant is combined with a gentle relaxant such as Lavender. Useful for increasing peripheral circulation in sluggish Monarch types, especially when combined with warming stimulants such as Rosemary.

Precautions: Not to be used with aspirin or other blood-thinning medications. Large doses can cause headache or stomach upset.

Preparations/dosage: Infusion: 1 cup three times a day. Tincture: 1 teaspoon three times a day.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition