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Ginkgo Biloba.
Jyoti Ghosh.
Materia Medica.
` Gink.

1. The History of the tree:

Ginkgo-biloba or Balisburin Adiantifolia is a tree belonging to the Taxaceae family, in the conifer group of trees. It was first introduced to Europe in 1712, in a presentation to European scientists by Engelbert Kampfer. Kampfer had discovered the tree in East Asia, where it had long been highly esteemed and revered in associations with religious customs. At that time, it was assumed that the region of East Asia in which it was prevalent represented area of its original growth. Later, European findings of fossilized Ginkgo remains, revealed that Ginkgo had been prevalent throughout Europe from Italy to Greenland up until the Ice Age. Ginkgo has, of course, bynow become familiar to medical scientists and botanists alike. In addition to its numerous medical applications, it is frequently planted for decorative purposes in parks.

2. Therapeutics application:

The mother tincture of Ginkgo is prepared from the fresh leaves gathered in the spring (or whenever tests show flavonoid concentration to be high). The medically active components seem to be associated with the drug proving for Ginkgo range from the emotional and mental states to the nervous system (including the sensory system), the musculoskeletal system and the cardiovascular system. Proving was carried out in 1993 by E.A. Maury, first with the mother tincture on seven provers (five men and two women) and then with the 6th Korsak off potency on two male provers.

The most pronounced symptoms of the proving were-

  1. Irrational fears with rapid speech
  2. Suppressed anger, critical nature
  3. Heaviness in the central region of the head
  4. Pain above the left orbital nerve
  5. Vertigo
  6. Buzzing in the ears.
  7. Excessive sweating on the nape of the neck.
  8. Pallor, general weakness with shivering.
  9. Colic followed by diarrhoea like stools.
  10. Sensation of heat in the digestive tract.
  11. Parotid congestion.
  12. Laryngeal irritation with cough
  13. Sensation of impaired vision
  14. Oliguria
  15. Weak legs (legs feel like jelly)
  16. Cold feet

Lesser and Voisin in another proving stated the following complex of symptoms as being frequently noted.

  1. Paresthesia: prickling, tickling and tingling of the fingers, fore arms, shoulders and face
  2. Cold extremities
  3. Pallor
  4. Auditory dysfunction
  5. Disequilibrium
  6. Nausea and vomiting
  7. Tendency to capillary haemorrhage.
  8. Itching
  9. Tendency to right sided cardiac insufficiency
  10. Blood coagulation dysfunctions
  11. Muscular weakness and debility

The effects of cold worsen the symptoms, especially the muscular debility and weakness. Lesser also felt that abuse of alcohol, as well as stress of all kinds, will aggravate these complaints. Recently the medical research community has subjected Ginkgo to extensive pharmacological and clinical research.

3. Recent Investigations:

Recent studies and testing involving Ginkgo-biloba extract have shown its effectiveness in treating circulatory disorders, particularly those involving impairment of cerebral function. Viscosity measurements have confirmed an enhancement of blood flow characteristics after Ginkgo therapy. Secondary improvement has also been published by A Arrigo (1986), WU Weitbrecht and W Jansen (1986) and by P Halama, G Bartsch and G Meng (1988).

Patients suffering from intermittent claudications have also experienced some relief from Ginkgo as measured by the distance they can walk without pain (C. Diehm, 1989). Elderly patients in particular have reported improvement in the quality of their lives following Ginkgo therapy. These reports have included symptoms ranging from the physical processes of aging to cognitive enhancement in the quality of their lives as reflected in their ability to communicate with others and manage their own affairs. All of these studies justify the use of Ginkgo as a possible therapeutic modality for geriatric patients and patients of all ages with circulatory disorders particularly when a cerebrovascular component is present.

Toxicity seems to be unusually low with herbal preparations of Ginkgo. There has been no observed suppression of the Haemopoietic system nor any impairment of the liver and / or kidney function in association with its use: (H Schilder, 1988). Some of the European studies have shown very low incidence of gastrointestinal complaints (3-4 percent) in patients using the herbal preparations. There have been no reported side effects from Ginkgo-biloba.

Ginkgo-biloba holds great promise for continued acceptance and increasing utilization in the medical communities.


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