Ginkgo biloba tree is the only surviving member of the Ginkgoaceae family and Ginkgoales order. Ginkgo genus was present approximately 200 million years ago according to the fossil records. Today only Ginkgo biloba has survived in all species. The morphology of the Ginkgo tree appears to have changed very little for over 100 million years and because of that it is often called “living fossil”. The Ginkgo tree can grow up to 40-50 m high and can reach ages of more than 1000 years. The ginkgo tree is highly resistant to fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
Owing to its resistance to air pollution has made Ginkgo biloba a popular roadside tree in urban areas of Japan, Europe, and Northern America.
The Ginkgo tree have separate male and female trees. It has green, fan-shaped leaves. The male leaves are divided into two distinct lobes, while the female’s leaves are not divided and the female trees have nuts.
Raw Ginkgo nuts contain a toxin called 4-Ο-methylpyridoxine which can result in serious food poisoning. The use of Ginkgo biloba for a medicinal purpose was first mentioned in 1505 in a book by Liu Wan-Tai. Ginkgo biloba is described as a treatment for dementia in the Chinese Materia Medica from 1578. Ginkgo biloba nuts
Ginkgo biloba has a reputation in treatment of memory-related afflictions. Over 7 billion dollars are spent anually on herbal medicines, and Ginkgo biloba ranks first among them. Specially in China, France, and South Carolina, USA fifty million Ginkgo biloba trees are grown and produced 8000 ton of dried leaves each year for Ginkgo biloba products.
Ginkgo biloba leaf extract is used as a dietary supplement due to reports about its beneficial effects on conditions ranging from stroke to mental dysfunction. Effects of Ginkgo biloba on memory are obvious where cognition is impared, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Its positive effects on ischemia and cerebral blood flow have been shown in both human and animal models. However the mechanisms of action is remain difficult to elucidate. It has antioxidant properties and has also been shown to reverse the age related impairment of neurotransmitter systems.
Egb 761 is a standardized extract of the Ginkgo biloba leaves. It contains ginkgolides and bilobalide (5-7%), terpene trilactones, along with flavonoids (22-24%), less than 5 ppm ginkgolic acids. This limitted amount is important because ginkgolic acid have been reported to induce contact dermatitis.