History and Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba
You've likely heard of Ginkgo biloba before, but did you know that the Ginkgo biloba tree is one of the longest living tree species in the world? Also known as the maidenhair tree, it is a remarkable tree that is similar to fossils dating back 270 million years ago. No other tree species in existence today is related to the unique Ginkgo tree, which can live as long as one thousand years. Native to China, the tree has been used to help asthma and bronchitis since 2600 BC. In fact, the Ginkgo tree is the official national tree of China today.
The tree has been deeply respected in Buddhism and Confucianism and as a result has been widely planted in Korea and parts of Japan. Along with China, it is also the official tree of the Japanese capital of Tokyo, and the symbol of Tokyo is a ginkgo leaf. Europeans first encountered the tree in 1690 when a German botanist saw them in Japanese temple gardens. They were eventually imported to Europe where they became very popular in metro areas such as Paris and London.
The tree did not make its way to the United States until 1784 when William Hamilton imported it for his garden in Philadelphia. Frank Lloyd Wright fell in love with the tree, which helped it spread into city landscapes across North America. While it was popular because of its resistance to pests, drought, snow, and other environmental challenges, it was not without its issues. The main one being that the female trees produce ginkgo fruit when fertilized, and the fruit smells terrible. The odor has been described has smelling similar to sour milk or vomit, causing some city governments to actually ban the female trees from being planted. Male plants do not produce the stinky fruit however so are often selected to plant in urban communities.
Ginkgo biloba extract is used in greens supplements and many other health products today. It is enormously popular in Europe and the Unites States, actually ranking as one of the best-selling herbal medications and supplements. It mainly helps improve blood flow in the arteries and capillaries, creating a beneficial effect on the circulatory system. Studies have shown that this improved blood flow can help in treatment of short-term memory loss, headache, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and depression. Taking ginkgo biloba can help improve age-related memory loss in some elderly people. It can also help young adults modestly improve their memory and speed of mental processing.
Ginkgo biloba extract comes in a variety of available forms including standardized extracts, capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and dried leaf. It's best to find a nutritional supplement that contains other beneficial vitamins and minerals in it as well, such as the greens supplement.