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Ginkgo Biloba Protects Your Memory

March 18, 2008 | 55,662 views
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Taking the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba may delay the onset of cognitive impairment in elderly adults. However, the study also showed a higher incidence of strokes and "mini-strokes" in ginkgo users.

In a three-year study of more than 100 people age 85 and older with no memory problems, half took ginkgo biloba extract three times a day, and half took a placebo.

During the course of the study, 14 of those who took the placebo developed memory problems, but only 7 of those who took the ginkgo extract did. When the researchers took into account whether people followed directions in taking the study pills, they found that people who reliably took ginkgo had a 68 percent lower risk of developing memory problems.

Seven people taking ginkgo had strokes, while none of those taking placebo did.

What Are GMOs?

From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.

Donate Today!


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Ginkgo biloba is believed to be one of the oldest trees in the world. It can be traced back some 250 million years, which is why it’s often referred to as a living fossil.

What Can Ginkgo Biloba do For You?

Ginkgo is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for ailments related to poor blood circulation to your brain, such as dizziness, tinnitus and memory loss.

Ginkgo biloba causes blood vessel dilation and has a blood thinning effect, which increases your cerebral blood flow and appears to be able to protect your brain from degeneration over time.

It also has some antioxidant effects, which help protect nerve cells against oxidation -- the biological equivalent of rusting -- which also suggests it might slow down the degenerative process. It is also a very powerful adaptogenic herb.

Many studies have looked into its effectiveness in treating degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and age-related dementia. One Italian study published in the European Journal of Neurology in 2006 actually concluded that ginkgo biloba works just as well as prescription drug Aricept (donepezil) in treating mild or moderate Alzheimer's, stating:

“Our study suggests that there is no evidence of relevant differences in the efficacy of EGb 761 [ginkgo biloba] and donepezil in the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's dementia, so the use of both substances can be justified.”

Potential Side Effects of Ginkgo

As with most supplements, you should always use caution and read up on potential side effects before self-medicating. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it can’t cause potential problems.

For example, in addition to the ginkgo biloba leaves, the seeds are also used medicinally, but should be used with caution as uncooked seeds contain a chemical known as ginkgotoxin, which can cause seizures, and in large quantities, death.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the most common side effects of ginkgo biloba include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Allergic skin reactions 

There’s also some data to suggest that ginkgo can increase bleeding risk, so never take ginkgo biloba if you are on any kind of anticoagulant drugs or have any kind of bleeding disorder.  

You also should not take ginkgo before undergoing surgery or dental procedures, for the same reason.

Even Safer Options to Keep Your Mind Sharp

Ginkgo is clearly a safer option than pharmaceutical drugs for keeping degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s at bay, but just like drugs, it doesn’t address the underlying cause of mental decline.

To really boost your brain health, don’t forget to incorporate these essential lifestyle changes:

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