Traditionally used in China for brain and circulatory disorders, gingko has been extensively studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Gingko has been shown to promote cerebral blood flow, protect against low oxygen in the brain, improve energy metabolism in neurons, and enhance free radical scavenger activity. Ginkgo is a key herb in Amrita Anti-Aging Brain Food for its proven ability to support optimal cerebral oxygenation and the brain’s natural antioxidant response.
Circulation and Brain Oxygenation
Your brain is the most oxygen-demanding organ in your body. Ensuring that your neurons have sufficient oxygen is important not only for your day-to-day cognitive functioning, but also to preserve long term brain health. Ginkgolides and other terpenoids in ginkgo help improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of platelets, and have been shown to significantly enhance cerebral circulation in humans. Ginkgo also improves blow flow to the eyes in healthy humans as well as micro and peripheral circulation generally. These effects underlie ginkgo’s ability to reduce the symptoms of acute mountain sickness, which is related to low blood oxygen concentrations at higher altitudes.
Ginkgo helps prevent mitochondrial aging and preserves cellular energy production by protecting against oxidative stress. It has been demonstrated to reduce the formation of amyloid plaques and fibrils in the brain and prevent neuron death caused by beta-amyloid and other neurotoxins. In addition to being active at the mitochondrial level in neurons, the antioxidant properties of ginkgo have also been shown to protect the retina and blood vessels throughout the body from damage.
Numerous studies have noted an increase in the growth of brain cells and nerve regeneration following oral supplementation of ginkgo, including increased proliferation of neurons in the hippocampus and other areas of the forebrain. Ginkgo has also been observed to increase circulating levels of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which promotes neurogenesis and neuronal survival in the face of oxidative stress.
Ginkgo is one of the most investigated and adopted herbal remedies for cognitive disorders and dementia, and has drug status in some countries such as Germany. It has demonstrated reliable effects on memory formation, processing speed and general cognition in older individuals, and has therapeutic effects comparable to the Alzheimer’s drug Donepezil in those already experiencing cognitive decline. Researchers have noted its effectiveness for both Alzheimer’s dementia and vascular dementia (the second most common type of cognitive impairment), linked to its anti-amyloid, antioxidative and circulation-enhancing mechanisms. In addition to its general protective effects on brain tissue, ginkgo’s ability to improve cognitive function may also be due to the preservation of neurotransmitter activity, as it has been observed to increase dopamine and acetylcholine concentrations in the prefrontal cortex. As an adaptogen, ginkgo can also modulate cortisol metabolism and exerts antistress effects in humans. Human studies show that the many benefits of ginkgo require long term supplementation to manifest.